Do you wish you could grow your own vegetables, but lack the yard space? Container gardening makes it possible to grow veggies, herbs, and fruits even if you only have a small patio or balcony. With the right containers and plants, you can create a productive container garden for just pennies on the dollar compared to fancy store-bought planters.
) containers that anyone can use for container vegetable gardening, as well as tips for success. Let’s dive in and learn how you can grow fresh, homegrown produce this season using items you already have at home!
Transform Household Buckets into Planters
One of the most widely available and affordable container options is the humble household bucket. With a bit of drilling and cleaning, buckets that once held paint, drywall compound, or food ingredients can be repurposed into productive planters for patio vegetable gardening.
Sourcing Used Buckets
Used buckets are often given away for free, or available very cheaply:
- Ask at local hardware stores for leftover paint buckets
- Check Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for cheap or free buckets
- Repurpose buckets from your own home improvement projects
Prioritize food-grade HDPE plastic buckets, but most buckets are fine as long as they are cleaned properly before using.
Preparing Buckets for Planting
To transform a regular bucket into a planter:
- Thoroughly clean the bucket with soapy water, scrubbing all surfaces
- Use a drill to make several drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket
- Optionally paint or decorate buckets to make them decorative
- Fill bucket 2/3 of the way with quality potting soil
Then you’re ready to plant your vegetable seeds or seedlings! The drainage holes allow excess water to flow out the bottom, while the remaining soil provides moisture and nutrients to your plants.
Fabric Grow Bags Are Durable Yet Inexpensive
Another affordable container option for patio vegetable gardens is the trusty grow bag. These bags are made from breathable fabrics like polypropylene or burlap.
Benefits of Grow Bags
Compared to plastic containers, grow bags have some advantages:
- Roots can access air and water through the fabric material
- Excellent drainage
- Lightweight and portable to move around
- Reusable for multiple seasons
Sizing and Sourcing Grow Bags
Grow bags typically range from 3-25 gallons. For patio vegetables, aim for smaller bags in the 5-15 gallon range.
You can find affordable grow bags at garden centers, hardware stores, or online retailers like Amazon. Look for bags made from durable materials that will last more than one season.
Using Grow Bags for Vegetables
To plant in a grow bag:
- Fill bag with quality potting mix, leaving a couple inches at the top
- Water thoroughly until water drains from the bottom
- Plant seeds or seedlings at the recommended spacing
- As plants grow, provide water, fertilizer and other care as needed
The lightweight bags make it easy to move your containers around your patio to capture optimal sun exposure.
Plant Right in Compost Bags
Surprisingly, the bags designed for compost can also be used for planting a vegetable garden!
About Compost Bags
Compost bags are made from breathable material designed to break down when placed outdoors in the elements. But they are sturdy enough to use for 1-2 seasons of vegetable growing.
Planting Directly in Compost Bags
To plant in a compost bag:
- Carefully cut or slit open the top of the bag before filling
- Fill bag with quality potting mix or compost
- Amend soil with organic fertilizer as needed
- Sow seeds or transplant seedlings
The compost bags will biodegrade over time, so you can simply rip open the sides of the bag and plant in the ground once finished.
Caring for Vegetables in Compost Bags
Monitor the compost bags frequently and provide plenty of water, as they tend to dry out faster than other containers. You may need to amend with fertilizer a few weeks after planting when the original nutrients deplete. Handle deteriorating bags gently to avoid damaging roots.
Best Vegetables for Patio Containers
Not all vegetables are well-suited for container growing. Focus on compact, fast-growing varieties that don’t require much space.
Greens and Herbs
Leafy greens and herbs are container all-stars. Try growing:
Root veggies can thrive in narrow, deep containers. Good options include:
Fruits and Peppers
With the right container size, you can grow patio-friendly varieties of these popular vegetables:
- Cherry tomatoes
Look for compact, determinate tomato varieties and dwarf pepper cultivars.
Beans and Peas
Make use of vertical space by growing vining beans and peas:
- Pole beans
- Bush beans
- Snow peas
- Sugar snap peas
Use trellises or cages to support the vines as they grow.
Caring for Container Vegetable Plants
Container gardening comes with its own unique set of cares compared to in-ground gardening. Here are some top tips for success:
Sun and Space Requirements
Most edible plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Choose the sunniest part of your patio or balcony and arrange containers to allow adequate airflow.
Water and Fertilizer Needs
Check soil moisture daily and water containers when the top few inches become dry. Container plants may need more frequent watering than in-ground plants. Use a slow-release organic fertilizer at planting time and supplement with compost tea or organic nutrients every 3-4 weeks.
Dealing with Pests and Disease
Aphids, whiteflies, cabbage worms, and powdery mildew are some common culprits. Avoid using chemical pesticides and practice organic prevention: introduce beneficial insects, use row covers, remove affected plant parts promptly, improve air circulation, etc.
With just a bit of planning and preparation, you can enjoy homegrown tomatoes, peppers, greens, and more – even without a yard. Affordable containers like buckets, grow bags and compost bags can all be used to grow vegetables successfully on a small patio or balcony.
The key is choosing compact vegetable varieties suited to containers, allowing adequate sunlight, and providing consistent watering and organic nutrients to your plants. In no time at all, you’ll be harvesting garden-fresh produce just steps from your back door.