Starting a patio kitchen garden is an easy way to add more vegetables, flowers, and herbs to your space. In this article, I’ll show you what you need to grow fresh food on your patio or balcony.
Grow With Me Gardening Series
This is part of the Grow With Me Gardening Series here at Cottage On Bunker Hill. I want to teach you ways of starting, maintaining, and enjoying gardening. I will share all the tips & tricks that I have learned over the years growing both vegetable and flower gardens here in the Northeast.
How To Start a Patio Kitchen Garden
Starting a patio kitchen garden is easier than you think! With just an elevated raised bed and planters, you can start growing fresh herbs, vegetables, and flowers that fit on your patio or balcony,
This year I knew I wanted to add as many plants and flowers to my yard as I could. I have a large garden area on the side of our house that I use for vegetables and flowers, and perennial beds wrapping around the house…
But if you are a gardener you know that you always want to add “just a few more plants” or make your garden “just a little bigger”.
Finding a Location
Ideally, you want a kitchen garden close to your house and kitchen.
The idea is to be able to walk out your door and collect what you need for your meal.
I have a crushed stone patio off the back of the house where we have our outdoor furniture and grill. We enjoy spending time out here during the Summer and I thought it would be an ideal spot to add a kitchen garden.
When picking a spot for your kitchen garden, whether it be on a patio like mine, a deck, or in your yard, you want to find a sunny spot that ideally has 6 hours or more of sunshine.
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Choose Your Containers/ Garden Beds
One thing that I knew for sure is that I didn’t want to dig a garden! This time I wanted to do it in raised beds and containers.
When I started researching elevated raised beds I couldn’t believe how many I found online. There are so many options of elevated raised beds that would work on a stone patio like mine or on a deck.
I settled on 2 of these cedar Expert Gardener raised beds from Walmart for $99 each. They are well made and sturdy too.
here are a few raised bed choices
Once I put them together I loved them but they looked so new.
I decided to give them a quick weathered look (because I am impatient and didn’t want to wait the year for the cedar to naturally age) and did an application of Minwax Wood Effects over both of the raised beds.
Now it was time to decide how I wanted to design my little kitchen garden area. The sunny corner of the patio was the best spot for the plants to be able to soak in the most sun.
To fill the elevated beds, first I added a layer of mulched leaves…the leaves help save on the amount of soil you will have to add therefore saving you a few bucks along the way.
Then I filled up the rest of the beds with an organic all-purpose raised bed mix. It is formulated especially for the needs of plants growing in raised beds.
Choose Your Plants
Now the fun part! Decide on what you want to grow in your kitchen garden!
You can choose plants based on how much sunlight they require, whether they’re annuals or perennials, and how big they will eventually become. If you plan to grow vegetables then take into account how big the plants will get!
There are many varieties of “patio” tomato plants that have a more compact size and are less sprawling than other tomato plants that would be perfect for a small kitchen garden.
Peppers and smaller varieties of eggplant are also wonderful choices for an elevated bed. There are also small patio varieties of cucumber plants that you can grow in containers and use stakes or a tomato cage to grow them up vertically.
Perfect for the Patio:
- Patio Tomato
- Patio Cucumber
- Summer Squash
One of the key reasons that I wanted to add this new garden space is to have a place for all my herbs. Usually, I have them all out in my big garden but this year I wanted to use the space to add more flowers. ( I can’t wait for all my flowers to start coming in so I can show you all!!)
Herbs are perfect to grow in pots or small raised beds because of their compact size and height. Plus it’s just so nice to be able to go out the back door and clip fresh herbs to add to your cooking!
Favorite Herbs to Grow:
The more flowers the better!! I want my outdoor space to be filled with color and be a spot that I love to hang out in ( I’m out here writing this!).
Fill pots with your favorite annuals or perennial flowers. You can also use a patio garden as a spot to start flowers from seed.
