Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on March 18, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Decks, Patios Make Great Garden Sites
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Growing fresh produce for the picking doesn't always mean having an intensive garden, a square-foot garden or an acre or more. It can be as simple and fun as growing a basket of petunias, and baskets are where I would like to start.
We have used bushel baskets at my house for just about everything, and they give a Southern, country-style feeling. They are available at farmer's markets for just a few cents in all sizes and colors. I have a couple of baskets in my office that resemble the tall bongo drums used in Ricky Ricardo's band.
Bushel baskets are among the best, disposable containers for growing all kinds of plants. They come with handles, naturally drain well and look good on the porch, patio or deck.
Try growing two or three cabbages in a basket and maybe even place a small annual like alyssum in the pockets between the plants. Peppers also work well in a basket and can be interplanted with leaf lettuce.
For extra fun, try growing cherry tomatoes in a basket, and let the vines cascade out over the edge like you would a lantana or purple wave petunia.
My son James still talks about the time we planted Irish potatoes in a large basket. This might be just the way to get your children started in their first gardening project.
For a really awesome basket that will be the envy of fellow gardeners, try lettuce in a wire hanging basket. Get a wire basket and line it with moist sphagnum moss.
Fill the basket with a light potting soil. Then place leaf lettuce transplants about four inches apart in holes throughout the basket. Push the root ball through the moss into the moist potting soil. Be sure and place several transplants in the top of the basket, too!
Place the basket where it will get almost full sun. As the lettuce starts to grow you will have an almost perfectly round basket as pretty as an ivy or fern and a whole lot tastier.
You can choose to alternate a green leaf lettuce, like Black Seeded Simpson, with a red leaf lettuce like Red Sails in your basket, or make a basket of each.
If you have thought about growing herbs, but for some reason they still seem slightly mystical or just unknown, then try some in containers first.
You could try some in a bushel basket where they would certainly do well but on the other hand they look picture perfect in one of the Old World or European style containers.
Which herbs should be your first? You should certainly consider which might be most useful in your kitchen, such as basil, rosemary, oregano or thyme. These four really look good in a container and will give season long enjoyment. The fragrance of these herbs is an added bonus to the patio.
This is only the surface of the fun that can be had growing veggies and herbs in containers. The options are almost endless. Just remember to provide a large enough container for the roots, a good light potting soil, and enough sun, water and fertilizer during the summer months.