Mark Roemer image of an outdoor patio garden

Tips for Growing and Setting Up Your Patio Vegetable Garden

I, Mark Roemer, think you should consider establishing a patio vegetable garden if you want to grow food without needing a half-acre of property or a strong back. You only need a sunny area on a moderately flat surface, some pots, potting soil, and the necessary vegetables to get started growing today. I’ll walk you through the steps of creating and maintaining your patio vegetable garden in this article.

What is the ideal size for a patio vegetable garden?

Every season, I produce dozens of containers packed with vegetables on my patio as horticulture, but there’s no need to go to such lengths. Start small with a few pots your first year, then gradually extend your garden as you gain experience. Of course, if you want to jump in headfirst and go big right away, go for it. Patio vegetable gardening isn’t very expensive, and it doesn’t necessitate a lot of work after the first setup. Yes, you will need to care for your plants throughout the season (later on), but maintenance is minimal compared to an in-ground garden.

Ask yourself the following questions while deciding on the size of your patio vegetable garden:

  1. What is the size of your family?
  2. How many different vegetables do you wish to have?
  3. Do you have extra time to care for your plants during the summer?
  4. What is your available space?

Consider the answers to these questions as you plan, and keep in mind that there will be a learning curve to contend with.

What amount of sunlight does a patio vegetable garden require?

The majority of vegetables and plants thrive in direct sunlight. That implies you should look for a spot that gets at least 8 hours of full light per day when planning a patio vegetable garden. And don’t forget that a patio vegetable garden doesn’t have to be on a patio. Set up the garden on a deck, porch, driveway, parking pad, or patio. Any reasonably sunny, flat location will suffice.

Don’t worry if you don’t have access to direct sunlight. You can still have a profitable garden; all you have to do now is change what you grow. Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, chard, and some root crops like carrots and radish may thrive with only 4 – 6 hours of sunlight. If you want to plant heat-loving veggies like tomatoes, peppers, beans, and squash, you’ll want to pick the sunniest area you can.

You may make a patio vegetable garden mobile, which is a fantastic feature. To improve their light exposure, use wheeled planters and pot dollies to move the pots from one side to the other every day. For plants to get the most sunlight, they need to follow the sun.

Other factors to consider

A water source is another item to consider when installing your patio vegetable garden. Carrying full watering cans becomes tiresome quickly. And once summer arrives, you’ll be watering your garden a lot. Keep the garden as close to the faucet as possible to quickly turn on the hose and water your garden every day. Vegetables are thirsty plants, and you’ll be watering them frequently during the summer heat (more on watering later in this article).

Finally, remember to glance up when selecting your website. Don’t plant your patio vegetable garden right up against the house if your home’s eaves extend out over the patio. If the pots are snuggled under the eaves, the rain will never reach them. While rain is unlikely to be your primary source of irrigation water during the summer, the odd strong shower can help cut down on the amount of hose watering.

How to Pick the Right Containers

Now that you’ve decided where your patio garden will go, it’s time to think about the sorts and sizes of containers you’ll need. You can grow in any container as long as the bottom has a drainage hole. My preferred materials are plastic and glazed ceramic. Always go for the larger pot size when it comes to pot sizes. The more soil a container holds, the less often you’ll have to water it, and larger pots allow roots to develop more freely.

What size vegetable pots should you use?

Here’s a guide to pot sizes. Use it to figure out what size container each of your patio veggie plants requires:

  • For each extra-large vegetable, such as full-sized tomatoes, winter squash, melons, pumpkins, and artichokes, a minimum of 10-15 gallons is required.
  • Each large fruit or vegetable plant should have at least 8-10 gallons of water. Peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, cucumbers, summer squash/zucchini, and bush-type winter squash cultivars are also included.
  • Each medium-sized vegetable or blooming plant should have a minimum of 5-8 gallons of water. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bush-type cucumbers, determinate tomatoes (also known as patio tomatoes), and okra are examples.
  • Each small-statured or micro-sized veggie requires at least 1-2 liters of water. Kohlrabi, lettuce, kale, chard, collards, spinach, real tiny tomatoes, and other greens fall into this category. Individual herb plants are also included in this category.

