Make the Most of a Container Garden
● By Patrick John
By Patrick John
2018 WAS A BUM YEAR for our household vegetable garden. The plot out back was left barren and untilled. No time for hoes, rows or scarecrows. Spring is almost here and this year, I’m making it easy with a container fruit and veggie garden on the back patio.
A dozen containers is my limit, but you’ll probably want to adjust the number and size of containers to correspond with the size of your family or household. Smaller pots are good for herbs, and larger containers are good for tall plants like tomatoes and peppers. Containers can be expensive, especially if you want to match the pots to your existing décor or patio color scheme. If you’re on a budget, just go to the local hardware store, buy a bunch of generic 5 gallon paint buckets, drill about 5 drain holes in the bottom, and you are good to go!
Some fruits and vegetables grow better in containers than others. For fruits, dwarf citrus trees do very well, and since they are in pots, you can easily move them to avoid cold spells and freezing temperatures. Our lemon tree went crazy this year, and we have been picking lemons for months. If you are putting a tree in a pot, make it a large container! Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries also grow very well in containers, and you won’t have to get down on the ground to pick them.
For vegetables, tomatoes are a must. There are so many varieties to choose from. Fresh salsa, spaghetti sauce, homemade ketchup, barbecue sauce, pizza and salad toppings are just a pick away. Bell and chili peppers, beans, peas and radishes are easy to take care of and can produce quite a harvest if you take care of them. Lettuce and spinach are simple too, and smaller varieties of eggplant and some squash are excellent container vegetables. Many people are even growing zucchini plants in containers or on arbors where the vegetables are hangin.
If you have kids, this is a great project the family can do together, and it will save you money at the grocery store too. Have fun with it–try to plan whole meals using mostly items coming from your new container garden.
Need help? Talk to the staff at your nearest nursery or garden center– they will be happy to help. Maybe you can reward them later with a loaf of that zucchini bread you’ll be making!