A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: 8 Easy Plants YOU Can Grow on Any Sized Deck or Patio

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17 July 2013

8 Easy Plants YOU Can Grow on Any Sized Deck or Patio

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SO yesterday, I got you all fired up (hopefully!) about adding a little bit of LIFE to your porch.  
A little bit of COLOR, a few POLKA DOTS, some lines and some LIFE!  yes?

Ready for a little more help picking the plants?  Well, you are in luck because TODAY we are going 
to talk about some of the EASIEST and CHEAPEST plants to beef up your porchside garden.

1. BEETS: Ok, so beets might not be the first thing you think of when thinking about an easy potted plant, but I have to tell you that they are one of my FAVORITE plants for adding some cheap (and nutritious!) bulk to my porch pots.  The thing is -- when you grow this many beets in a pot, you are NOT growing them for the beets.  You are growing them for the GREENS and for the colors.  I use the greens in my dinosaur smoothies in combination with some spinach and keep cutting them ALL summer long.  Grab a $1 pack of seeds, sprinkle them THICK (about half the pack for a large pot) and water for a few days.  After that, just keep cutting and you will have pretty beet green leaves growing thick and lush all summer long.  They are perfect for adding a little red complement to flowering red plants like canna or begonia.

2.  SEDUM: I have gone on and on and on about sedum before.  In fact, if you read the Nest often, you are probably sick of hearing about it, but I have to tell you once again; if you are a beginner -- sedum is the plant for you!  Simply stick a stem in the ground and IT WILL GROW.  You don't need to water, you don't need to fertilize.  Just enjoy an easy, free plant that adds a little green to your porch pots!  (note: Sedum is not edible, so don't plant it to closely to edible plants you will be harvesting)  Want to hear me rave on and on about sedum?  Check out these archived posts HERE and HERE on Philly.com.

3.  GLADS: So far, I've given you n easy plant from seed and an easy plant from cuttings, so now I have no choice but to let you in on my secret "bulb" plant of summer.  I put bulb in quotes because glads actually grow from corms, but most beginning gardeners will recognize the idea of a "bulb" and be scared to death of a "corm".  Don't be.  They basically work the same way!  Buy a cheap bag of glads in spring and plant them deeply in a large WINTER COMPOST POT (click that link to see my "system").  Make sure the little roots and "babies" (they look like little bumps on the bottom of the corm) are on the BOTTOM when you plant.  A few months later, you will have BEAUTIFUL delightful blooms on tall, majestic stems!

4. DAHLIA:  Dahlias are another easy to grow plant that grow from a "bulb-like thing" called a tuber.  Again, you simply place them into the potted soil, cover them up and wait.  They will delight you with big beautiful blooms come mid-summer!  This is one pot where you DO want to feed them a little extra compost because the more they are fed, the better the blooms are.  However, they are NOT super picky, so grab a cheap pack and try them out.  You might find a new best friend :)

5. POTATOES: In the pot of glads and dahlias, you will also notice potatoes.  Potatoes are one of the easiest edibles to grow (in my humble opinion).  I don't even buy them anymore.  I simply cut off the ends of potatoes we are going to eat, throw them all in a hole in the ground or a half filled compost pot and AT LEAST 50-70% of them will grow and produce new potatoes.  Learn more about how I grow potatoes HERE and HERE.  The green tops grow fairly quickly and fairly tall, filling in blank spots on the porch quite nicely!

6. LETTUCE: The easiest way to fill a big, empty pot with a beautiful, frilly, downright beautiful mass of plants is to buy a pack of mesclun. Mesclun is simply a mix of "fancy" lettuces" and grows very easily.  Simply sprinkle the seed on the surface of the soil (don't bury it!) and water it in.  Keep the seeds moist until they sprout and keep the lettuce in a fairly shady spot or else it will bolt and won't be beautiful anymore.  We ALWAYS keep a pot or two of mesclun, even if we never get around to eating it.  It is THAT cheap and THAT pretty.
7. IRIS: Iris is TOUGH. AS. NAILS. and can handle almost any abuse.  Simply plant the roots in any pot and stay out of the way!  Those blade-like leaves add height and contrast to the rest of your filler and fluffy plants and you will get a pretty bloom in spring to boot!  Iris will overwinter outdoors in a pot OR indoors.  TOUGH. AS. NAILS. Learn more about my love affair with Iris HERE on Houzz.

8. MINT, LEMON BALM and MORE!    Yesterday, I mentioned mint baskets in passing as a way to draw the eye UP on a patio or deck, but I didn't truly wax poetic about the benefits of a "bully" plant like mint.  Many people despise such plants because they have a tendency to take over nicely tended "sweet" gardens, but I love them for those very qualities.  I have yet to meet a member of the mint family I did NOT love.  In fact, the family is quite large and quite a few of my favorite plants derive from it (HELLO Lemon Balm!)  The trick is simply to plant them where they will be useful and not a bully.  In other words, a hanging basket or window box that doesn't get watered *quite* often enough is the perfect place for a plant that never dies.  Plant it next to delicate plants and you might as well go ahead and say goodbye.  They won't survive! 
Click the title links below to read more about my love affair with the mint family! 

So again -- NO EXCUSES -- YOU can do this!
Let's get planting and brighten up that porch or patio!

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