Spring time brings flowers and sprouts for the gardener, but it also brings bugs and animals that tend to get worse in the summer months. Then there are the mosquitoes attacking the gardener trying to save their fruit and vegetable garden from these invaders. Outside can become quite hostile and this is why people are investing more and more into enclosing their patios, creating a screened in porch, or adding a sunroom to their home with even more comfortability. Having this enclosed space with lots of windows either way you have it, keeps the mosquitoes away from you while you relax in this extra living space AND creates a closed environment perfect for growing food without the bugs or animal hassle all growing season.
I have an enclosed patio with windows all around that I can open and close as well as screens in them. I have begun preparing my enclosed patio for the food growing season as well as my personal relaxing space for reading, tea time, or just a beautiful place for inspiration. I will share my enclosed patio garden preparation set up and may it inspire you to grow your own food and create a space full of inspiration.
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Know where the sunlight comes into your patio
Patios, porches and sunrooms tend to be more square shaped or rectangle offering three different sides with windows with different amounts of sunlight for each side. Most fruits and vegetables are full sun requires at least six hours of sunlight. Some do better with just at six or a little under and others need more than six. It is also important to think about how the sun will hit your containers. If the container itself is not shaded, it might require additional watering or you need to plan for a that part of the plant to be shaded.
Growing in patios require containers or grow bags. I use both. If you have never used grow bags, you can learn more about grow bags here with their benefits. My enclosed patio has a wall towards the bottom under the windows that will provide shade for my sensitive root plants like my carrots that I will hide the grow bag behind this wall for shade but will have the leaves grow above the window line where they will soak up lots of sunlight.
Observe where the sun rises and sets and where the sun touches your space in the patio. Remember, if you are planning in the winter or early spring, summer sun will shift. This is why I will have my plants growing against the walls. Any plants kept in the middle of the space might only get a couple hours of sunlight during the summer.
I am planning for herbs and and shallow root lettuce such as romaine and arugula to grow against the East facing window. This is where they will get the morning sun and won’t deal with the harsh afternoon sun rays.
The South facing window will be for those vegetables requiring the most sunlight where they will get most of the sun all day long. This side of the patio will be for tomatoes (learn how to grow big and plentiful tomatoes), cucumber, peppers, carrots, garlic, beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage etc.
The North facing window won’t be getting much light so that side of my patio will be saved for other things.
The middle still does get some sunlight so I put more decorative plants here like tulips bulbs for spring, begonias, coleus, ivy, anything that can grow part shade or part sun. You could even put some part sun typical houseplants in this area as long as they are placed inside for the winter if your enclosed space is not temperature controlled as the rest of the house. For more houseplant inspiration, see Indoor Plant Obsessions.
Decide what fruits, vegetables or herbs to grow
Now that you have observed where the sunlight comes in and how long it shines on each side and place of your enclosed patio, you can start planning what to grow and where to put them. I have planned to grow the vegetables that support my gut health since I have a very sensitive gut at the very least in this space.
Deciding what to grow in here will depend on what you want to get out of your garden and the amount of space you have in your enclosed patio. You must know how large a cucumber can grow that will cause shade for other plants. You can still put a trellis against the window for plants like this, you just have to prepare for the plants to grow and take up the sunlight and space.
Since I have a smaller space, I am deciding to grow herbs in the same pot to save space. Cilantro, Parsley, and Basil have similar growing conditions so I will put them in one container together instead of three separate containers. Plants on the top of my cart can water another layer of plants underneath them.
The rack I have is a good size for growing bush beans, cabbage, peas, garlic, carrots, etc. Your smaller plants that can share the space with other smaller plants. I can also grow strawberries on the top of that rack and let the fruit grow downwards.
There are many possibilities here but some plants require different sized pots or grow bags and take up more space as they keep growing.
Set up your growing patio garden supplies
Now that you know what you are going to grow in your enclosed garden space, you need the supplies to support that garden throughout the growing season. Here is a list of general supplies to get you thinking of a growing plan:
- Pots or Grow bags of varying size
- Drip trays or pot saucers
- Garden soil
- Soil amendments
- Garden Rack
- Gardening tools
- Watering can and rainwater storage
The New Health Cycle supports organic gardening for your health. We recommend this organic soil that we have declared as the best with the most organic and fertile nutrients packed in a bag that you can get. A more economical choice would be to mix that soil with other less expensive soils and soil amendments like coconut coir and perlite for added aeration and moisture retention.
If you are in a location where rain is more abundant, collecting rainwater is ideal for gardening. Plants are very sensitive to the chlorine and fluoride we have added to our city water (why you should never water your plants with city water). Rainwater is one way I water my plants free of contaminants. I keep a small rainwater storage container for the next watering inside the patio area for easy access. On weeks of drought, I simply use my own filtered drinking water and water my vegetable garden like I would my houseplants. You are only as healthy as what you give your plants that you eat. Food and water are two of four cancer-causing sources I discuss in this lifetime cancer prevention guide. You are making a step in the right direction at reducing health risks by growing your own food organically and even more so if you water your garden with clean filtered water. I recommend these two water filters I find are the best on the market today.
I have mentioned a fan in this list because it is an enclosed area and soil that is wet needs airflow otherwise that fuzzy white mold may start to grow on the top layer of soil in your garden pots. There is more talk about this fuzzy white mold that is a common problem with container gardening in this article in indoor gardening. Enclosed patio gardening is very similar to houseplant care.
A Garden Rack like the one I am using, functions as a place for my supplies and a place to hold a few sun loving vegetables. If I had more space, I would add a few more racks. Racks are very convenient for many things in the garden such as organizing which we will get into detail in the next section.
Organize the garden space with decorating in mind
An enclosed patio is ideal for setting up a place to relax and enjoy the look of nature without being in it as well as enjoying a place you can decorate with your style and mood you want in this space. The gardening world offers gardening supplies with style allowing you to decorate and grow food in the same place. I personally feel great joy gardening and feel even more joy when I have personalized the space to a place I want spend all day in because of how beautiful it is to me.
Some ideas that offer organization and decor would be to incorporate stylish planters and stylish garden racks. I have added a rug to my space to make the room feel more warm to me. There are many decorative patio rugs that fancy’s your style. I have planned to add some special art to my space in the near future.
The plants themselves can be displayed as natural decor in your space. You can hang a few bush bean plants as if they were hanging flower pots. They do bloom a very pretty flower when it is time.
Pots come in different colors where you can create a color scheme for this space with your favorite colors. Don’t forget, the enclosed patio can function as a multipurpose space. Growing food in it is my favorite purpose.