Anyone who enjoys the delectable taste of fresh produce from the farmer’s market or grocery store should consider testing out their green thumb by sectioning off an area on their patio or balcony and growing their favorite vegetables. Three reasons this should be taken into consideration is that growing vegetables not only has the potential to save families money, netted through a reduced food bill, but it allows homeowners and apartment dwellers to liven up patios and balconies with colorful plants that will produce healthy vegetables that can be eaten year-round.
There are a number of vegetables that can be grown in pots and containers right outside the back door on the patio or balcony. One of the easiest, most colorful and heartiest to grow is a cherry tomato plant. There are many kinds of tomato plants on the market, so make sure the variety chosen is suited for the pot in which it will be grown. While some cherry tomato varieties flourish in small containers, others need roomier pots to reach full potential. The second step to increase the chances of the tomato plant successfully sprouting is to plant seedlings that have been started indoors. It decreases the time it takes for the plant to develop the succulent bright-red, bulbous fruit.
A third step to ensure the tomato plant yields fruit is to stake it inside the pot. If growing the tomato plants in a basket or hanging apparatus, then staking is not necessary. Follow those instructions and in two-to-three weeks cherry tomatoes could be popping up everywhere on the vine. The plant might even produce until cooler temperatures return. Radishes are another plant that thrives in containers and can sit on a balcony or patio without taking up a large amount of space. These spicy plants can be grown in shallow containers, about four inches deep. Around three weeks, when noticing a decent-sized tip surfacing through the soil, it is time to harvest the radishes. Just grab the plants at the base and slowly lift to remove them from the container.
Bell peppers are a plant that will blossom in pots with a little tender love and care. A pot that is at least eight inches deep and 12 inches in diameter is recommended to grow this aromatic vegetable. It is also suggested first-time gardeners do not try to grow bell peppers by throwing seeds into a container. For best results, it is recommended gardeners purchase thick, compact, bushy plants that already have small fruit attached to them. It makes the growing process easier and cuts down on the time it takes the plant to mature outdoors.
Squash is another plant that flowers beautifully in pots. Gardeners must be careful not to plant the seeds too close together. Unless using a container the size of half a barrel, it is recommended gardeners use one plant per pot and utilize a trellis so the plant will grow upward. Squash plants can spread quickly and wildly if not contained. Squash plants require plenty of water and need to be picked before winter. Frost can kill the plant. Gardeners should also consider growing eggplants in confined areas. There are three factors to take into consideration before cultivating these dark-colored, fleshy vegetables. A plastic or wood container, which holds at least three-to-five gallons, is recommended in order to maintain moisture and should be at least 12 inches deep. To keep disease from ruining the plant, it is suggested a potting mix be used inside the container where the eggplant will be grown.
Gardeners should never use garden soil due to it possibly containing fungus, bacteria, and viruses that can potentially destroy the eggplant. Adding compost to the potting mix can also add nourishment, which increases the likelihood of the plant producing healthy vegetables. Eggplants love heat so when positioning them on the patio or balcony, make sure they are in an area that soaks up the Sun’s rays.
Tips For Growing Vegetable Plants Successfully
1. Pick a container large enough to sustain the size of the vegetable plant at its maturity. When in doubt, always use bigger pots than smaller ones.
2. Make sure plants receive several hours of sunlight each day.
3. Ensure pots/containers have enough drainage holes for watering.
4. Check soil regularly. Soil should be evenly moist. Too much water can lead to diseased roots. Being too dry can destroy plants also. Vegetable plants need one-to-two inches of water each week, especially June-August.
5. Fertilize as needed.
DeVon A. Applewhite is a former newspaper journalist who loves reading about current events. Born and raised in the south, Applewhite enjoys the great outdoors and likes to garden and fish when the opportunity arises. His favorite treat to prepare during the summertime is a smoothie with loads of fresh fruit.