Monday, April 4, 2016

Container Gardening for Cooks

When I dream about kitchen gardens, I imagine the lush raised beds in the film It's Complicated.  It's one of those fairy tale gardens, casting a spell over all who enter. Anyone who saw that movie is still spell-bound in some way. But what if space is limited? What if you don't have 25 hours a day to pull weeds (or have a full-time gardener)? What if you have a physical infirmity, and you cannot traipse out to a garden when you need a tomato? A container garden on your back porch may be the answer.



When I decided to make a small kitchen garden, I jotted down a few ideas. I didn't want too many pots (winter may be over, but a long, hot summer is coming), and I do tend to go overboard. I made a list of vegetables that didn't require lots of horizontal space--or deep root systems. Lettuce grows nicely in a pot, though it tends to be picked and eaten rather quickly (then you'll be able to use the pot for another purpose). The other day, I read about a gardener who grew cabbages on a balcony garden. But cherry tomatoes may be the most traditional and beloved plant to grow in a pot. Just give them a nice, deep, well-drained pot, rich soil, and a stake, along with organic fertilizer, and the 'maters will keep giving and giving all summer. 


I selected a large, lightweight pot that had a pre-drilled hole, which I immediately plugged with a small rock so water wouldn't immediately gush out.


This early in the year, pickings were slim at the package store, but I managed to find a delightful cultivar: Black Cherry. You can research black tomatoes HERE.




I'm also growing herbs and edible flowers from seed, which I hope to share soon.

If you're in the mood for something fresh and versatile, you might want to pot a few strawberry plants. In previous years, my mother and my husband have planted berries in the yard, but they didn't have much luck. So I thought I'd try to grow them in pots.


I found some small pots at the package store.



  Planting them gave me the heebie-jeebies. The strawberry plants were way too large for the tiny outcroppings on the jar. Bandwidth encouraged me to divide the plants (there were 2 in each pot). Everbloomers went into 3 pots; All-Star blooms in June; those plants went into the 4th jar.

I don't know which one of us went into shock first--me or the berry plants.


I felt sure they'd all die, but the plants perked up in a few hours. According to my research, the flowers should be removed during the first growing season to promote a sturdy root system, but I'll have to toughen up before I can pick those dainty blooms.


I'd love to plant a red, juicy patio tomato, too. Do you have a recommendation?

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16 comments:

  1. Mm mm black cherry tomatoes and strawberries will make for delightful picking and eating this summer!
    Mrs. Antsy's pizza garden will be tasty, too. You're making me want to go buy some oregano (mine died this past winter) and some basil plants. I'd better head to the garden store!

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  2. You are very busy planting! I would like to try growing some cherry tomatoes! Nothing like homegrown veggies. You will be eating well this summer for sure. Sheila

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  3. Of course I had to go back and look at the veggie garden in It's Complicated....I loved that movie but funny enough had forgotten the gardens! They are a bit unrealistic for sure but we can definitely take a bit of inspiration from them....I grow veggies in my zone 5a garden in upstate NY and get quite the harvest in a small space! Check out the blog at 66squarefeet - google search it - she did amazing things with a tiny balcony in NYC. Good luck with your tomatoes and strawberries!

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    1. Awesome link! I'm looking forward to your garden posts!

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  4. I have tried to grow strawberries in a pot like that, but all I get are little bitty ones. I use coffee filters in the drain holes in the bottom of pots, keeps the dirt in and the water is slow to leak out, but it will still drain. I'll have to wait at least another week for our last frost date to pass. I can't wait to dig in the dirt!

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  5. Looks like your going to have some yummy veggies and berries. My Olalliberries are full of blooms. Can hardly wait as I will make a Olalloberry cobbler. These berries are in the blackberry family (I think) and are much larger that blackberries and are so good.

    Have a great week.
    Mary

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    1. I've never heard of Olalliberries--they sound scrumptious!

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  6. I had some strawberries for a while. My little cocker spaniel would go by and nip off the ripe ones! I see you got some Rose Tone- good stuff! I cut a piece of my landscape fabric and then cut it into squares and put them on the drain holes to slow down the dirt that wants to fall out and yet it still allows the water to get through. I can only dream about planting things right now. We're still being abused up here with snow! I do a lot of container gardening (flowers that is) because I don't like fussing with bedding plants. We've been rewarded with plenty of tomatoes from one plant in a pot so I know it works fine. Enjoy your spring planting!

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  7. That master gardeners class is really changing your life! I love it! I may just try some veggies in pots this summer, from your inspiration!! I would LOOOOOVE to have fresh tomatoes!!!!

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  8. Great! Food from the garden is beautiful!

    Offtop:
    Please add me to your virtual kitchen :) Board 'Top Food Bloggers on Pinterest'

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    1. Klauss, I tried to add you, but I couldn't find you at Pinterest.What is your pinner name? Thanks!

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  9. cherry tomatoes are the one thing I can grow! I am in admiration of your gardening skills!
    Jenna

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    1. I hope I can grow them. LOL The green thumb in my family skips a generation, and I got skipped.

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  10. I am dying to get started on my small container garden, so this was a timely and fun post to read. I tend to try something new every year, so this year I'm going to see if I can grow shishito peppers from the seeds I collected from some fresh ones I had last year. I've had mixed results with tomatoes, so am not sure if I'll give container space over to them or to cucumbers.

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  11. What a lovely post - truly a feast for the eyes. I'm visiting from Tweak It Tuesday.

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