8 Fruits & Vegetables You Can Grow in Hanging Baskets
Vertical gardening has seen a rise in popularity over the past few years as urban gardeners with small yards make the most of porches, walls, fences and trellises in their efforts to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Even people with abundant garden space often grow food crops in hanging baskets for the visual effect. Many fruits, vegetables, and herbs are beautiful and, when suspended, they can add visual texture and dimension to outdoor spaces.
Plus, by moving portions of your edible garden up, you free up space in raised beds and earthbound containers for more produce. Leave tall, sprawling, or heavy fruits and vegetables such as corn, squash, and watermelons, respectively, in your garden, but move the cherry tomatoes and strawberries up where you can see them every time you come in or out of your house. This way, you won’t even have to put shoes on if you need to grab a couple of tomatoes to throw in the salad. Just pop out to your porch and pick what you need. Of course, not every food crop is well suited to life in a hanging basket. It’s important to choose the right crops and to keep them well watered and fertilized if you want them to stay green and productive throughout the summer.
There are several guidelines you can follow when deciding which fruits and vegetables to plant. Look for plants that stay relatively small and, when possible, opt for dwarf or bush varieties. Vining crops are often a good choice, but the fruits must be light enough for the vines to hold without breaking. For example, winter squash and melons produce fruit that is too heavy for the vines to hold and even too heavy for most baskets. Being careful not to overcrowd your pot, try planting combinations of fruits and vegetables, like swiss chard and peas together or spinach and strawberries. This will create a nice visual effect. Do not try this with heavy feeders like tomatoes and peppers, though. These should be confined to their own containers.
Set yourself up for success by first choosing the right basket. Make sure you choose a sturdy basket that hands from a chain and not from a plastic hook; in addition to the growing plants themselves, the basket will need to be strong enough to support the weight of soil and water as well. It also needs to be an appropriate size for whatever you are trying to grow. If you skimp on depth, the roots will have nowhere to go. If you’re growing heavy, full-sized plants, you’ll need a deep pot to handle their extensive root systems. Use a five-gallon bucket with drainage holes drilled into the bottom and sides. Fill it with potting soil and use a chain to suspend it.
Container gardening up in the air is pretty similar to container gardening on the ground. Once you have chosen your crop and receptacle, prepare the container as you would if you were planting flowers on your back deck. Fill it with a good potting mix and periodically apply fish emulsion or a slow-release fertilizer. Plants in containers quickly deplete the nutrients within the container. They also dry out quickly in hot weather, so be sure to water every day.
Now that you know how to proceed, it’s time to pick your crops. Check out page 2 for all 8 food crops that will thrive in a hanging basket.