Look upward if you need more gardening space.
Take your gardening endeavors to new heights and use hanging baskets to grow fruits and vegetables. We all enjoy fresh produce for our summer salads and pies, but many of us just don’t have the room for a full-size garden. Even container gardens can take up a lot of valuable space in your yard or deck. Put those old macramé plant hangers to good use and plant up some hanging strawberries and tomatoes. You can go to your local nursery and purchase a traditional peat moss covered, wire basket with a chain, or you may get creative with an old colander, wicker basket, or watering can. As long as there are drainage holes, it can be made into a hanging basket. Remember; when choosing your basket, go with one that will be able to support the weight of your growing plant and produce, as well as water. And a basket that hangs from a chain will work better than one with a flimsy, plastic hook.
Prepare the basket with a liner (you can simly use the bag from your potting soil), making sure there are adequate drainage holes in the liner and basket. Use a quality potting mix, and apply a slow release fertilizer throughout the summer. Be very diligent about watering, because hanging baskets, like any container garden, dries out quickly. Obviously not every crop can make it in a hanging basket—watermelons are way too heavy and corn is way too tall. But there are still plenty of smaller plants that won't break your basket. Here are five lovely plants that will give you delicious and colorful produce throughout the season.
Otherwise, growing produce in hanging baskets isn't much different from growing it in pots on the ground! Here are a few crops that will do well way up high.
Tomatoes are popular as hanging basket plants. Some varieties are bred specifically for this purpose, such as the Torenzo Hybrid Tomato. Other compact bush types are available; just your local nursery for selections. Container tomatoes demand a lot of nutrients and water, so don’t overcrowd your basket with more than one plant.
Strawberries, especially the small Alpine Strawberries, are popular for growing in hanging baskets. The sweet fruit hangs over the edge below the foliage, making them easy to pick. Alpine strawberries tolerate partial shade, bear fruits all summer, and require little maintenance. Since these plants have shallow roots, you will need to water frequently.
Lettuce does well in a hanging basket because it is lightweight and easy to grow. It enjoys full sun but, when the Southern summer really sets in, move your lettuce to a spot that gets more shade. This will help keep the leaves from wilting and getting bitter. Since you usually just snap off as many lettuce leaves as you will need for your meal, make sure to place your lettuce baskets in a good location and height so you can reach them.
Mexican Sour Gherkins
Most vining vegetables are too heavy for a basket; cucumbers and squash do best in the ground where they can crawl. For a basket garden, try these cute Mexican Sour Gherkins, which resemble mini watermelons but are similar to cucumbers in taste. They are great for pickling, cocktails, salads, or eating off the vine. They grow well in sunny spots, but keep them watered.
We probably don’t have to tell you that herbs are the ideal hanging basket plant. Basil, parsley, sage, chives, lavender, and mint are some good herbs to start with. If you plant more than one herb in a basket, remember to plant the tallest varieties in the center and the smaller ones towards the outside. Use some of those delicious herbs to make fabulous herb butter.
Don't let the lack of backyard space discourage you from growing an edible garden. Use your imagination and turn old pots and cans into gardening vessels.The sky is the limit!