With the start of summer many of us have gardens underway. It’s a good time to consider second plantings of salad greens like spinach, lettuce and arugula. The first planting may be ready to bolt. My friend Robin Crowningshield showed me how she keeps the same row of lettuce going all summer by making a tent over the row with shade cloth and metal hoops. This keeps the greens from going to seed and she harvests by lifting the cloth on one side and clipping off the leaves needed for salads.
Successive plantings of string beans, radishes, kale or any crop with a shorter growing time can be put in now.
Sometimes it’s difficult to get to the garden due to work or physical limitations. Consider the container garden to meet your needs. You can grow almost anything right on your porch, steps, outside back door or windowsill.
There is no need to travel to a garden spot or perform strenuous work turning soil or weeding long rows. Sun and shade problems can be alleviated because the container can be placed wherever the light is best. The containers can also be brought inside when the weather turns cold next Fall. Soil problems of being too compacted, contain insect eggs and weeds or having toxins in the dirt can be overcome with a potting mix. The colorful pots used add color to your porch.
Climbing plants such as peas, cucumbers and pole beans can use porch posts for support. If you have kids or grandkids gardening in containers gives you a wonderful activity to work on together and kids love seeing the progress of the plants as they produce leaves and then vegetables.
Shallow containers that hold 1 gallon of soil are good for salad greens, radishes, spinach, chives and other herbs. Medium depth containers that hold 2 to 3 gallons of soil are good for green beans, swiss chard, broccoli and cherry tomatoes. Large containers of 3 to 5 gallons can grow standard tomatoes, kale, cucumbers and zucchini. You may find a variety of containers around your home, just be sure there are drainage holes in the bottom. Place rocks in the bottom then sand and then soil.
Water frequently, or depending on rain fall, so that soil doesn’t dry out. Putting compost on the top of the soil helps retain moisture. Fertilize once a month with a top dressing of decomposed manure or Miracle Grow.
Some of the best web sites to visit for container gardens are:
University of Illinois
University of Illinois
University of Tennessee
Container Vegetable Gardening
– Grow Vegetables in Containers
– Container Gardening
– Vegetable Gardening in Containers
“Container Gardens” by Share The Warmth member Jamie Young