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Deb Babcock: Patio gardening
Not everyone has a large outdoor space for gardening, especially those living in condominiums, apartments and densely populated neighborhoods. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an outdoor garden.
As long as you have a sunny spot to place a few potted plants, you can grow flowers, vegetables, small fruit trees, evergreens, grasses and more on your patio, deck, rooftop or balcony. Most any container, as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom, will serve as a place to grow plants. Consider half beer kegs (the wooden kind), an old washtub, a planter from the garden center, even an old wheelbarrow or child’s wagon.
You’ll want to drill holes in the bottom, if the planter doesn’t already have some in it, and then elevate the planter a couple of inches off the patio, deck or other surface so water can flow easily out the holes and drain. Many gardeners like to fill the bottom of the pot with gravel or shards of pottery so that the soil won’t clog the drainage holes as it flows out.
Once you have your planter situated where you’d like it, fill it with commercial potting soil from the store. Do not use soil dug up from around your home. No matter how good it is, garden soil tends to form a dense mass that is difficult for roots to move through and tends to hold too much water resulting in soggy, suffocating soil. It also can lead to soil-borne diseases in container plants.
If the potting soil you choose does not contain any organic matter or fertilizer, you will have best results if you mix 3 parts potting soil with one part compost (aged manure, or commercial bagged compost). Then, following directions on the fertilizer container, sprinkle a little over the soil and cover with another inch of your soil mixture.
Now you’re ready to plant seeds, seedlings or full-grown plants. And if the plant is one that needs support, such as tomatoes or roses, you might imbed a trellis into the soil before you put in your plant.