I’ve had an email from my daughter who lives near Lisbon, Portugal (and whose garden is a small, sunken patio with planting mainly in containers – see pic)….

garden 007

15th March 2013

Hi!! Just thought I’d drop you a line to let you know I’ve been busy in the garden!
Bought some cheap plants from the little old lady where you bought our cucumber from last year.

So far we have got 4 cucumbers plants, 6 tomatoes (in a newly strengthened cane system),7 pepper plants,a rosemary plant and 12 strawberry plants. Going to the garden centre tomorrow to get some more earth to fill up those new containers you gave me.  Not sure what else we’ll get yet, but maybe a lemon tree to look nice, and some lavender plants to plant among the jasmine and those little bushes. I’ll probably get some herb seeds too.

What would you recommend with the herbs? Plant them in tiny containers first, until there are shoots, and then transfer them over? Any which are sturdier than others?

Also, do the peppers need a similar system to the tomatoes? Will they grow upwards?

The lady also has some brocolli plants, but do they need a lot of space? Would it be worth the work planting them, for only two or three heads? Is it one plant=one head?

What other plants would you recommend planting, either from little plants or seeds? Radishes? Lettuce? Carrots? Chilli peppers?



Glad to hear that you’ve been busy in your little patio garden! You sound like you’ve purchased a lot of plants already – careful you don’t fill your patio so you can’t use it (especially as it doesn’t get sun all round)!

Lavender need lots of sun and sharp drainage- so put in some gravel if/when you plant them

Herbs- all depends on what you go for- as you’ll probably only need a few plants of each type I’d try to sow individual seeds in modular trays rather than do a complete seed tray. You can raise as seedlings in these modules and then when they’re big enough (say they have a few of their second set of leaves) they can be transplanted to their final spot/pot. I’d go for Basil, Coriander, Parsley, Sage, Thyme.

Peppers will grow as bushy plants so you could sow some seeds in modules as above and then put them in a largish individual pot/container (they’ll probably grow to about 1’ high by 1’ across or possibly larger)- they might need some support as they get bigger, this is easily provided by short canes and string to tie in main stem/branches as they need it.

Broccoli- For the space they need I don’t think its worth it in your restricted area. You could grow them like the peppers- they’ll grow as bushy plants (poss about 2’ tall) and may need some support in due course. Depending on the variety (I’m assuming calabrese type rather than purple sprouting brocooli?) you might get one big head and after you cut this off other side heads will develop (smaller but still good)

Other food- again it depends on what space/ containers you have and what are your favourites to eat fresh! As you like salad I’d go for a few lettuces- possibly the ‘cut and come again’ kind rather than the tight head sort- and maybe carrots in a deepish container- these need a fairly sandy, poorish soil, so avoid rich compost if you do as this makes them fork.


Dad X

Old School Gardener