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Deck to Table Dining — How to Grow an Edible Garden on Your TruNorth Deck

Have you ever considered growing an edible garden on your deck? Growing edible plants, from fruits to herbs and vegetables, will add height and colour to your deck while also providing a harvest of fresh ingredients to incorporate into your al fresco meals.

While it may seem daunting, growing an edible garden on your deck is relatively easy and there are plants for all gardening abilities and types of outdoor space. To discover how to grow an edible garden and how to craft some DIY composite or PVC deck planters, keep reading for our in-depth guide.

What Edible Garden Plants Can You Grow?

Before explaining how to grow an edible garden on your deck, let’s cover some of the edible plants you’ll be able to grow. What you choose to grow will depend on your preferences, amount of space, gardening skill level, and available time because some edible garden plants take more time and knowledge to grow successfully than others.

1. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are another excellent edible garden plant to grow. They are also very nutritious and easy to grow in containers, so they work for spaces of most sizes. Do note that you may need to take extra steps to protect these edible garden plants from insects, such as slugs and snails. 

Some popular leafy green options include:

  • Lettuce (various varieties like romaine, butterhead, and leaf lettuce)
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Swiss chard

2. Microgreens

Microgreens are the young seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs. These are a great edible garden plant to grow on your deck, no matter how big, and are packed with nutrients.

Common microgreens to grow include:

  • Radish
  • Cress
  • Kohlrabi microgreens

3. Herbs

Herbs are some of the most common edible garden plants to grow and are perfect for small spaces and those new to gardening. They’re ideal for container growing and just a small amount can add a lot of flavour to your meals. You could even add herbs like mint and basil to summer cocktails that you enjoy on your deck.

Common herbs to grow outdoors include:

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Chives
Four pots with different herbs in them

4. Vegetables

When you think of edible garden plants, most will think of growing vegetables. Luckily, growing vegetables on your deck is relatively easy. Many vegetables thrive in containers and can provide you with a bountiful harvest.

Some popular vegetable choices include:

  • Tomatoes (dwarf or cherry varieties are well-suited for containers)
  • Peppers (bell peppers, chili peppers, etc.)
  • Radishes
  • Carrots (choose shorter varieties if growing in pots)
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini or summer squash (choose compact varieties)

5. Fruits

You don’t need an abundance of fruit trees to enjoy fresh fruit from your garden. Many fruiting plants that do well in containers and can be grown on your deck.

Fruits that are ideal for deck growing include: 

  • Strawberries (hanging baskets work well, as do containers)
  • Blueberries (choose dwarf varieties)
  • Dwarf apple or pear trees (choose varieties grafted onto dwarf rootstocks)
  • Dwarf citrus trees (lemons, limes, oranges)
  • Olives (small olive trees can grow well in pots in warmer climates)

6. Edible Flowers

Edible flowers are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when deciding which edible garden plants to grow on your deck. However, edible flowers can add colour to your outdoor space, plus extra flavour and vibrancy to your dishes.

Some edible flowers to consider growing include: 

  • Nasturtiums
  • Calendula
  • Pansies
  • Squash blossoms 
  • Violas
  • Rose petals (make sure they’re pesticide-free)

When choosing which edible garden plants to grow, keep the climate of your area in mind, including how much rain and sunlight the plants will receive. Certain plants also require more care, so consider your level of gardening experience when selecting edible garden plants for your deck.

There are many plants to add to an edible garden on your deck

How To Grow an Edible Garden on Your Deck

As you can see, there are many edible plants that can be grown on your deck to add colour to your garden and flavour to your cooking. If you want to take advantage of your outdoor space to grow fresh produce, the step-by-step guide below will help make growing an edible garden on your deck easy.

1. Assess Your Space

The first step in growing an edible garden on your deck is to consider how much available space you have. Look at your full deck space and decide how much you want to put aside for planters. You’ll also want to look at which areas get effective sunlight, shade, and protection from the elements. Once you have a good idea of how much space you have for edible garden plants, you’ll be able to decide which type to grow and how.

A deck with a dining table, grill and flower pots

2. Choose Growing Containers

Once you’ve determined what you’d like to grow and how much of it, you can select the best growing containers. This can include pots and planters, including those you make from leftover decking, plus more unique growing containers, such as crates. 

Don’t forget about hanging baskets, either as well as wall planters and those that can be attached to pergolas. These types of growing containers are especially well suited to herbs, microgreens, and leafy greens. No matter what containers you choose, ensure they have appropriate water drainage to prevent waterlogging. 

3. Select and Purchase Edible Garden Plants

When choosing which edible garden plants to grow, you’ll need to consider your available space, along with the climate in your area and your level of gardening expertise. Novice gardeners and those with small spaces should consider herbs and microgreens. 

More advanced gardeners can opt for vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and radishes that thrive in containers. If you have a bit more space, you can add vegetables that need deeper containers with more soil, such as carrots and potatoes. Those with gardening experience may also want to add some fruits like small lemon trees.

Once you’ve selected your edible garden plant varieties, you’ll need to decide whether to buy seeds or get plants that have already begun to grow from seeds. Keep in mind that if you grow from seeds, you’ll need to purchase the seeds a few months earlier than plants. Check growing calendars to see when to begin growing the edible garden plants you’ve chosen.

A tomato plant in a pot

4. Select Soil and Fertilizer

The soil and fertilizer you use are highly important to the success of an edible garden on your deck. Opting for a high-quality potting mix that is formulated for container growing is optimal. Interestingly, general garden soil can be too dense for containers and doesn’t drain well, meaning it should be avoided if possible. 

