Did you know you can grow fresh fruits and vegetables even if you have limited garden space—or no garden space at all? If you have space for hanging baskets, you can grow some of your own food.
Hanging baskets allow you to make the most out of a balcony, a porch, patio, or even a kitchen window. When you choose plants that grow well in a small space, with a lightweight potting mix you can yield some great results that will add taste and nutrition to your family’s meals.
First, let’s look at what edible plants grow well in hanging baskets. You actually have a surprising variety from which to choose. Here are some options:
- cherry tomatoes
Choose the Right Basket
Most fruits and vegetables will require a basket that is at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches in diameter. Baskets made of wire and coconut fiber do well for edible gardens because they are lightweight and drain well. If you use a plastic container, be sure there are enough holes in the bottom to provide adequate drainage. Instead of using heavier potting clay, use a lightweight organic potting soil mix that is suitable for edible gardening.
Get More Bang for Your Buck
You can expand this list by selecting bush, compact, or dwarf varieties of plants. In addition, you can expand your growing capabilities by planting different but compatible plants in one basket. For instance, you can plant lettuce in the center of the basket and add beans along the sides. Another option is to plant radishes or beets in the center with peas along the sides. Be aware that tomatoes and peppers are heavy feeders, however, and do best when planted by themselves in a basket. If you are planting produce that will grow from the sides of your baskets, you will need to make holes in the sides of the basket at the appropriate places and insert the seedlings or starter plants in the pot at the right angles.
Consider the Growing Environment
Next, before you make your plant selections you need to consider the amount of sunlight your hanging basket will receive. Most fruits and vegetables require at least six hours of direct sunlight. If your location gets less sunlight, you can still grow some plants—such as certain lettuces and herbs such as mint, parsley and thyme—that can tolerate shade well.
If your basket is near a wall, be sure to rotate it each week to ensure that the entire plant receives enough sunlight.
Another aspect to consider is the weight of the plant as it grows. You may need to anchor a bracket or provide a trellis support system for the developing fruit of some plants. When you harvest the fruit as soon as it is ready, you will help reduce the weight on the vines, prolonging the health of the plant.
Stay on top of Watering
Hanging baskets tend to dry out quickly, so providing adequate water is essential. Most baskets require daily watering, so when you are choosing your location, consider how you will reach the basket with water. Watering wand extensions for the garden hose can come in handy for baskets that are hard to reach with a watering can.
In the heat of the summer, you may need to water some plants twice a day. Consider adding a layer of mulch to help the plant retain moisture between waterings.
Fertilize and Inspect Weekly
Plants consume soil nutrients faster in a hanging basket than they do when planted in your garden, so it's important to use fertilizers to increase your crop yield. Liquid fertilizers, which require that you add a few drops on a weekly basis, work well. (For free fertilizer, you can add clean and dry eggshells to enrich the soil for tomatoes.)
Weeds and pests usually are not a big problem for hanging baskets, but it is a good idea to inspect your basket garden for weeds or signs of insects on a weekly basis. At this time, it is also a good idea to prune any yellow or decaying leaves.
A side benefit of growing an edible garden in a hanging basket is its beauty. We are accustomed to seeing flowers in hanging baskets but fruits and vegetables have a charm of their own. Particularly when you mix a few plants in one basket, you can enjoy the varying colors and textures that not only provide tasty ingredients for your table, but also look great as they grow.