Saturday, January 10, 2015

Containers: Veggies for Balconies, Decks and Porches

If  you don't have much yard or sun, you can still grow veggies in containers.  This lush container of greens provided a bountiful harvest today at the Harvesters Demonstration Garden.  We have a "curbside treasure" garden where we grow in things we found on the curb to show you don't need to spend a fortune to get started.  Avoid any chemically treated wood or container that held chemicals and try to use a light color to avoid heat build-up.

 Vegetables don't care a lot about the container as long as it is large enough and has good drainage. One of most common reasons for wimpy container harvests is using a too-small container.  Although greens and lettuces tolerate a pot that is only five inches deep, a small tomato plant really prefers a container 5 gallons or larger.  We use several half-barrels that produce beautiful crops year after year.
You can even use the reusable shopping bags that are widely available.  We sewed four bags together are their tops to create the effects of a larger container that won't dry out as quickly.  Here there are as we planted them in early April and below you can see how the plants are quite happy. 

Raising the Stakes - and Trellises

taking tomatoes are another option. Use a 1 x2 inch wood stake about 6 feet long.  Place it about 4 inches from the base of the tomato plant.  As the tomato grows, use commercial  ties, cut up t-shirts or other stretchy cloth.  Bring the cord under a branch on the main stem and attach to the stake.  Leave at least 1/2" play to  

Peppers need stakes 3-4 feet tall so you can tie the main stem to the stake.  Stake or cage early in the season so plants and  root aren't damaged in the process.

Tomato cages may be left in the garden all season but wooden and metal stakes benefit from coming inside for the winter.  Chimney flue tiles, available from masonry supply stores, make sturdy containers for stakes of all types.