If you don't have much space, you can still grow fresh vegetables on your balcony, patio or deck. Choose vegetables that have been bred to grow in containers. Alan Buckingham, the author of "Grow Vegetables: Gardens, Yards, Balconies, Roof Terraces" suggests growing vegetables vertically. Cucumbers and pole beans will grow to more than 6 feet. Plant them with a bushy vegetable, like zucchini or hot peppers. Make the most of the space you do have. Use hanging planters to grow tomatoes that will trail over the edges.
Select plants that have the same lighting requirements to be in the same pot. Most fruiting vegetables, like eggplant, squash, tomatoes and peppers, require up to eight hours a day of sun. Leafy greens or lettuces need fewer hours of sunlight.
Place the pots on feet especially made to get the bottom of the pot off the ground or decking surface. Then, place the pot with their feet in saucers to catch the water that drains. Some soils will tint the water, which then can discolor your deck, balcony or patio. Larger pots are better than smaller pots. The soil in a large pot stays cooler and moister than in a small pot. This is important during hot summer days.
Use fresh potting soil. Place a paper towel or sheet of newspaper in the bottom of the pot to cover the drainage holes. The paper will allow the excess water to drain out but keep the soil in the pot. Add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil, according to the package directions, and mix thoroughly. You can also use a potting soil that has the fertilizer already in it. Fill the pot to within 2 inches of the lip.
Place the vegetable plants in the pot. Cover the root ball completely with potting soil. A 24-inch pot can accommodate three plants. Add some herbs like basil and oregano and you have the makings of an Italian feast. Tomatoes, green peppers and eggplant grow best in pots when transplanted as seedlings rather than from seed.
Plant seeds for green beans, pole beans, peas and squash, which grow easily and quickly from seed. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart for the beans and peas. Plant three squash seeds in a pot. Thin to the strongest seedlings, once they sprout. Broadcast lettuce seeds over the surface of the pot. Cover lightly with 1/4 inch of soil.
Water until the soil is saturated. If you've planted seeds, cover the surface of the pot with clear plastic wrap. It traps the moisture and increases the temperature of the soil so the seeds germinate faster.