When you run out of space in the garden or if you don’t have enough ground to garden, think containers.
I use containers here and there throughout the garden and typically fill them with annuals that offer a lot of visual punch. This year, I will do the same with a twist — I’ve decided to use mostly vegetables and herbs.
Beauty still counts. I’m after color, cascading blooms and more space for edibles. That’s why I will once again plant the large edible garden, as I did last year, and create containers mixing food and ornamental plants.
If you don’t have enough property to start a vegetable garden in the ground, you may have a deck, patio, rooftop or space for window boxes, containers and hanging baskets. There are some edibles that will happily flourish under such conditions and provide the gardener with fresh produce, tasty herbs or juicy fruits. Granted, they’re not in the same quantity as if they were grown in the ground but enough to have some nutritious tasty treats, clippings for salads and herbs to liven up meals.
The trick with containers is using pots with enough size, starting with a good potting mix from the garden center, watering and fertilizing reliably, choosing containers with drainage holes and carefully considering location. Most vegetables and fruits need full sun. Be aware that a clay pot sitting in full sun on a concrete patio will need a dedicated gardener to keep up with its watering needs.
A few of my containers will be exposed to full sun all day on a patio. For those, I will opt for containers with a built-in water reserve. This will lessen the number of times I need to water. From experience, I know that during the heat of summer, even these will need to be replenished morning and night on extremely hot days.
You could also use a irrigation system with a timer attached that is designed especially for containers. Then you wouldn’t need to be concerned about providing enough water. And you could choose plastic containers, which retain moisture more readily than clay pots.
Generally speaking, look for containers that hold three to five gallons of soil for larger vegetables. You can also plant smaller size fruits, such as strawberries. And hang cherry tomatoes from a basket rather than grow space-demanding beefsteaks. In a patio pot, you could grow mini carrots, radishes and other diminutive veggies.
What do you like?
Deciding what to plant is easy. What do you like to eat? Salad, tomatoes, basil? All three?
At this time of year, you can start with seeds for the lettuce and basil, but for practical reasons, tomatoes and peppers are better bought as transplants from the garden center or a farmers market in the coming weeks. Next year, you can start seeds indoors in early April, if you want.
Next week, I will share what I am growing in each container and how they will be planted for maximum pleasure and produce.
If you are looking for plants, students at the State University of New York College at Cobleskill are holding their annual plant sale Saturday and Sunday in the Plant Science building. In the past, the students have done a great job growing heirloom vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees. Don’t be tempted to plant annuals outside yet. It’s is still too early.
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Categories: Life and Arts