My 2024 Urban Container Garden - New Beginnings!

My 2024 Urban Container Garden - New Beginnings!

Last year brought about a lot of changes. The biggest being we moved!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to orchestrate and plant a garden during last year’s growing season. But our new patio is huge compared to our previous place, and I can’t wait to cover it with plants in 2024!

The Space

It’s been awhile since I’ve started a garden from scratch. Therefore, I’d like to walk through how I assess and plan my container gardens.

An overview of our new patio

The first thing I consider with a new space is it’s purpose. Outdoor space is hard to come by in urban environments. Because of this, they usually serve a dual purpose.

A typical apartment balcony or patio might serve as an extended kitchen, with a grill and seating for eating outside. It might be an entertainment space for guests, or a sequestered spot to entertain kids and pets. Often, I would argue most people in the city use their outdoor space to do all of these things!

Space management is key in the city. And a successful multipurpose space requires prioritization.

As much as I love gardening, me and my husband’s main goal for our patio is a relaxing space to entertain ourselves and guests. Second would be having space to grill, and third is having a big bountiful garden.

Enjoying the patio with a margarita

Last year, I prioritized setting up the space for entertaining and grilling. We got this patio furniture set with a gas fire-pit table which we love so far! The little gas fire-pit adds fun ambiance with out the constant smoke put off by a real fire. And we were surprised by the amount of heat it gives off too!

Since I already have the patio set up for my first and second priorities, the remaining space is all available for gardening.

The Strategy

This is the biggest patio I’ve ever worked with. Which is exciting, but also overwhelming.

So much space. So many possibilities! My brain immediately jumps into overdrive thinking about all the ways I can maximize this garden. But that usually leads me to feeling overwhelmed and burnt out before I even start!

Luckily, I’ve done this enough times to realize starting small is the key to getting started with a fresh garden.

I like to impose limitations on myself so I don’t spend all my energy “maximizing” before planting. Maximizing can come later. Most likely, a few years in after I’ve seen what grows best in the space and we’ve spent some time living in it.

To start the 2024 season, I’m imposing the limitation of only using the pots I already have.

I would love to go out and blow a bunch of money on bigger, fancier containers (like these galvanized raised beds). But without knowing how I like to use the space yet, this seems misguided.

I’m also limiting myself to planting a handful of things at a time, as opposed to buying all my plants at once like I usually do.

To do this, I’m going to experiment with succession planting. Succession planting involves planting a crop immediately following the harvest of another. It’s common practice for most gardeners, but requires a little bit of planning ahead.

Last week, during an unseasonably warm day, I decided to start my first wave of succession crops by throwing a bunch of old seeds in some dirt and seeing what would come up. I didn’t even buy proper potting soil! I used some very old indoor potting mix that was lying around.

Little transplants sprouting

Now I have pea, carrot, and radish transplants sprouting next to the back door. Hopefully the weather cooperates and I can move them outside in a couple of weeks.

New Challenges

Unfortunately, more space doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger, better garden. My new patio doesn’t get a ton of unobstructed sunlight, and I’m concerned about how that will affect my harvest.

At our previous residence, my plants got well over 8 hours of direct sunlight every day.

Now, we have a ground level patio, surrounded by a high wall, on a tree lined street. By mid afternoon, the building obstructs all sun to the patio.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! It’s a wonderful set up for sitting outside and grilling in the evening. But it’s not ideal for gardening.

Most of the produce I love to grow (like cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers), need a lot of sun. I question if my new patio gets enough sun to really let them flourish. And if it doesn’t, what’s the solution? Growing vertically? More shade loving crops like spinach and lettuce?

Regardless of the challenges, I’m looking forward to a fresh start this growing season!

About Me

Hi, I’m Allison! Over the years, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about growing your own food at home. Now, I want to share that knowledge with others. When I first started gardening, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information available on the subject. It was intimidating! But after years of trial and error, I learned that growing produce at home need not be as technical and complicated as some make it out to be.

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