Patio Gardening Tips for Growing Flowers and Vegetables in NC

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The arrival of warmer weather and sunny days signals the start of spring, and many people in Charlotte are eager to show off their green thumbs.

Even if you don’t have a yard of your own or a community garden in your neighborhood, patios and balconies are still prime real estate for flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Here are some expert tips for turning your patio or balcony into a green oasis this gardening season:

How to Start a Patio Garden

The first thing you need to do if you want to start a patio or balcony garden is figure out what kind of light you’re working with, Steven Moorman, director of Rountree Nursery & Supply, told The Charlotte Observer.

“It will determine what type of plants you have access to, sun or shade plants,” he said.

From there, you need to decide what type of container you’re going to use, like a raised bed or a planter, and “make sure it drains properly.”

“Those two things would be the most important,” Moorman said.

Once you’ve figured out what you can plant for your patio or balcony light and decided on containers, advises Moorman, it’s time to start figuring out what to do with the soil.

“You’re going to want to use good quality soil that doesn’t have water retention – just straight soil,” he recommends. “It’s okay if it has fertilizer mixed in, but you don’t really want one that will retain more moisture than necessary.”

Moorman also advises against “adding compost or cow manure or any other such additives, as those things will only weigh down your soil and hold more water than you want.”

“A good straight container floor would be the way to go,” he said.

Once you’re ready to put your soil and plant in your container, “you want to fill the container without over-tightening it,” says Moorman. “When you put your plant in the container, you want to fill (the container) around the plant. But you don’t want to glue each layer tightly.

“Depending on the variety of plants, you can mulch the top or not,” he added. “With the container, it cuts down on the mess in that when you do water or when it rains, it keeps spills from getting onto your concrete.”

The best plants for a patio garden

Most plants, flowers and vegetables can grow in containers, says Moorman, even those you might not expect.

“Believe it or not, most shrubs do very well in containers,” he said. “Even the smallest ornamental trees, again depending on container size, can do well in containers.”

Still, some common plants, such as gardenias and Lenten roses, “won’t be happy in a container,” he added.

“Most everything else is fine,” Moorman said.

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Mary Ramsey is a duty reporter for The Charlotte Observer. Originally from the Carolinas, she studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and has also worked in Phoenix, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.

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