Container Gardening, Part 1
You would think that at this time of year, I would be all about the soup, given the name of my blog and the fact that my region is about to be plunged into the first subzero temps of the year (crikey!). I am still doing the soup thing (I’ll be posting about my mom’s Chicken Chili Soup in the next few days – one of my faves), but, if you could read my mind, you’d discover that most of my free-time thoughts are spent obsessing over my 2009 gardens.
It’s planning, designing, seed-buying and plant pre-ordering time (the only worthwhile part of January, imo), and from the arrival of the seed catalogs through the end of February, if you’re looking for me, you can just follow the trail of balled up pencil drawings to where I’m curled up with a cat and thumbing through said catalogs and/or favorite garden design books, sketching, erasing, and sketching some more.
I have gardens everywhere. And by gardens, I do mean vegetable gardens. (Rosalind Creasy, you’re my hero.) Any grassy swath in my yard that gets more than 4 hours of sunlight, and is not too terribly far away from a spigot, has been dug up and replaced with dirt. Next to go this year will be the west-facing side yard, spared thus far because it’s a tad too far from a water source for comfort (my back’s comfort, specifically – by the 4th trip, a 2-gallon watering can is heavy), but I’m eyeballing a nearby gutter pipe for conversion to a rain collector.
The realization that vegetable plants are beautiful – in many cases more beautiful than flowers – has been a revelation. Since that moment, my vision of gardening has changed, and I’ve never looked back. No more rectangular plots with tidy rows of mounded greenery. No, sir. There are curves, and layers, and flowers intermingling with rocks and rivulets and ferny carrots, bushy basil and spikey rosemary. Unruly vines chocked with juicy jewels in red and yellow and orange and green, climb wooden walls and wrought iron trellises.
There I go, getting all dreamy. And I’m digressing to boot, as this is a post about container gardening.
My vegetable growing jones is not limited to the ground. By the time June rolls around, every flat surface around my property sports a container with some kind of sumthin’ growing out of it. Container gardening is where I allow my garden center impulse purchases to run wild. (You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout, walking around those fully-stocked nurseries in May, eyes wide (wild-eyed, even), wanting one of this and that and that. That’s how I ended up with orange mint and a lemon-scented geranium last year. Not sure what the orange mint was all about [it was neither orangey nor particularly minty], but as for the scented geranium – my first – well, that’s (those, plural, those are) being figured into the ground-bound gardens this year. Oh, so lovely, I cannot tell you.) If I spot something I have to have, but don’t really know what to do with, I’ll stick it in a pot.
Okay, so, what will grow in containers?
Pretty much everything. Some plants grow better in containers than others, but, to make a sweeping statement, if you have a container large enough, you can grow anything in it. (You’ve seen those huge potted trees in the lobbies of swanky office buildings, right?) Now, pot-bound veggies are probably not going to produce as abundantly as they would in deep, rich, loamy earth, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make you happy.
Your only limitation is the space and sunlight you have available. I grew plants on a tiny, southeast-facing apartment balcony for years, and it’s where my love for peppers developed (my obsession with tomatoes was sown way back in my childhood, when my older brothers raised the most amazing tomatoes I’ve ever seen … or tasted). Of course, back then I didn’t think about vegetable-gardening-as-landscaping, just utilitarian stick-plants-in-pots-and-water-then-pick. If I had a balcony garden right now, I would go vertical and layered. More on this later, in a separate post.
So, what did I grow in containers last year? Lots of stuff. Here’s a little peek (click photos to view larger):
More on container gardening to come…. 🙂