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Earth Day Love: Container Gardens


A sense of marvel flooded over me.

On my tiny 4-foot by 6-foot patio,  thumb-sized potatoes grew from old peelings and three Kentucky blue green beans hung ripe on a piece of string attached to my patio chair.

Proudly, holding my agricultural bounty, I turned to show my visiting father.

Without a word, he took one of the beans and with a crunch, bit into it.

“Mmmmm, tastes good,”

A gasp of horror escaped my mouth.

In a flash, one-third of my harvest had disappeared.

Realizing disappointment is experienced time-to-time by every farmer, the next year I expanded my container garden. Now a couple of decades later, I still plant in containers placed among rows of in-grown vegetables.

Having a small garden allows constant fresh foods as part of your weight loss diet.  Being portable, pots of produce move easily. The rewards of being a container gardener include no need for big tools or goofy hats.

If your green thumb is a sickly verdant – find faith – it will soon be healthy, like the rest of you.

First, before buying plants or seeds, measure the space you will devote to the garden.  If limited on space, think about gardening in levels.  Perhaps, utilize an unused cabinet, shelving or shoe rack for a new task.  Balcony railings are best to hold strings for crawling peas and beans. Hi-rise dwellers should check first with management about policy. No one, especially someone at street level, wants to see a container of cucumbers in free fall.

Container gardens required more watering.  Can you easily bring water outside without slopping 5-gallon buckets through your home?

Second, find your hardness zone.  This will keep you from planting cherry tomatoes in Florida during May, when in February is the best month.

Third, over one complete sunny day keep a list of how many hours your garden-in-progress receives sun.  This will help in your plant selection, as most vegetables require a minimum of six hours or sunshine. Should your outside spot receive less sunlight – do not despair.  Leafy greens like spinach, as well as peas and Brussels sprouts like shade.

Be aware the sun’s intensity can increase during the summer.  Is there room to move plants away from sizzling rays or put up partial shade?

Fourth, make a list of your favorites.  Do not settle for just parsley and lettuce.

One-gallon buckets are perfect for growing vegetables such as spinach and bok choy.  The Gretl eggplant’s 4-inch fruits are easy to grow in a two-gallon pot, as is one head of cabbage, Swiss chard and edamame. If you love beets, plant them in a three-gallon pot, and remember their leaves are also delicious and vitamin rich.

Good to know is plant’s roots can cook in pots made of dark plastic and ceramic in a hot climate and most potting soils will work with periodic nutrients added during the season.  For individualized geographic information, check out your local county cooperative extension office.

This pre-planting homework helps when you enter a garden center or stand by the revolving seed display. Here intoxicating sights and smells weaken many a new gardener leading them to buy enough merchandise to fill Kew Gardens.

Happy gardening.

About LJ Bottjer

LJ Bottjer is a citizen of the world, whose journey began in Manhattan. Now living in Northern California, her garden produces healthy food almost year-round and she enjoys biking, yoga and hiking. www.words4sail.com
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