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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to grow something...maybe tomatoes. Backyard faces South and there is not much of a yard, but I have a big deck. Pots or...??

What's something simple I could try to grow this year? I need tips and simple info to get me started. What do I need to buy? Go easy and talk slow. :eek:

I receive plenty of goodies from family and friends, but I figured it's about time I learn this stuff. Who knows, I might actually enjoy it!

TIA
 

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How many hours of sunlight does the deck get?

Veggies, berries, and some dwarf fruit trees typically do fine in containers. Did you have something in particular that you really like and would like to try?

I would suggest your first stop should be at a local nursery to look at berry plants or fruit trees. They will carry what grows well in your area, and fruit always seems to have more bang for the buck, in my book. You plant it once, and you get fruit for years. If nothing there strikes your fancy, you can always pick up some veggie plants that have already been started for you.
 

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Tomatoes are easy if you have a big enough pot. Likewise peppers grow well in pots as do lettuces.

With pots you need to stay on top of watering them as they will dry out in no time during the summer. They'll be fine in the morning and half dead by 4 pm on a hot day so you have to be willing to give them attention twice a day.

This might be helpful: Container Gardening | Kansas City Community Gardens

Plant seeds according to package directions. It's too early to start them here yet. I would wait 2-3 weeks if you are going to start them indoors with grow lights, so they can be set out in early May.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Madhen, not sure how many hours of sun. There is some big trees, but I'm sure enough sun.
Yeah, I was just thinking about picking up some plants that have been started. Wouldn't I have to repot them?

Tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers was something I was thinking about. CH, thanks for the link.
 

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Yes, you would need to repot them, and all three would need larger pots (I'd go a couple of gallons), if you want any real fruit from them. If the tomatoes are indeterminate (will say on the label), you'll also want to stake them. Wouldn't hurt to stake the cukes, either.

All three are relatively easy to grow, so good choices for learning on.
 

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Backyard faces South and there is not much of a yard, but I have a big deck. Pots or...??

Who knows, I might actually enjoy it!TIA
Everyone else talked about pots.......I will mention putting them in the ground. I think it is cheaper and less hassle. Potting soil isn't exactly cheap when you start to fill numerous pots.

Sun.......should be a MINIMUM of 6 hours.......and that would be pushing it.......8 or more is good.

Do you have any place to put them in the ground? They don't need much room. Don't know your soil.........do you? Good soil?.....clay?.....rock?..sand?...what?

And---while I wait for those answers......whatever way you go...if you are buying the plants now and 'holding' them in your house you will need to do what is called "hardening them off" before you put them outside...........in pots or in the ground.

Hardening off is: setting them outside DURING THE DAY for the first COUPLE WEEKS at least BEFORE you put them out in their permanent place. Bring them in at night if you get cold....don't know your weather.........

I think you will like it............my backyard faces south and I have a decent garden every year...........if we get the 'normal' weather!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
FF, don't know about our soil...but I know it's not rock and sand. I have some areas along the wooden fence line. Would that work? We really don't have much of a back yard because our house is a raised ranch and the driveway goes in the back. There was also a pool that has been taken down, which the bricks is still planted around that spot. Plus the little yard we have slopes down, so was thinking the pots on the deck might work best.
 

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I have some areas along the wooden fence line. Would that work?
I bet the fence would create too much shade. Maybe if the fence was on the east side......so that once the sun got 'over the fence' it would be sunny.......probably wouldn't try it there otherwise.

The thing is with the veggies you mentioned.......they like LOTS OF SUN.......and the better the sun........the better the crop you will get (barring any bugs!! :laugh:)

The slope......if gentle.......wouldn't be a big problem IF it gets good sun.

SUN........is the MAIN INGREDIENT!

Do you know anyone that could give you some five gallon buckets? Could you contact a school and get some? Those are good.

WHATEVER you use for pots........it MUST have holes in the bottom for drainage. Just drill some holes........but has to have holes. (keep in mind what watering them will do to your deck......with the holes in the bottom...not sure how picky you are about that)

Not trying to discourage you but just letting you know.....and with the dirt in them it won't be like you can 'move them' to water them...especially when they get to growing.

