LIFE | MELINDA MYERS: Get maximum yield from minimal garden space

By Melinda Myers

Growing on a deck or balcony is a great way to bring the garden to your backdoor. You can attract butterflies and hummingbirds into easy view and grow edibles within close reach when cooking. For some, it may be the only available space to garden.

Make the most of every square foot by growing vertically. You’ll not only save space but also create privacy, make harvesting vegetables easier and create a garden that’s at eye level as you enjoy your outdoor space.

Train pole beans, like the Seychelles, up a decorative trellis, teepee of bamboo stakes or other creative support. You’ll be able to harvest these delicious five- to six-inch stringless beans without bending.

Pick and enjoy a healthy treat of Snak Hero edible podded peas right on the deck.  If any of these tasty peas make it into the house, you can add them to a relish tray, stir fry or freeze a few to enjoy later.

Plant a few Green Light Cucumbers and enjoy the abundant harvest of forty 3- to 4-inch fruits. Put away the peeler, slice and enjoy these smooth seedless cucumbers.

Be sure to include a few tomatoes. Apple Yellow’s fruit are shaped like a small apple, colorful and ornamental. You’ll have plenty to enjoy as each plant can produce up to 1,000 tomatoes. These bright lemon-yellow tomatoes have a sweet citrusy flavor and firm exterior, making them perfect for stuffing.

Grow some flowers for added color and don’t forget the herbs. You’ll enjoy the evening fragrance of Perfume Deep purple nicotiana, the bold leaves and bright orange flowers of South Pacific Orange canna and the vibrant red flowers of Holi Scarlet zinnia.  Mix in a few of your favorite herbs to add texture and color to the garden and flavor to your meals.

These All America Selections (AAS) winning varieties (all-americaselections.org) are tested nationally for their flavor, beauty, and performance in home gardens. This non-profit trialing organization names only new, non-GMO varieties as winners.

Gardening on decks and balconies offer many advantages, but also a few challenges. Winds can be brutal, toppling over or launching tall, leafy plants into flight. Use a heavier pot to help anchor plants or tether the container to a post or railing mounted on the deck or balcony.

Drainage is critical to container gardening success but can be a problem when you inadvertently shower your neighbor below when watering your plants. Consider using a self-watering container and be careful not to overfill the water reservoir.

Another solution is to place containers on a saucer to capture excess water instead of allowing it to seep to the deck or balcony below.  Elevate the pot in the saucer with a commercial or homemade device.  You’ll be able to monitor the water level to avoid overflows and keep the pot above the water to prevent root rot.

With proper plant selection and adjustments in your gardening style, get ready to enjoy a season full of tasty vegetables and gorgeous flowers.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” gardening DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by AAS for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ web site is www.melindamyers.com.

 

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