Theme Gardens – Planning a Deck or Balcony Garden

Are you a gardener at heart, but live in the tight confines of an apartment or small house? I am a firm believer that we can have a garden anywhere. It might be on a windowsill or a balcony or a patio or deck, but it’s important for we gardeners to grow something. Think of it as a mental health exercise. Some people have to sing. Some have to dance. We have to sink our fingers into the earth, nurture tender seedlings, and harvest our own food fresh off the vine. So, how do we make the most of every inch of space available?

1. Choose plants types that are designed for small spaces.

Many plants have been coaxed into growing in compact environments. Some that I especially like are:

  • Sweet Pea Current Tomatoes – Tiny tomatoes full of rich tomato flavor. Grows well in either a container or hanging basket.
  • Patio Star Zucchini – Its name says it all! This is a small plant, but you still get regular sized zucchini.
  • Top Hat Blueberry – Fresh blueberries grown right on the deck. This prolific plant is dwarf-sized to grow in containers.
  • Patio Snacker Cucumber – The plant stays small but produces numerous full-sized cucumbers.


2. Choose plants that don’t take much space.

Even though I have a large raised bed garden space, I still grow several plants on my deck. I love just stepping out of the kitchen to harvest herbs or lettuce.

  • Leaf lettuces – Lettuce will grow in any space. I plant them in oblong containers, putting in more seed every two weeks or so to ensure a constant harvest.
  • Radish – I am not crazy over radish, but like to have a  few. Since they don’t take up much space, they are perfect for containers.
  • Purslane – Some people consider purslane a weed. I love it for its lemony flavor and its high Omega-3 level. Grows like leaf lettuce and will re-seed itself.
  • Watercress – Greens just naturally grow well in containers, saving my other garden space for larger plants.
  • Carrots – Like radish, this root crop takes very little space and adapts well to containers. Just make sure your containers are at least 10 inches deep.


3. Choose a variety of containers.

The size of your containers depends on how much space you have, but I like to grow my deck garden in a variety of container shapes, sizes and materials.

  • Round plastic pots – Although plastic pots are not as attractive as terra cotta or ceramic pots, they are much lighter and easier to move around.
  • Earth Boxes – These oblong trademarked boxes come complete with a screen and watering tube. I still am using Earth Boxes I purchased 15 years ago.
  • Potato bags – Yes, you can grow potatoes in bags on the deck! The bags are light-weight and the potato plants are large, lush, and make a good privacy screen.
  • Smart Pots – Smart Pots are soft-sided, breathable pots. I have successfully grown strawberries, pumpkins, zucchini, and tomatoes in them. The two gallon and five gallon sizes are good fits for a deck or balcony garden.

So, what about you, do you have a favorite container or plant for your deck garden?

Note: All of the above products can be found at Territorial Seed, with the exception of the blueberries. Top Hat blueberries can purchased from Cook’s Garden.




by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at Find her professional food writing info at

February 6, 2013

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