5 Patio Gardens

Gentleman Farmer Vegetable Garden
Green tomatoes: grow 'em, fry 'em and eat 'em up. Yum!
Green tomatoes: grow 'em, fry 'em and eat 'em up. Yum!

If you look forward to homegrown tomatoes and other garden produce every summer, you're in good company. In 2009, the National Gardening Association reported that around 43 million households in the United States planned to create edible gardening projects over the summer season. The numbers may be surprising, but the concept isn't. Lean economic times help make the idea of sprouting dinner in your backyard an attractive prospect. Even if you aren't watching your pennies, it doesn't take much research to realize that you can grow many more vegetable varieties in your garden (or patio) than you can find in the market.

If you've grown your share of tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, you probably don't need much encouragement from us to start a vegetable garden, but we do have a couple of fun variations that'll work on your patio just fine. Pulling potatoes out of a bag, box or barrel is one of the latest ways to grow your spuds. If you haven't tried it, potato farming on a patio can be so easy it'll make you love carbs again. There are kits and do-it-yourself instructions for growing potatoes in everything from a mesh enclosure to a stack of old tires. Let your budget and sense of style be your guide.

Another patio option is straw bale gardening. This may not be the best choice if you have a designer patio worthy of Architectural Digest, but if you want to start an edible garden and all you have on hand is concrete and plenty of it, try planting vegetables into a seasoned bale of straw or hay set directly onto your patio. It will save you the cost of dozens of plant pots, and you can dispose of the bale at the end of the season. Because straw bale gardening is becoming more popular every year, you'll probably be able to find fresh bales at your garden center in April or May.