If you compost at home, the soil from this process can work well in containers and it includes added nutrients that aren’t always found in store-bought soil. Adding a fertilizer, ideally one created for use with fruit and vegetable plants, will also help to promote healthy growth.

5. Find the Optimal Placement

Now that you’ve decided what to grow and in what type of container and soil, you need to find the best place to put the edible plant containers on your deck. The most important thing to think about is how much sunlight the plants will receive. 

Most edible plants need a lot of sunlight, ideally at least six to eight hours per day. If your deck doesn’t receive that much sunlight, you could consider using grow lights or choose plants that require the least possible sunlight. If you have the space, you could also consider using a mini greenhouse to optimize any sunlight the deck receives.

A deck with chairs and flower pots

6. Stay On Top of Watering

Watering the edible garden on your deck is crucial as most edible garden plants require frequent watering to thrive. It’s important to check soil moisture level frequently. If the topsoil feels dry, water the plants. 

While watering is highly important, be careful to not overwater the plants. Overwater can result in root rot and waterlogged soil both of which can cause the plants to die or not thrive as they should. As mentioned, also ensure the planters you’re using have effective drainage to reduce the chance of waterlogging occurring. If possible, water early in the morning or after sunset to minimize evaporation.

7. Follow a Maintenance Schedule

Along with watering, you’ll want to set up a general maintenance schedule for your edible garden. Keep an eye out for pests and disease, addressing issues as soon as possible if they occur. Using bug nets or gravel on top of the plant’s soil can help prevent insects from getting onto the plants. You’ll also want to prune plants frequently, especially herbs and leafy greens. Additionally, remove dead or yellowing leaves as they occur to promote healthy growth.

8. Harvest and Enjoy!

If you’ve followed the above steps, the edible garden on your deck will be healthy and will grow fresh produce that’s ready for harvesting and adding to dishes. Know the signs of ripeness for each type of edible garden plant you have and harvest once ready. For herbs and leafy greens, harvest the outer layers, allowing the inner ones to continue growing. 

Once the weather changes and begins to get colder, consider bringing some plants, such as herbs, inside for the season. Others can be left outside until next year, such as lemon or olive trees and strawberry plants, while other edible plants will need to be replanted from scratch next year.

How To Build DIY Planters for Your Deck

There are many types of planters that you can use when growing an edible garden on your deck. One of the unique options to try is planters made from composite or PVC decking. If you happen to have some leftover decking from your deck build, turning it into planters is an excellent way to use it. 

These functional and durable planters can be made in the same colours as your deck, for a seamless look. Alternatively, opt for complementing or even contrasting colours for a more unique appearance.

The following are some easy-to-follow steps on how to use composite or PVC decking to build DIY planters for your deck.

A deck with planter boxes and a table surrounded by trees

Materials Needed for DIY Deck Planters

  1. Composite or PVC deck boards
  2. Screws or decking screws
  3. Saw (miter saw or circular saw)
  4. Drill with drill bits
  5. Measuring tape
  6. Pencil

1. Plan Your Design

Planning the size and shape of your planters before you begin is crucial. When choosing a size and shape, keep in mind the space available on your deck for planters and the design of planters needed for what you intend to grow. Rectangular or square planters are common choices in terms of shape, but you can get creative with different shapes.

2. Prepare the Decking Boards

Having decided on the size of your composite or PVC decking planters, get your decking boards and measure and mark the boards according to the dimensions you have chosen. Once you’ve added the dimensions in pencil or another marker, cut the boards to size. Ensure all your deck boards are cut to the correct size so that they work with your dimensions and design. Having a few extra deck boards, if possible, is always a good idea. 

3. Assemble the Planter  

Having prepared the decking, you’ll need to cut the boards on a flat surface and form the sides of the planter box. Use screws to attach the boards together at the corners, ensuring that they are properly lined up. Next, add a bottom support made with the remaining decking boards. Secure the bottom boards to the sides of the planter box using screws that have been spaced evenly apart.

Add Drainage Holes 

When making planters of any kind for edible garden plants, adding drainage holes is crucial. These drainage holes will prevent waterlogging of the soil and can be simply drilled into the bottom of the planter. Ensure that they are placed evenly across the base.

4. Place the Planter on Your Deck

Once built, add your planters where desired and begin the steps for growing an edible garden on your deck. This includes adding the right kind of soil and the plants or seeds you have chosen. Ensure that the planters are level and stable and that they are draining well when you water the plants. You may want to add a tray under the planter as well to collect water that drains instead of letting it pool on the deck surface.

5. Planter Maintenance

After adding your plants, check the DIY deck planters frequently for signs of wear and tear. Also, ensure they are draining well, and that soil isn’t becoming waterlogged. You may additionally want to clean the outside of the planter to keep it looking like new. As with a PVC or composite deck, you can simply use warm water and soap.

Edible plants in box planters

In Conclusion

Growing an edible garden on your deck is an excellent way to add colour to your yard while also having access to fresh produce. Conveniently, growing an edible garden on your deck doesn’t need to take much time and effort and there are options for all gardening abilities and sizes of outdoor spaces. You can even update leftover composite or PVC deck boards into planters for growing all types of fruits and vegetables.

This guide should have provided all the information you need to get started on growing an edible garden on your deck. If you’re also looking to update your outdoor space with a new PVC or composite deck, explore our Clubhouse PVC and TruNorth Composite Deck ranges, that are guaranteed to have something to match your design needs and budget.