ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Grow Food on Your Deck - For Beginners

Updated on May 5, 2019
Lettuces growing in my deck garden.
Lettuces growing in my deck garden. | Source

Urban Farming

I've always loved growing plants – especially vegetable plants. Even when I was a little kid, I grew a small vegetable garden next to my playhouse, even though we lived in town. As an adult, I lived on a very large farm and on a seven-acre hobby farm, and I grew big gardens on both. Now, my life has come full circle. I'm residing in the same house I grew up in, which, as I explained, is in town. We have a small yard, and the entire back yard has been turned into a deck and a fenced play area for our dogs. I've never lost that desire to grow our own food, however, so I created a container garden on the deck. My husband teases me, calling me a “farmer.” Urban farming and gardening has become extremely popular, but in my case, I suppose I'm more of a SUBurban farmer. Check out my container garden, along with some tips you might use with your own urban farm or suburban vegetable garden!


These potatoes are growing in a large plastic storage bin.
These potatoes are growing in a large plastic storage bin. | Source

Getting Started

I know it's tempting, but don't just start planting things willy-nilly. A successful garden takes planning. The number one requirement you'll need is sunshine. No matter what type of plants, water, soil, or fertilizer you use, they'll all be pretty useless if you don't have the proper amount of sunlight. Check out your proposed growing areas several times during the day to see how sunny they are. Most vegetables need at least six to eight hours of full sun each day, so choose your growing spaces accordingly.


Next, decide what you want to grow. What vegetables do you and your family enjoy eating? Make a list, and then find your planting zone. You can do that on the internet. I suggest talking to experienced gardeners in your area and studying seed/plant catalogs to discover which specific varieties do best for your zone. You'll also want to take required growing space into account. For example, many types of veggies are available in dwarf or bush varieties that require considerably less space than their traditional counterparts.


Now that you've narrowed down your choices, you'll need to find out what size containers you'll need. As a general rule of thumb, choose containers that hold three to five gallons of soil for most vegetables. Smaller containers can be used for herbs. Five-gallon buckets and large plastic storage bins work well for container gardening. Just be sure to drill holes in the bottom for sufficient draining.


Some of your plants will need structural support, and climbing plants will need something to cling to. I use metal tomato cages, bamboo stakes, woven-wire fencing, and plastic fencing. Help your plants by securing them loosely with strips of old tee shirts or pantyhose to the support.


For soil, use a good quality potting soil. I usually add compost and peat moss to commercial potting soil, along with some slow-release fertilizer. It's also important to note that some plants might need additional minerals. For example, if I don't add garden lime (calcium) to my tomatoes, my plants often get blossom end rot. You can find tons of information about growing different vegetables on Youtube.


Beans are easy to grow from seeds. These are climbing on woven-wire fencing.
Beans are easy to grow from seeds. These are climbing on woven-wire fencing. | Source

Plants Vs. Seeds

You're all ready to start your urban farm container gardening project, but do you grow from seeds, or do you purchase young plants? Some vegetables are super easy to grow from seeds, while others aren't. Here are the vegetables and herbs I grow from seeds: summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, bush beans, pole beans, carrots, lettuces, ornamental gourds, scallions, chives, parsley, thyme, and tarragon.


I purchase plants in order to grow eggplant, strawberries, hot peppers, sweet peppers, sage, basil, and rosemary.


For tomatoes, I buy plants and start some seeds indoors. For potatoes, I use store-bought spuds that have been allowed to sprout.


When buying plants, select the healthiest ones. Don't choose those that have already begun to fruit. It's also important to check the plants for insects. I find plants at Lowe's, Walmart, Tractor Supply, and local nurseries.


These cages are supporting indeterminate tomato plants.
These cages are supporting indeterminate tomato plants. | Source

Container Garden Maintenance

You can't just plant a container garden and ignore it! I examine my plants at least twice a day, checking moisture levels and looking for any insects, insect damage, and fungal/bacterial infections. Such problems need to be nipped in the bud if you want to save an affected plant.


Chances that insects will attack your garden are practically 100%, so be ready. You'll have to decide if you'll use chemical pesticides, or if you'll use organic methods of pest control. I use organic neem oil and insecticidal soap, when possible. There have been times, however, when I've had to turn to chemical pesticides in order to save plants from particularly resilient insects.


Nutrition is especially important for container gardening. On average, I feed my plants about every two weeks during the growing season. Your choices include compost, compost tea, worm castings, worm castings tea, fish emulsion, liquid commercial fertilizer, and granulated commercial fertilizer. Don't overdo it. Too much fertilizer at one time can injure roots and foliage.

These gourds are climbing a section of plastic fencing.
These gourds are climbing a section of plastic fencing. | Source
My strawberries are doing great!
My strawberries are doing great! | Source
5-gallon buckets work well for container gardens.
5-gallon buckets work well for container gardens. | Source

Experiment!

You first garden is likely to be a mixture of successes and failures. Every season, you'll learn something new. Be sure to label each container, so you'll know exactly which plant variety is growing in it. Make a note of which plants grow the best in your particular circumstances. That way, it will be easier to choose the plants you'll use in future seasons.


Container gardening is enjoyable and rewarding, but it does take a bit of effort. Even though I've had many gardens, a new problem occasionally pops up. As a result, I've spent hours researching, so it's important to do your homework. Youtube, other gardeners, your local extension service, books, and websites offer a vast array of information and tips. Make good use of these sources and be diligent in caring for your plants, and you'll have a beautiful deck garden.

Container Gardening Ideas:

How to Grow Tomatoes in Containers:

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)