Vegetable Garden In Containers
If you garden on cement -- a porch, a patio or a balcony -- you may think vegetable gardening must be left to the folks who have back yards, with room to dig in the dirt. Not true. You can grow edibles, including tomatoes, beans, eggplants and cucumbers, in containers in any outdoor space that gets six or more hours of direct sun a day. Greens, such as lettuce and chard, can get by with three to four hours of sunlight. Most herbs prefer full sun, but they too can get by on less.
All that's needed is a container, a bag of potting soil, a bit of fertilizer and transplants or seeds and you are on your way. You can buy a container, but you probably have something around the house to recycle as a planter. An old bushel basket lined with a plastic bag is perfect for growing veggies and greens. A basket, lined with plastic, makes a charming portable herb garden.
Growing vegetables and herbs in containers is easy, but if you're new to gardening or are in need of inspiration, the new book, "The Bountiful Container" by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey (Workman, $16.95) is a must have. Even experienced gardeners will also find it jam packed with helpful tips.
Most container gardening books focus on flowers and give little space to growing vegetables, which may be why too few folks do it. McGee and Stuckey want their readers to succeed and grow an artfully designed container garden that looks as good as it tastes and they provide information that every gardener needs to know.
Whether gardening in pots or a potager, continuous seasonal planting, called succession planting, is the secret to maximum production as well as good looks. McGee and Stuckey have taken the mystery out this simple procedure with a clear explanation and a trio of sample plans that walk the reader through the three seasons of planting.
Choosing pots, putting together a trellis, picking plants, growing tips -- it's all here. This dynamic duo, even included recipes to entice gardeners to try something new.
Orchestrating a container garden, putting together pleasing plant combinations can be a challenge for gardeners, but the authors have taken care of that problem. Interspersed throughout the book, are pots full of treasures, line drawings of delightful little theme gardens, along with their plant lists. Providing the page numbers for each plant listed, allows the reader to quickly reference the individual descriptions and growing requirements.
All that's missing from the book are photo illustrations. The line drawings are charming, but I love seeing the real thing. However, not including photos and binding with a soft cover allows the publisher to offer this jam-packed 430-page container gardening bible for the bargain price of $16.95. It's a super buy.
You can order "The Bountiful Container," seeds of recommended plant varieties and herb plants from Nichols Garden Nursery (800) 422-3985, www. nicholsgardennursery.com. Author Rose Marie Nichols McGee is president of this family-owned business.
Don't let having to start plants from seed deter you from growing a three-season edible garden. A foolproof APS (Accelerated Propagating System) seed starting kit from Gardener's Supply (800) 427-3363, www. gardeners.com, makes seed starting a no-brainer. The 24-cell model, priced at $9.95, is a neat and tidy way to start the seeds of several varieties of plants in a single container.