What Can You Grow on a Patio?
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 the compost dries 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. Decorative and tasty!
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 and other fruit trees 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 buy organic feed or use inorganic fertilisers like Miracle Gro or Chempak.
If you do keep feeding inorganic fertilisers, it’s a good idea to check the pH (acidity) with a meter after a year and correct with a dusting of lime if necessary.
Articles on Frugal Growing Your Own Fruit and Vegetables
- Month by Month
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in January
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in February
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in March
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in April
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in May
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in June
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in July
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in August
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in September
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in October
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in November
- Vegetable & Fruit Growing in December
- Why Grow Your Own Vegetables & Fruit
- Vegetable Fruit and Herb Growing on the Patio in Containers
- Small Space Vegetable Growing
- Greenhouses – Frugal Buying Guide to a Greenhouse