Growing Vegetables In Shallow Deck Planter - Knowledgebase Question

Colorado Springs, CO
Question by EntrekinM
December 23, 1999
I built a small deck planter at the top and bottom of our deck railing. The planters are about 5 inches deep, about 4 inches across and about 16 feet long. I would like to grow vegetables in the planter but I am concerned about root growth since the depth of the dirt is only about 5 inches. Will tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers grow in such shallow soil? Are there other vegetables that might grow better? The bottom planter would even support vines growing on the bannisters.

Answer from NGA
December 23, 1999


Unfortunately, the larger the plant the more root run is needed. In general, a five gallon bucket or even a half whiskey barrel is a better size for a husky tomato plant. Your planters might support some of the smaller leaf lettuces and early greens, radishes and probably a number of different herbs, but I think they are going to dry out too quickly to keep tomatoes and green peppers (and especially those water-loving cukes) happy. You might try a little experimenting with some of the smaller compact varieties intended for patio containers, along with using a waterholding polymer mixed into the potting soil, especially if you don't have an automatic watering system.

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