Gardening novice needs some help!
June 18, 2012 2:53 PM   Subscribe

I have $150 to spend on my patio/deck garden in Seattle. What should I plant and how should I do it?

I recently moved into an apartment with a small (about 10x8) deck. It's wooden and has benches running along two sides - those two sides also have fences (the 8" side has a
wooden fence and the 10" side has chain-link). I've never gardened before, but I'd like to make it a peaceful, green oasis.

My top priority is getting as much greenery for my buck as possible. Some flowers would be nice, as well as some herbs. I would love veggies but it seems like I'm too late and don't have enough space for those.

I'm in Seattle, so summer is just getting started, but I realize I'm too late for seeds (right?). So it seems like buying potted plants makes the most sense, but they're obviously pretty pricey. The deck gets a lot of sun when the sun is actually out. Seattle summers are temperate and sunny, with cool nights.

I'm looking for ideas on what I should do with this space with my budget of $150. Which plants should I buy and what should I do with them? Seeds, starts or full-grown plants?

Links to online resources would be great, as are personal recommendations.
posted by lunasol to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have had excellent luck with chives. Radishes and baby carrots have a relatively short times from when planted so you could probably still get some in. Their tops are very green and bushy so they are nice to look at before harvesting. I've had good luck doing them in large pots (15-20 inch in diameter be careful to not put the whole packet of seeds in one pot or you'll have a lot of thinning to do). Last year I did pretty good with tomatoes and basil plants bought from the store.
posted by HMSSM at 3:05 PM on June 18, 2012

Potato vines grow very quickly, are hardy and come in a variety of shapes/colors. They will fill up space nicely and are quite inexpensive. If you're going to use pots, plant them on the sides and they will spill over to the ground, giving you more plant-to-pot ratio. As for flowers, it's really hard to beat petunias as they come is so many colors, bloom all summer long and are super cheap. Petunias will make any garden space look happy. And for a lovely non-flowering plant, I really enjoy coleus.

I have had terrible luck with herbs outdoors. I find I can more successfully grow those inside with a controlled climate. I'll let someone else with more success guide you there. :)
posted by erstwhile at 3:28 PM on June 18, 2012

Seattle Tilth looks neat- they have classes and a garden help hotline !

You could plant arugula, lettuce, chives, basil even from seeds I think and you would have good results in just a few weeks (those plants grow fast if properly watered). They also don't need any deep soil and work well in pots. But those are fairly small plants so I am not sure if that meets your needs for a green oasis.

The Swansons nursery looks good as well, maybe take a trip there and see what you like?
posted by travelwithcats at 3:44 PM on June 18, 2012

Best answer: I have a similar deck up here on nearby Vancouver Island and our climates are quite similar.
Three emerald cedars in large pots provide year-round greenery and a good screen. They're very hardy, able to handle below freezing temperatures, long periods of rain and summer heat.
Snow peas vines grow very quickly from seed and many other veggies or herbs can be bought as small starters so you're certainly not too late. Strawberries do well here and if you want to attract hummingbirds plant some salvia.
Nasturtiums grow like crazy and the flowers taste great in salads.
I've had good luck with cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers too.
posted by islander at 4:25 PM on June 18, 2012

Oh, and there's lots of great Pacific Northwest gardening advice here"
posted by islander at 4:30 PM on June 18, 2012

Frost date chart says that the growing season in Seattle is from 3/10 to 11/17, and even longer if you are near Puget Sound. You can grow pretty much anything in five months.

You could probably have gourds/pumpkins from seed on the chain link fence - they have large leaves on stout vines and get very jungle-y very fast as long as you water them often. Use loops of pantyhose to tie them loosely to the fence as they grow. One or two will cover 10 feet of fence in 8-10 weeks after they sprout. These are better than other decorative vines because they are easy to remove at the end of the season. They have beautiful if short-lived blooms, too.

For evergreens, you could try gardenias, but they tend to be pricey.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:36 PM on June 18, 2012

Just to put in another plug for Seattle Tilth-it's a very well run organization and they love to be helpful for this kind of question.
posted by Kwine at 7:49 PM on June 18, 2012

Wave Petunias will provide a lot of color, are not expensive, and are available at home improvements centers and nurseries.
posted by lstanley at 6:34 AM on June 19, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the plant ideas and local resources. I had no idea Tilth offered classes! I'm going to head over to Swanson's this weekend.
posted by lunasol at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2012

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