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Edible and Beautiful inOne Blooming Container! Thriller ~ Vertical or Staked Filler ~ Bushy Spiller ~ Vines
WHY CONTAINERS?Containers of edibles canbe functional, moveable,AND aesthetically pleasing.Whimsical, formal,recycled or brand new,they are a way to growmost anything in small,controlled spaces, rightoutside your kitchen dooror wherever the sunniestpart of your garden lies.
BE CREATIVE!! They can be made of clay, Styrofoam, plastic, porcelain, metal, or wood. Anything will do - bathtubs, sugar kettles, kitty litter boxes, 15 – 30 gallon pots, grow-pots, water troughs, insulated lunch bags, colanders, urns… you name it!
Necessary elements:• Enough good soil to keep roots protected, stable and healthy• Avoid mixes that contain peat, feel heavy or gritty, have very fine particles, clumped.• 6 hours of full sun• More fertilization than in-ground plantings; nutrients run out with every watering.• Structure for plants needing support• Good drainage• Daily watering as potted plants dry out more quickly than in-ground plantings• Look for ‘dwarf’ or ‘pixie hybrid’ varieties
Advantages:The advantages to growing food in containers are as varied as the containers you can imagine toplant them in.Renters, novice gardeners, people with handicaps, and children can all participate. There is no tillingor heavy digging involved. Weeds can be easily managed. Containers provide a low-budget way to getstarted, since few tools are needed and less soil-born diseases occur.Containers can be moved for convenience, closer to water supplies, follow the sun (southern andwestern exposures). Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and squash like 6-8 hours of direct sun , Spinachand lettuces – not so much – maybe 3-5 hours. This control over growing conditions can lead tohigher harvest yields. 10 square feet can produce 50lbs of fresh organic produce.Think about reflective light (pools, ponds) and heat retention (concrete, brick) when placingcontainers.Vertical growth allows plants to use walls for support.Lining a porous pot with newspaper can help with water retention in summer, and insulate roots inwinter.http://www.hgic.umd.edu/content/documents/hg600.pdf
Good media mixtures for container vegetables: • 100% compost, less pieces of bark, very decomposed • 100% soil-less mix (sterile, free of disease and contaminates, tends to be on theAdditions of perlite, acidic side, good drainage for startingvermiculite, bone meal, seeds, but seedlings need to be moved intolimestone, blood meal, heavier garden soil once sprouted)sharp sand, and/or leaf • 25% garden soil + 75% compost, verymold should be added decomposeddepending upon what is • 25% soil-less mix + 25% garden soil + 50%being started as seed. compostSoil less mixtures are • 25% garden soil + 75% soil-less mixmostly peat and that can (perlite, vermiculite)be hard to keep watered • 50% soil-less mix + 50% compost (veryproperly, especially in decomposed)our crazy climate.
Vertical Element or ‘Thriller’The height of the ‘thriller’ gives you morespace around the perimeter to plant your‘filler’ and ‘spiller’ elements.Trellised vegetables such as zucchini, summersquash, bush peas and beans, tomatoes, oreggplant, can be considered your ‘vertical’element.Taller upright plants like rosemary, Brusselsprouts, Bay leaf, pineapple sage, lemon grass,borage, brocolli, kohlrabi, fennel, chives,shallots, tomatoes, basil, or peppers work wellas ‘thrillers’.
Bushy Element or ‘Filler’Fillers are the easy part.Leafy vegetables and herbs – collards,mustards, lettuces, mints, sage, thyme,oregano, cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, swisschards (rainbow chard is gorgeous!),arugula, broccoli -raab, lemon verbena, beebalm, cherry tomatoes, cabbages - Chinesecabbages work best, they’re smaller andshinier.Don’t forget to add pollinator attractions,such as marigolds, salvia, or let one of yourbasils bloom.Hanging baskets lined with coconut husk orcoir can be cut to accommodate plants onthe sides, combining ‘filler’ with ‘spiller’.
Overflow Element or ‘Spiller’Spillers add interest, softening thehard edges of any container. Anyvine or weak stemmed plant willdo – mints, thyme, nasturtium,potato vines, strawberries, beans,squash, melons, trailing rosemary,oregano.Be sure tender vines or shootsaren’t burned or cut by yourcontainer’s edges.
Last but Not Least:Gardening is often used aspositive therapy in homegardens, schoolyard gardens,apartment complexes,incarceration complexes, andhospitals. Growing your ownfood is its own wonderfulaccomplishment.Share your produce. Communityis congruous with gardening –family and neighbors can sharein your garden’s beauty and itsbounty.Gardening should be enjoyable.Containers can make it easy.