Gardening is REALLY rewarding...........for the food that you get.......and the fun of watching things grow. I still get excited when I see that first bloom on the tomato plant!!

GET THE KIDS INVOLVED...........they will like it too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just my DD's car is parked under a part of the deck. Might be a nice payback from time to time. :laugh: Thank you for the great info. It really helps a lot. :)
 

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Ask someone in your area that gardens about the soil...........you "could" use part your soil........and part planting mix in the pot....I have done it before and it will be okay.........if you have 'decent' soil........not a bunch of clay.

The thing with potting soil is that it has 'stuff' in it to aerate it......so the roots don't smother/drown/whatever while they are expanding. In a 'regular' garden patch they can just grow forever.

I have pulled up tomato plants and had the roots go for five to six feet more than the plant area.

Spring garage sales are sometimes a great place to get pots........so keep that in mind.
 

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If you are going to use containers, I would recommend you pickup a few bags of the water crystals to mix in with the potting soil. This will help them to hold more water and make the watering slightly less crucial.

Do not buy top soil. That's not designed for containers. Be sure you get potting soil. For very large containers you can fill the bottom with standard packing peanuts to lighten it up a little bit before putting the soil on top. (Don't use the recyclable cornstarch peanuts that dissolve in water!)

Mixed looseleaf lettuces for salads are easy to grow in a container.

For tomatoes, you might choose a variety like 'patio' that is designed to grow in containers. Have a cage for them to grow up. You might try hanging the five gallon bucket and growing the tomato upside down (google it).

For cucumbers try to find bush rather than vining or you will need to include some kind of trellis or cage for it to grow on.

The most important things are full sun and being religiously attentive to watering. Although I am organic in my own yard, in containers, I might add a small amount of miracle grow as well, since the container plants can go through nutrients pretty quick as they wash out and annual plants have somewhat high nutritional needs.
 

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You can buy the Miracle Mix type soil that has the water crystals mixed in. I have a couple of huge containers on my deck, and I just put them on wheeled trays (that you can buy at most gardening/hardware type places for $10 or so). They move easily on those, and it is worth the $10 to not kill your back trying to budge them. It also helps preserve your deck from water damage if the pots sit there years and years.

I like the containers on my deck because they are right there, not down the slope where I have to remember to water them, harvest the veggies, etc. I see them every day, and that makes maintenance easy.


So, grocery list for one tomato that needs staking would be:
  • large pot (I like the self-watering kind, with a water reservoir, because tomatoes drink a LOT of water)
  • potting soil (if you want to spring a little extra money, get Fox Farm or Gardener & Bloome brand, and if you want to spring a lot of extra money, but get rewarded by the volume of fruit you get, buy the compost and plant directly in that)
  • tray with wheels (diameter to match bottom of pot)
For staking, I just use whatever I can find around the house (usually have SOMETHING straight that I can stick into the pot) and old nylons.

I also like to put a little bone meal at the roots, if I am using transplants vs. starting from seed, to stimulate growth, but that is totally optional.
 

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Here is another thread for your viewing pleasure. Click the link in it to get a series of pictures with instructions for building self-watering planters from two stacked pails. The planters aren't pretty but they work great, so if you can stand them on your deck, you should get good results. We put our tomato plants in the planters next to the chain link dog kennel and tie the plants to that as they grow.

Empty milk jugs with the lids screwed on are also a good way to fill the bottom of the pot so you can save some money on dirt.

We've had exceptionally good luck with Miracle Grow's dirt that has time-released fertilizer mixed in. It's a beautifully light soil mix that has worked better for us than anything we've ever used.
 

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I agree with the Miracle Grow dirt.........good stuff......costs a little more in my area but worth it......have had great results with it.

Our Costco will get large bags of it in for early spring......after May it is gone. (don't go alone to get it........heavy..)

I will even use it to enrich the dirt when planting in the ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you all for the great info, I'm definitely learning. :) I think I might just start simple with tomatoes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Heh, probably beefsteak. But I don't know! Cherry would be fun! Do all kinds need a stake?
 
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