Think about throwing a few smaller variety sunflower seeds in a big planter…how fun!
Growing Tip: Not only will the flowers be beautiful to look at they also are doing an important job… attracting pollinators to your kitchen garden.
Putting the Kitchen Garden Together
Although I did buy the new raised beds and a few new large planter pots to start this kitchen garden, I also used the stash of empty planters and containers that I already had.
My goal is to try and grow as much as I can on the patio. I’m going to fill up the pots with a combination of plants, flowers, and flower and vegetable seeds.
I’m not talking fancy pots just your basic large nursery pots that I had stacked up in the garage. Use what you already have!
Growing Tip: Make sure to use potting mix made for containers and not garden soil when filling up pots and raised beds.
I did make a run to my local Lowe’s and picked up a few larger red and blue planters plus a few more plants to add to this patio garden.
These resin planters are pretty large, so to save on the amount of potting mix I would have to add I used a trick I saw my friend Stacy use on her gardening YouTube channel. I crushed up a bunch of small nursery pots (you know I have a ton of them!) and layered them on the bottom of the planters.
For this corner of the patio, I filled one of the pots with a bright cone flower plant (my husband loved it when we were at Lowe’s), a flowy purple & white annual (Serena Angelonia), some snapdragons that I had started indoors that wouldn’t fit in my garden, lemon grass, and a couple of pots of flower seeds nestled in there too.
In the elevated garden bed on this corner of the garden, I planted a variety of herbs, lavender, a small eggplant, and a pepper plant
In the second raised bed I added a couple of hotter peppers, cilantro, Thai basil, chives, and regular basil. Plus a pretty annual in the center that will flow over the edge.
One reason that I was sold on this particular raised bed was the big bottom shelf! There is plenty of room for my gardening supplies and extra pots.
It’s a great spot for pots of sweet mint and pineapple mint. Plants in the mint family are very evasive which means they spread shoots underground and will take over a garden bed quite quickly so it is best to contain them in pots.
Mint is great to have around your garden not only for flavoring your iced tea but the strong smell deters garden pests.
But I just love the smell of the mint wafting through the breeze when I’m out here. The pineapple mint plant is from Lowe’s, I highly recommend picking one up because the scent is amazing…plus the variegated leaves are so pretty.
On the ground next to this raised bed, I did another collection of planters.
I added another one of the red coneflower plants (they were on sale), a citronella plant that smells sooooo good, and then I planted a few pots with seeds (bush beans, zucchini, and summer squash).
Growing a summer squash and zucchini plant in pots is going to be an experiment for me. I’m going to see if using this method deters squash vine borers. It will be easier to keep the pots covered with bug fabric this way.
Nestled between the 2 elevated beds I created one more area for this kitchen garden. When I saw this large pot of lavender at Walmart I had to have it! Isn’t it gorgeous!!
In the center, I used a ceramic dish on top of a terra cotta pot as a little birdbath.
For a cottage touch to this patio garden I used a few of the antique croquet wickets I found last month at a local vintage market. You can check out what I did with them in my flower garden too.
Now it’s time to watch everything grow!! I will continue to update the progress of my kitchen patio garden as the season progresses.
One thing that happened this week is something dug into my pot of carrot seeds…it looked like either a chipmunk or even maybe a skunk’s snout looking for bugs. What I’m thinking is that I am going to cover the seed pots with a chicken wire cloche and see if that deters the little buggas!
The new kitchen garden makes such a difference out on the patio area now! It defines the space while adding such a pretty fragrance to the air from all the herbs. It was the perfect backdrop for my Patriotic Party
Patio Garden Takeaways
- You don’t need a huge space to grow a substantial amount of veggies this year
- Use what you already have!
- If you do want to buy an elevated bed most are under $100. Plenty of room for a garden!
- Make sure to use potting mix made for raised beds/containers
- Plant what you love! Create a sanctuary.
- Keep pollinators in mind and add flowers to attract them.