Guest Blogger #498, Entry #1145, May 3, 2012
Even if you don’t have a bit of earth to call your own, you can still enjoy gardening’s many pleasures. A single large container planted with herbs and vegetables on a sunny patio or balcony is all that’s needed to enjoy a delicious harvest. With the right amount of sunlight, the proper soil and little care, you can easily grow all the ingredients needed for dinner with friends and family.
Choose a Location
Start by choosing the best location for your mini-garden. For optimum growth, most herbs and vegetables require six hours of full sunlight. If you can’t find a location with that much sun, stick to cool-season vegetables like lettuce that can tolerate shade.
The Right Container
Choose a container that’s around 24 inches wide and 18 inches deep. Glazed pots, plastic containers or wooden tubs are good choices for containers as they help retain moisture. Make sure that the containers have a hole in the bottom for proper drainage. You can find great containers for around $30 to $50.
Traditional outdoor planters design by cleanairgardening.com
The Proper Soil
Purchasing quality potting soil with a time-released fertilizer built right in makes container gardening easy. Potting soil mixes contain ingredients that help retain water as well as organic amendments like compost that are rich in nutrients. Bags of potting soil cost around $15 each.
Choose Starter Plants
Vegetables can be started from seed, but the easiest way to grow a vegetable garden on your patio or deck is by purchasing 3-inch starter plants in the spring. Many starter plants are available in triple packs for around $10. The plants listed below will grow well together. Plant one or two of each in a wide, 18-inch-deep container.
Eggplants- Eggplant foliage is as attractive as the fruit it produces. The variety “Black Beauty” is a gardener’s favorite.
Tomatoes- You’ll need a few garden stakes to keep tomato plants tidy. The variety “Bush Celebrity” is compact and produces most of its crop in a short period.
Peppers- The type of pepper you choose will determine its heat. The variety “Anaheim” has a mild yet spicy taste. “Ariane” is a good choice for a sweet, orange pepper.
Basil- The variety “Purple Ruffles” has a mild taste with a touch of pepper. You can begin harvesting basil as soon as the plant produces about six pairs of leaves. After that, the plant will begin to flower and will lose some of its flavor. Pinch back the plant frequently to extend the harvest.
Container soil dries out quickly. It’s important to keep the soil moist but never soggy. You can test for moisture by inserting your finger an inch into the soil.
There’s nothing quite like vegetables straight off the vine. For the best taste, serve and enjoy the vegetables soon after you pick them. When the season is done, you can pull out the plant, roots and all, add fresh soil and plant a round of cool-season veggies for a fall harvest.
Melanie Levy can help you find your next apartment in Houston, TX. She is part of a team of licensed real estate professionals born and raised in Houston with over 30 years of experience in apartment locating.
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