Saturday 25 May 2013

Patio Growing 2013

The delay in obtaining a Building Permit and hence building the house (see previous post) means we have  had to renew the lease on our rented apartment for another year. I have therefore been thinking how best to utilise the growing possibilities of the recycled container garden I built up over last year.

Start of 2013 Patio Herb Garden
In reviewing last year's experimental production I concluded that it is not feasible to grow our "main crops" (i.e. courgettes, aubergines, sweet peppers, tomatoes) on the scale we need in the space available. In addition the local market consistently has a really excellent range of locally produced high quality vegetables at good prices with the money going directly to the producers. We therefore take in this market on our weekly shopping, banking, postal and catching up on the internet adventure. The latter at a cafe overlooking the harbour, listening to the water lap over the slipway, whilst we enjoy a greek coffee and contemplate what a tough life this is!!

Raising coriander seedlings
As a result I decided that I would concentrate on using the patio container garden to grow herbs, salad crops, with a mini belle tomato or two, a couple of tumbler tomato bushes and scallop shaped squashes and of course chilli peppers since these had proved so successful in the heat last year. As well as the usual salad crops rocket, radish, chives I decided to try purslane because it grows wild in Crete and is native to the island. On the herb front in addition to the previously successful thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, rosemary, coriander, mint and of course basil I would try lemon balm and parsley.

I would also use the patio to raise seedlings for "main crop" planting out on the plot in addition to a few locally grown seedling varieties also available at the market. Here I have been mulling over whether to try a "square foot garden" (1) approach as a way of maximising yield from the space I manage to keep sheep and goat proof!!

Stacked pot herb towers to reduce footprint
In considering space I became aware with last year's patio container growing that I was rather taking over what is a multi use space (drying washing, eating out, quiet area for contemplation, reading, blogging etc) with my growing activities. The main culprits here of course were the courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes and sweet peppers. Moving experiments for these varieties solely to the plot will thus free up space on the patio. Even so, having sweated to find and fill my now large collection of recycled containers I was reluctant to discard any but still needed to reduce their footprint on the patio. My solution has been to use the variety of container sizes to create a several herb towers with containers of reducing diameter being placed on top of each other in mini towers. I did contemplate trying to create classic herb spirals to increase edge etc but could not create something as permanent in our rented property.

Local variety of basil

I wanted to use these towers to grow on some of the seedlings I raised last year plus a few key herbs from a delightful guy at the local market who had raised some very healthy seedlings and gone to the market selling just the few he had raised and some I would sow directly into the concentric tubs. I did however follow the general guidelines for the herb spiral of planting the most drought resistant herbs at the top with the most water dependent and shade loving at the bottom. In addition to saving footprint space the extra height has added an exciting new dimension to the patio.

(1) Starting a Square Foot Garden