Plants that are typically grown in groups, such as bush beans and peas, as well as edible roots like beets, carrots, radish, onions, and turnips, can be planted in almost any sized container so as long as the seeds or plants are adequately spaced for optimum growth (as noted on the seed packet or plant tag). So long as the pot is deep enough, the roots will have ample room to grow. However, the smaller the container, the fewer seeds or plants it can hold.

If you wish to mix multiple plants in the same pot, combine the identified soil volumes to guarantee that all of the plants in the container have adequate room to grow a healthy root system. If you want to produce a full-sized tomato plant with a pepper plant and a few herbs, you’ll need a container that can hold at least 20-28 gallons of potting mix. The precise variety of any given vegetable is directly linked to the size container it requires. Use these guidelines, and you will not go wrong: a standard-sized tomato will require a much larger pot than a dwarf-type tomato, but it’s always better to err on the side of a larger container.

The best soil for a vegetable garden on a patio

Do not use soil from the ground while growing in pots. It is hefty and does not drain effectively. Use potting soil instead. Potting soil comes in various brands, some of which are of higher quality than others. There are probably multiple brands to pick from at your local garden center. When growing vegetable plants, I recommend using organic potting soil. To bulk up, add organic matter, and improve water-holding capacity, combine a high-quality organic potting soil with compost or worm castings.

If you want to save money and make your high-quality potting mix, here are the recipes I use every year to make my DIY potting soil. Every year, I save a lot of money by making my potting soil for my patio vegetable garden.

Vegetables to grow in a patio vegetable garden

While almost every vegetable can be grown in a pot, not all types are suited to growing in small spaces. Choose small vegetable kinds for your patio vegetable garden wherever possible. The majority produce full-sized veggies on smaller plants better suited to container cultivation.

Design ideas for a patio vegetable garden

It’s time to get creative once you’ve selected where your garden will be and what you’ll grow. When planted in lovely colorful pots, patio vegetable gardens may be pretty attractive. When planted in plastic containers and tubs, they can be completely utilitarian. Here are a few of my favorite patio garden design ideas to consider if you want to be creative and develop a patio vegetable garden with flare.

A Food Fountain

Purchase four or five various graduated sizes of wide, low pots. Fill the pots with water and stack them on top of one another to make a tiered food fountain for a patio or deck corner. Mix edible greens, herbs, and compact tomato into the same pot. This is also an excellent method for growing strawberries.

Milk Crates

Consider planting your patio vegetable garden in upcycled milk crates if you’re on a budget. Fill the boxes with dirt, then line them with landscape fabric, burlap, or porous fabric. You may even plant through the holes on the crate’s sides if you like. Stack the containers checkerboard-style to construct a “wall” of vegetable plants to grow on numerous levels and optimize space.

Galvanized stock tanks

Metal livestock troughs make excellent planters for the patio. They come in various sizes and have a retractable drain stopper that eliminates the need to drill drainage holes in the bottom. Each stock tank may hold many plants in just an hour or two and transform into a patio vegetable garden.

Watering your patio vegetables

It’s not time to kick back and relax once your patio containers have been planted. If you want the plants to produce, you must still care for them. When maintaining a patio vegetable garden, the most important chore is constantly watering. Take no shortcuts or ignore this task! Deeply water your pots as often as they require. In the summer, that means every day. Don’t just squirt some water on the soil and call it good. For many minutes, hold the running hose directly on the soil of each pot. Allow the water to soak in deeply and drain through the opening in the pot’s bottom. When in hot and dry weather, repeat this process two or three times in each pot.

Fertilizing the garden

The next task is fertilization. You wouldn’t have to fertilize again until mid to late summer if you utilized organic potting soil with a natural, slow-release fertilizer. For this task, I recommend using a liquid organic fertilizer. Every 3 to 4 weeks, mix it in a watering can and fertilize as you water.

Plants need to be nurtured and harvested

Provide support for any plants that require it in addition to watering and fertilizing. Use a tomato cage, trellis, or stake to keep tall plants erect. Skip this step if you want them to trail over the edge of the container (which is OK, too!).

The final step is to harvest your patio vegetable garden routinely. Every morning, I go out to the garden to inspect my plants and harvest what’s ripe. Beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini, for example, yield better when gathered regularly. I, Mark Roemer, think you should take pleasure in the fruits of your patio vegetable garden. Plan to grow it each season and have fun doing it. Yes, you will make some blunders along the way, but that is normal. Enjoy the results of your labors as you live and learn.