Excerpted from: How to Grow Practically Everything ,
Pots and Crops Create Productive Patio
Awash with colorful blooms and brimming with delicious crops, this tiny patio is both pretty and productive. You can either grow vegetables and flowers from seed, or buy a range of young plug plants from the garden center if space and time is limited.

Materials Needed

  • selection of large pots and hanging baskets
  • broken clay pot pieces
  • soil-based potting mix
  • slow-release fertilizer granules
  • tomato fertilizer
  • tomato 'Tumbling Tom'
  • tomato 'Gardener's Delight'; and 'Costoluto Fiorentino'
  • asparagus pea
  • herbs
  • pot marigolds (Calendula)
  • summer squash 'Sunburst'

Step 1: Sow Seeds

When to Start: Early spring
At Its Best: Summer to early autumn
Time to Complete: 3 hours to sow; 1 day to plant up

Either buy plants in late spring or sow seed earlier. If you need only one or two tomato plants, it may be easier to buy young plants. Sow chard seed directly into pots in spring. The asparagus pea is a gourmet vegetable that's easy to grow: simply sow the seed indoors in late spring and, as the weather warms up, harden off the seedlings by placing them outside during the day. To grow the squash, follow the sowing and planting methods for zucchinis, and sow some marigolds to brighten up the display.

Step 2: Plant After Frosts

When all danger of frost has passed, plant up the seedlings and young plants in large containers of soil-based potting mix. Vining tomatoes are best planted in large baskets; partner them up with herbs or trailing bedding plants, such as ground ivy. Also consider buying or making small raised beds, which are perfect for packing lots of vegetables into tight spaces. When planting the peas, add sticks to support them.

Step 3: Water Daily

Crops in pots must be watered every day in summer, and the fruiting and podded vegetables benefit from a weekly feed with tomato fertilizer to encourage a bumper harvest. Pick the crops as soon as they ripen.

Top Tip: Bags of Fun

Growing crops in large bags is a popular idea for small patio gardens. You can either buy specialized products in an assortment of colors, or use strong recycling bags. Large plants, such as potatoes and zucchinis, that require lots of space and soil, are ideal for bags, which are generally cheaper than containers of the same size.

Trailing zucchinis, such as 'Tromboncino', are decorative plants with large leaves, sunny yellow flowers, and cream-colored fruits. Use vine eyes to fix coated wires up your wall or fence, and tie in the stems to make a screen of delicious vegetables.

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