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Patio gardens offer different methods of growing

April 6, 2012

By ANGIE CARNATHAN
sdnlife@bellsouth.net

For those who don’t have the time, tools or space for a full summer garden, patio gardens are a great alternative. Patio gardens offer a way to grow some herbs and vegetables in 5-7 gallon pots.

Russell Hamilton, nursery supervisor at the Oktibbeha County Co-Op, said lots of varieties can be grown in smaller spaces such as patios and decks.

“You want to pick things that are going to grow lower, things that don’t necessarily need to be staked,” Hamilton said. “So when you’re picking a tomato bush, you want to pick varieties such as Bush Goliath or Amelia. Cherry tomatoes do great in a small pot, too.”

Hamilton said, depending on the weather and how much rain has fallen, most vegetable varieties need to be watered two times a day.
“Just about all the peppers can be planted in small pots,” Hamilton said. “Eggplants are good, too.”

Two plants Hamilton discouraged from planting outside of the ground was cucumbers and squash.

“They have too many vines to be grown in a pot,” Hamilton said. “I know people who have done it, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.”
Hamilton said to stay clear of watermelons and cantaloupes, too.
As for bulb varieties, such as onions and garlic, Hamilton said one could certainly grow those in a small pot.

“You could even do potatoes and sweet potatoes,” Hamilton said.
One well-loved patio gardening project is the herb garden. Hamilton said herbs are grown easily in a pot –– sometimes several in one pot. He also recommended a creative way of separating the varieties, a trend he said is popular this year.

“I’ve known people who plant them in combinations of what they’re going to use together when cooking,” Hamilton said. “As in, they might do a ‘pizza herbs’ pot or a ‘salad herbs’ pot. I’ve even heard of a ‘salsa pot.’”

Hamilton said, in the case of no rain, typically herbs should be watered once a day.

He offered a good rule of thumb for knowing whether or not to water.
“Stick your fingers about two inches down into the soil,” Hamilton said. “If it’s dry, you need to water. If it’s still wet, leave them alone.”
Hamilton said the first sign that a plant is being under or over watered is a change in color. Hamilton also said to make sure the plants get plenty of sunlight.

“The great thing about planting in small pots is that you can move your plants into the best sunlight,” Hamilton said. “They’ll need as much direct sunlight as they can get.”

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