Ask an expert: What to plant in terraced garden
I need to plant vegetables in my terraced garden. I know people say that tomatoes are great for climbing, but I don’t want to grow them. They’re messy, and the fruit’s too small for me anyway. So what can I grow? What do you suggest?
* * *
Hi Peter, here is a list of suggestions: Garden Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)* – Beans and their relatives like broad beans, runner beans, and soya beans are all members of the legume family, which means they fix nitrogen into the soil as they grow. This improves soil structure making it more fertile and allowing other plants to thrive after them without needing much fertilizer. The beans themselves are edible pods, and they produce a reasonable amount of tasty vegetables within a short period.
- Gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) – Gourds are the fruits of perennial vines, and there are many different varieties to choose from, so you can be sure to find one that will grow well in your garden. They come in all shapes and sizes, including small ornamental ones, large decorative fruit shaped like watermelons or pumpkins, or long stripes that you can use to make vegetable marrows! All gourd plants help control common diseases in the soil because their roots release chemicals that suppress soil-borne pathogens. Other vegetables such as potatoes benefit too.
- Lettuce (e.g., crisp types like ‘Little Gem’ or medium-sized like ‘Iceberg’ lettuce) – Lettuce is very easy to grow. It prefers full sun but will tolerate part shade and likes cool weather, so it grows well in spring or autumn.
- Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) – Parsley is another plant that loves the sun, but it can cope with being partially shaded too. You can sow parsley seed directly into your garden bed, or you might want to start it off indoors where the soil temperature is more consistent because parsley hates fluctuating temperatures.
- Peas (e.g., sugar snap peas, climbing French varieties, or traditional English half-runners beans) – Peas are an excellent source of protein and contain all eight amino acids, so they are a perfect choice for vegetarians. They are ideally suited to growing in containers on a balcony because they’re not very tall, and you can quickly grow them up the wall using some twine or netting for support.
- Peppers (Capsicum annuum) – Peppers come in all shapes, colors, and sizes which is why they’re one of my favorite vegetables to grow! Sweet peppers have few calories but are rich in capsaicin, a phytochemical that may help protect against cancer. If you want chilies instead, then get sweet peppers instead of hot ones.
Depending on how long it takes you to get bored with each color, you can choose from red, orange, yellow, or green peppers. Then, at the end of the growing season, you can pick your peppers and store them in a dark, dry place for many months to enjoy all winter long.
- Potatoes (Solanum Tuberosum) – You can grow potatoes from seed or from purchased tubers to produce a good crop provided they get enough sun. However, very versatile vegetable potato plants are best kept well away from tomatoes because the two plants don’t get on together.
Also, avoid planting them near sage because this also gives off chemical substances that inhibit potato growth. While you’re waiting for your potatoes to grow, make sure you water them regularly, so they don’t wilt and die! Potatoes are such an important food staple that I’m surprised we only eat them with salt and nothing else. To enhance the flavor, try adding some rosemary or wild garlic leaves to your cooking.
Other suggestions… – Although these plants will grow well in containers, if you want to use them as part of a traditional garden, then I would suggest you plant them somewhere where they can’t be overlooked, i.e., not on your balcony!
- Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) – If you live somewhere too hot or dry for lettuce, you could try growing tomatoes instead. They like rich, moist soil, which means that if you don’t live in an area with good rain, then it’s probably best to plant them inside. Although tomatoes are self-pollinating, they bear better crops if there’s at least one other variety pollinating, i.e., nearby, because this increases the chances of them producing higher quality fruit and ripening more regularly.
Watering – Tomatoes need to be watered frequently but not too much because they do not like waterlogged conditions. If you prefer to use a soaker hose rather than a watering can, then it’s best to apply the water slowly over several hours instead of all at once because the plants will be able to take it in this way. When to plant – It’s best to start your tomato seeds indoors under lights about six to eight weeks before the last frost. If you live somewhere where there are risks of early frosts, then wait until very late in spring to plant them outdoors because they may not make it through the cooler temperatures.
The best way to grow a vegetable in a terraced garden is in containers. A container can be anything from a pot, barrel, or old bathtub. However, they are usually more expensive than growing vegetables in the ground because you will need some form of support for them, such as twine, netting, or even chicken wire.
This type of gardening also requires much more maintenance than traditional gardening, so if you’re not willing to put time into maintaining your plants, then this may not be the right solution for you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy getting dirt under your fingernails just like I do, then it’s worth considering planting vegetables in containers!
You’ll get better quality produce and have less likelihood of pests attacking them, which means that all your hard work won’t go to waste. A container garden doesn’t take up much more space than the vegetables themselves, so unless you’re planting for some contest, then it may be worth your while to try out this type of gardening.
If you’re growing the vegetables in an area that gets lots of sunlight, some water will be enough to keep them alive (e.g., tomatoes). On the other hand, if you live somewhere with less light or where temperatures are cooler, you’ll need to get more creative with your watering strategy because if the plants don’t get enough water, they won’t do well.
As I mentioned earlier, potatoes like dry soil and tomatoes require lots of moisture! So I would suggest getting two containers, one for your potato plant and another for everything else. This way, you’ll be able to tell which ones are thriving and which aren’t because if they don’t get enough water, then they will die.