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flower pots

Deck Gardening

Benjamin Kilbride, Editorial Assistant at The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Make the most of your deck by filling it with a garden of vegetables grown in containers!

What Is Deck Gardening?

Deck gardening is growing vegetables and ornamentals in planters and containers on your deck. The practice can be customized to fit your needs—it can be large-scale with a sea of containers, or it can be just a couple of planters. Either way, deck gardens are easy to manage because they are right on your doorstep.

In areas that experience freezing temperatures during winter, pots should be brought inside before frost to stay warm, while in areas that experience warm winters, they can be left outside during the day and brought inside at night.

How to Build Trough Planters

You Will Need . . .

5-gallon bucket (with lid)

40-inch length of PVC pipe (3-inch diameter)

epoxy glue

2 old 18x13-inch baking sheets (optional)

tools (as needed): skill saw, tin snips or shears, drill, drill bit, tape measure, marker

1. Cut the 5-gallon bucket in half lengthwise: Use the saw to cut through the ridged edge of the bucket, and then switch to using the tin snips. Continue to cut until you reach the ridged edge on the opposite side of the bucket. Finish the cut with the saw. Lastly, use the saw to cut the bucket lid in half and attach the halves to the two half bucket pieces. You should be left with two troughs.

2. Flip the troughs upside down: In the bottom of each, drill about 10 randomly spaced holes.

3. Measure and mark 10-inch lengths on the PVC pipe. Cut the pipe into four 10-inch lengths.

4. Flip one of the troughs right-side up: Take two 10-inch lengths of PVC pipe and place one lengthwise under each curved side of the trough (creating a cradle effect) so that the trough does not rock from side to side and the top is level. Adjust the pipes so that they are centered and then mark their placement on the trough. Flip the trough: Follow the directions on the epoxy label to glue both of the 10-inch lengths of pipe to the marked spots on the trough. Repeat step 4 for the other trough.

5. Once the glue has set, the planters are ready for action! Fill the troughs with potting soil and plant your favorite vegetables. If you bring your planters in for the winter, place the baking sheets under each trough to catch any excess water.

Winter Crops and Grow Lights

Plant kale, lettuce, and Swiss chard in the planters for great winter crops. When the danger of frost arrives, carry the planters inside. To supplement the waning light of fall and winter, hang fluorescent or low-energy LED grow lights suspended 3 to 4 inches above the plants. Make sure that the bulbs are not a kind that will heat up over time (such as incandescent), which will dry out or even burn the tender greens. Set a regular cycle by turning on the lights in the morning when you wake up and turning them off when you have dinner: Plants grow better with a consistent day and night schedule. After a month of growing indoors, begin feeding the leafy greens a liquid fertilizer (follow directions on label for amount and frequency). Harvest regularly and enjoy fresh salads all winter long!

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