Once you have decided to plant a patio garden, you need to think about the number of pots that you want to tend and the amount of time that you want to devote to your garden.
If you are limited on space or making your first attempt at a garden, let me recommend The Three Pot Garden. This garden will be easy to manage and will provide you with just enough fresh vegetables and herbs without overwhelming you with produce.
Preparation and Materials
You will need one large pot about two feet in diameter and two feet deep, and two smaller containers (12 – 18 inches would be best). Fill all three pots with 3 inches of gravel and have topsoil and compost available for filling them.
The First Patio Garden Pot – Tomato, Cucumber, Basil, Oregano
The large pot will hold a tomato plant, two basil plants, a cucumber plant, and an oregano plant. Tomatoes are some of the best vegetables for patio gardens; they can produce a large amount of fruit in a short period of time and do very well in containers.
Begin planting by putting about 4 inches of compost and 4 inches of topsoil into the pot. Gently free your tomato plant from the pot it came in (or remove the tape from the bottom of a degradable paper pot) and set the plant in the container about six inches from one edge.
Continue filling the pot with alternating layers of topsoil and compost until you are six inches from the top of the pot. Bury the stem of the tomato as you fill the pot. If there are any small branches on the portion of the stem that you are burying gently break or cut them off. The buried portion of the stem will develop roots and make your plant healthier.
Once you have filled the pot to within six inches of the top, gently plant your cucumber plant on the opposite side of the pot from the tomato. Once again, leave about six inches between the plant and the side of the pot. If the plant is big enough to have chosen a direction in which to vine, plant it so that the vine will be able to drape out of the pot and onto the ground.
Press the soil down around the plant and add another two inches of topsoil to the pot. Plant the oregano on the same side of the pot as the cucumber. Keep the plant three inches from the side of the pot and oriented to trail over the edge.
Plant the basil plants next to each other across the middle of the pot. Keep them four inches from the edge of the pot and twelve inches from the tomato plant.
The spacing for these plants is approximate and will vary slightly depending on the exact size and shape of your container. The important thing is to allow air circulation between the pot and the plants and between the plants themselves. Water well until water runs out the drain holes. Inspect the plants to make sure that the soil has not washed away from their roots and then cover the soil with a couple of inches of mulch.
The Second Patio Garden Pot – Lettuce, Chives, Parsley
Lettuce, chives, and parsley all do very well in patio container gardens.
Fill your second pot with alternating layers of topsoil and compost and scatter lettuce seeds across one half of the pot. Don’t worry about the plants being too close. Tender baby lettuce is delicious, and you can eliminate any overcrowding by harvesting the extra plants.
Plant your parsley and chives plants in the other half of the pot. Water gently but thoroughly and cover with mulch. The lettuce should germinate in seven to ten days, and you can begin harvesting two weeks after germination.
The Third Patio Garden Pot – Peppers, Cilantro
Peppers are another great choice for patio vegetable gardening. There are so many varieties of peppers; from mild bell peppers to scorching hot Carolina reapers. The best part is they all grow fantastically in containers.
Finally, fill your third pot with compost and topsoil and plant your peppers and cilantro. You should plant the peppers along one side of the container and the cilantro in front of them. Remember to leave space between the side of the pot and your plants. Water thoroughly and add a layer of mulch tp the top.
Care for Your Patio Vegetable Garden
Over the next several days, water your plants daily. After the first week, you can probably cut back on the water to the tomato and pepper pots, but you should continue to water the lettuce daily. Once the lettuce has germinated and grown its first true leaves, you can cut back on the watering of that pot as well.
You can begin to harvest the herbs almost immediately, taking care never to cut more than a third of the plant. In four to six weeks, you will have your first tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers to enjoy.
You will find that this Three Pot Garden requires almost no work, beyond watering. If you are getting lots of produce or if the weather is particularly hot you should give the pots a dose of liquid fertilizer or manure tea weekly.
Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the produce from your Three Pot Garden!