April 28, 2012

Tip, Trick or Technique

Container Gardening

Ever wish you could grow fresh tomatoes or herbs but you don't really have a spot to build a garden or not enough sun in that spot. Never fear, grow a container garden. According to a Garden Association Survey about half of all gardens are grown in a container.

There are a few things to remember.

Location, location, location
Vegetables need 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. For heat-loving plants, a south or southwest exposure is best. A southeastern exposure gives them light early in the day and keeps them out of the strong afternoon sun. Of course if your container small enough to carry, you can move from place to place, as necessary.

Choosing a container
There are many things to chose from as a container. Terra-cotta, wood, plastic. Just make sure that it has drainage holes at or near the bottom and that it’s deep enough for what you want to grow. Lettuces and herbs require the least depth; tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, and cukes the most. Here's an article on what to grow in what size container.

Soil selection is critical
A high-quality potting soil is your best bet, another good choice is a commercial soil-less mix. Topsoil alone is too heavy and should be avoided. And it never hurts to add some compost to retain moisture.

Plant from seed or seedling
Nearly any vegetable can be grown in containers, but it’s best avoid “mammoth” varieties. Stick with “patio” tomatoes, Asian-style eggplants (long and skinny), and bush squash. Anything tall will need a trellis or stake and a deep container.

For seeds, make a shallow depression in the soil, sprinkle in some seeds, cover lightly with sand, and water. For seedlings, plant and water. Be prepared to thin when the seeds sprout.

Water and fertilize
NEVER let your containers dry out completely! In this Texas heat they're a goner. It's best to water early in the morning or in the evening but never in the heat of the day. You might consider providing some type of shade as well for when the weather really heats up. A bright garden umbrella works great so that you can raise and lower it to provide the right amount of shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Reap what you sow
There are many great recipes using fresh vegetables and herbs and now you'll have lots of opportunity to use them. Veggies are great cooked on the grill, in salads or on their own. Next week I'll be sharing some new cookbooks with some super recipes. Do you use your local library! I love to check out books that I wouldn't otherwise purchase. Cookbooks are a perfect example of something I love to pour over while I'm on the patio in these cool mornings and evenings while I'm watching the veggies grow and the bees and the butterflies do their work.

What is your favorite thing to grow?

Get out there and garden!

This post was written by Mindi at Red Dog Barkery. Visit her Etsy shop for durable, yet fashionable goods, or her blog for bits that are sure to whet your appetite.