On-deck vegetable garden, the update



In my second year of growing food, I can now recognize a few plants (big thrill there), I'm growing only container-sized varieties of plants, and I've added a few more containers.  Also, this time I'm just growing my favorites.  That means no more peppers or zucchinis, though they performed splendidly in their maiden year.

Above from left to right are the herbs I really eat, mainly basils and mints, cucumbers being trained to grow up the privacy screen, and two large planters of patio tomatoes.  Below are the cantaloupe, eggplant and watermelon.  Earlier in the season there were sugar snap peas and assorted lettuces.

How to Thin for Maximum YieldIMG_9194-2
Here's what I'd like to know.  See the square brown container on the right?  It holds two eggplant plants and I wonder: Would the yield be greater with just one in that container?  Same question regarding the two cucumber plants I have growing in a similar container. In order words, am I thinning seedlings the right amount, or not enough?



  1. About 99% of the time I design children’s veggie gardens on the deck/patio.

    Easy to maintain & a front row seat for their lifestyle.

    Hard to thin? Yes, but at least there is the compost.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. Hey Susan, nice looking container garden.

    You may have noticed that many landscape shrubs purchased from a nursery are actually two or three or four cuttings stuck in the same pot. Growers do this because the pot fills out faster that way.

    The two eggplants will probably be fine together if they have enough available nutrients, water and light.

    Using a thin layer of mulch (can’t tell from the pics if they have mulch) will keep the potting soil more evenly moist and reduce the time you spend watering and reduce their competition for water.

    And if the potting soil is stoked with organic fertilizer the two plants won’t be competing with each other for nutrients.

    And they will probably grow away from each other to get enough light.

    So you’ll still probably get a good crop with two plants in that pot, but if one of the two looks skimpier than the other, I would cut it’s stem below ground level and let the beefier one have its way without disturbing the roots.

    Hope that’s helpful.


  3. The rules of intensive planting are to put plants spaced 60% to 75% the distance recommended on the seed packet. This approach creates smaller fruit, but more smaller fruits produces more pounds of food per square feet. Plants any closer than 60% of the recommended distance are competing with each to the detriment of total production. I’d go for one glorious eggplant.

  4. I wonder if you keep the 2 eggplants if you’ll notice that they don’t fruit in the middle, in between the 2 plants, where they compete for space (less sunlight).
    Please let us know what you do and how it turns out!

  5. Are these made from recycled materials? If not, they should be; we need to cut demand for oil, not pump it up with new-from-oil products. The supplier’s website doesn’t mention if they are recycled or not.

  6. I had a couple eggplants growing against each other (listada de giandia) and didn’t notice it for the longest time, last summer. I’d planted a seedling and not noticed that another was popping out of the jiffy pellet. Anyway, when the plant(s) started developing blooms and fruit, I noticed – and it was too late to move one out of that spot without harming the other. The soil was horrid quality in that spot, but the pair produced a heck of a lot of fruit. I am chalking that up to late season side dressing with straw from my chicken run, tons of heat and sun, and ample water.

  7. Yield can be judged on the quantity of fruit per plant, pounds of fruit per plant, or similar metrics per square foot (acreage), and the answer to your questions may depend on how you want to measure. I tend to judge on quantity of fruit per square foot, not weight, or per plant.

    As to how close each plant should be, it depends on the cultivar being planted. Those bred for containers (short space between the internodes)can do very well in small spaces, or be more crowded in a larger pot.

    Folks interested in container vegetable gardening in the Baltimore/DC/York/Lancaster area can attend the Penn State “Summer Garden Experience” at the SE Region Research Center in Landisville, PA (outside Lancaster) on Saturday, July 31st. Here is a brochure on the event:


    Dr. Lee Reich (Farmdener, not Permaculturist) is the keynote speaker.

  8. Because we are not fenced and deer, bunnies, gophers, and other assorted critters roam freely on our property, we are also planning to grow veggies on the deck in containers.

    I’m thinking about using those long metal troughs you can buy in the feed store – the owner told us people do use them for growing plants in – and then I saw them in a garden featured in Fine Gardening, so I know it can be done.

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