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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Easy Porch Plants!

Easy Porch Plants!

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 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 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.

12 comments

1 Jennifer { 05.17.14 at 4:14 pm }

Here in northeast Pennsylvania, it is difficult to plant because of all the deer. I use 5-gallon buckets (from Home Depot),I drilled drainage holes, filled them almost to the top with fresh potting soil to avoid disease and plant already established plants. I do this on my deck so there is no danger of deer eating my plants/vegetables. I cover the entire crop with plastic bird wire (to keep out racoons, they hate wire) and it works well every year. Even if we get a below freezing night, which has happened….I just pick up my buckets, bring them in the house and they are safe for the night. My garden consists of cherry tomatoes, Big Boy tomatoes, green bell peppers, cucumbers, and japanese eggplant. Wishing everyone a sucessful growing season.

2 Vine Fail Videos's Best Vine Videos { 05.16.14 at 12:34 am }

When the grape vines go into their second season of dormancy (second winter) select a
cane from last year’s growth that has turned woody, is at least as big around
as a pencil and that is long enough to reach the top of
the trellis. All other canes need to be cut off just
above the second bud. When you are drunk every day, experts say could actually ease down and get rid of arthritis.

3 Brenda Rose { 05.05.12 at 11:06 pm }

I was happy w/my new rental. That is until I realized that all the backyard sun was on the barren patio. I got cinder blocks, placed 2 high & 20 long & filled this space with luscious soil. I use the holes to plant the annual herbs, nasturtiums & columbine. Trust me, all your container plants need are TLC. I water the outside of all terra cotta pots & cinder blocks to insure moisture. The yield of veggies were fantastic.

4 Shaari :) { 04.25.12 at 11:50 pm }

Short season cherry tomatoes and golden gem marigolds are great in a hanging pot with our sun low on the horizon :)

5 Jaime McLeod { 04.23.12 at 9:54 am }

Linda, any tomato should do fine in a container. Your seed packet should tell you how much space your tomato plant needs, but a washtub is generally a good size.

6 linda wilbur { 04.21.12 at 2:38 pm }

I would like to know what tomatoe plant will do well in container and what size container to use. I live in northwest Georgia and it can get very hot and dry.

7 Amy { 04.18.12 at 10:20 am }

Every year I have tried squash and zucc. And every year I get rot and mold covered leaves. I put them in an area where there was full sun last year thinking the year before they may have not gotten enough. What’s the problem?

8 Ann Philbeck { 04.15.12 at 5:41 pm }

I just planted my container garden tomato plants that I grew from seed. I put then on my back deck that gets sun all day long. My vegetable garden is quite a way from my house so this way when I need a quick tomato I can just grab one or two from right out the door.

9 Shrub Gardener { 04.12.12 at 9:22 pm }

Some great advice! I’ve been looking to expand my home gardening away from just shrubbery and grass, and you’ve inspired me! Plus, who wouldn’t love being able to just grab lunch right out of the garden?

10 Susan { 04.12.12 at 9:15 am }

I had a beautiful healthy garden going on my screened in porch, however too late I realized why my plants weren’t producing veggies despite many buds. Yep, needed the bees to help pollinate them, once I realized that I needed to help the pollinazation I started getting tomatoes and peppers like crazy. So the moral of the story is, screened in porches are not the best place, unless you want to channel your inner bee :-)

11 Elaine Harper { 04.11.12 at 2:57 pm }

Wendy – I live in Deep East Texas and have successfully grown Chocolate Cherry Tomatos, Black Beauty Eggplant, Jalapeno and Serrano Chilis, Black Zuchinni, Red and Green Bell Peppers, Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, Mesclun, Danvers Half Long Carrots, Parsley, Rosemary, Chives, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Cilantro, Peppermint and Orange Mint all in pots and/or trough-size boxes on my deck. I also tuck in pots of French Marigolds, Provence Lavander, Salvia, Angelonia. We attract butterflys and hummers as an additional bonus. Check pots for moisture daily and lightly feed weekly. Protect herbs and lettuces in very cold weather. Annually rotate plantings if you can. Happy gardening and butterfly/bird watching.

12 Wendy Good { 04.11.12 at 1:33 pm }

Which plants will grow best in outdoor containers in the Fort Worth/Dallas area of Texas?

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