Urban Edibles for Rooftop Gardens
Updated: Jul 23
Even city gardeners are hungry for the taste of homegrown fruits, veggies and herbs. Thankfully anyone can have pick-able produce at their fingertips, even if all they have is a rooftop space, a balcony, a small backyard plot or a patio.
Choose plants with compact forms and avoid anything that forms extensive vining stems or oversized fruits. For a skyline garden also look for smaller-leaved plants and ones that are slow to bolt, to preempt the windy, hot conditions found up-top. One easy solution for urban (and also suburban) spaces is to grow edibles in pots, and the selection of vegetables now offered in "patio" or dwarf versions designed for containers is growing every year.
Shallow-rooted edibles like lettuce, radishes, peppers, herbs and cabbage only need a container about 8 inches deep. Veggies that need a bit more room (beets, carrots, onions, bush beans, eggplants) can still be perfectly at home in a 5-gallon container. Fruit trees can be grown in pots at least 3 feet deep, but make sure the containers are substantial enough to stay upright in a stiff wind. Strawberries and some vegetables like small-fruited patio tomatoes can even be grown in hanging baskets. If you have a perfect place for a green wall, try a mix of lettuces or herbs. Another option for rooftop and patio gardens is planting edibles in hanging baskets.
Strawberries: Try the heirloom alpine strawberry 'Mignonette', which has smaller and fewer fruits, but with twice the flavor as standard varieties.
Peppers: Most pepper plants are the ideal size for gardens with limited space, and they love heat.
Herbs, Basil, etc. Greens, Bush Baby Acorn squash, Tomatoes Patio variety is a smaller plant. Fruit trees, come in a variety of dwarf and semi-dwarf citrus, loves heat, 'Honeycrisp' apple, is quick to bear fruit, ripens early (September in Zone 6), and tops out at 8 to 10 feet. Lots to enjoy in a roof top garden, look for heat tolerant, smaller varieties.