Vegetable Growing on the Patio
What Can You Grow on a Patio?
Patio Growing Potatoes in a Barrel
From Harrod Horticulture
Even if you’ve only got a paved patio or yard, you can still grow a surprising range of vegetables. You won’t be self sufficient but you can make a significant contribution to your food supply.
I’m often asked what vegetables you can grow in containers on a patio and the answer is most of them. If you’ve ever seen the top show growers with their large onions and leeks as long as your arm, you may be surprised to know they wouldn’t dream of growing in the soil!
Patio Salad Crops
The easiest thing to start with are the saladings. Any old pot will do as long as the compost is about 6″ deep. You can buy mixed variety seed packs of cut and come again varieties. Just scatter the seeds thinly across the top and cover with a very thin layer of compost then water.
As the young leaves grow to a couple of inches tall, cut off enough for your salad with a pair of scissors. We use a trough and it gives us about 4 meals per row. Once cut the seedlings will grow back again and you can then take another cut.
After about three cuts they become exhausted and you need to sow again. One packet of seeds for a pound or two will keep you in fresh salad leaves all summer.
Onions and Carrots
Still on the subject of salads, spring onions and carrots work well together. As the carrots develop, pull them up in alternating one to pull and one to grow. The same with the spring onions.
You need an early variety of carrot. Amsterdam Forcing or Early Nantes rather than the maincrop varieties but any spring onion will be fine. Early, in vegetable growing just means that a plant is ready to crop quickly. So if you are late planting you are best using an early variety that will crop quickly before the season changes.
Tomatoes either in a growbag or pot are ideal for a sheltered patio. If you can provide them with some cover towards the end of the season you will get more ripe tomatoes than green. Don’t forget green tomatoes make a fantastic chutney anyway.
Cucumbers do well in a pot, for outdoors go for a variety like Burpless Tasty Green. Unlike shop cucumbers they have spikes on the skin and need peeling but the flavour is far superior.
Other Patio Vegetables
Courgettes do well from pots on the patio and you can, in a good summer, get an excellent crop of peppers and chilli peppers although they do tend to do better in a greenhouse with the British summer.
If you’ve got a trellis up a wall then you can grow climbing beans up it. Runner beans can do well but they need to be watered frequently. If they dry the compost out then the flowers will not set to form beans. Painted Lady is a variety originally grown for its flowers that we’ve grown successfully in containers.
Cabbages and cauliflowers can be grown in pots although you are best looking for small varieties like Hispi that will not need too much nutrition to heart up. Even potatoes can be grown in a barrel on a patio. Best to go for the early varieties like Swift or Rocket.
Strawberries are a good patio plant but you can grow apples in pots. They’re quite decorative as well as productive.
Don’t forget with patio growing you will need to water regularly and feed as well or they will exhaust the soil. You can by organic feed or use inorganic fertilisers like Miracle Gro
As well as being the author of two books on growing your own, Vegetable Growing Month by Month and The Essential Allotment Guide I run the popular Allotment Vegetable Growing web site where the articles below are located. The links take you directly to the articles on that site.
- Container Gardening Patio Vegetables
- Container Vegetable Growing – Getting Started
- Container Vegetable Growing – What to Grow
- Container Vegetable Growing – Protecting Your Crops
- Container Gardening – General Advice
- Basic How to Container Gardening