It’s not too late to consider container kitchen gardening this year. Many expensive-to-buy herbs and produce grow well in containers, right on your deck or patio. It’s very convenient to just step out of the kitchen to water as well as harvest your garden. I like the idea of planting edibles; they are just as pretty as flowers and if I'm going to water, why not have something for the table. Generous watering, however, is a must, sometimes twice a day in hot weather. Nothing goes to waste because it's so visible and handy. Our next-door neighbors on both sides have followed suit this Spring.
|Our doorstep garden this year and from the last 2 years.|
What can I say about tomatoes – I plant 3 varieties to minimize the effects of disease, and I don’t plant them all at once. We love peppers, and I tried a new variety (to us), Redskin, last year with great success. We also like both green and yellow peppers. We use at least 5 gallon pots or buckets for tomatoes and peppers. If I have (and I usually do) more tomatoes than we can eat fresh, I make my very favorite, tomato jam, and then tomato soup and spaghetti sauce. I use the basil and peppers in these too, and also freeze the remaining peppers.
Lettuce, spinach, radishes and basil grow very well in shallow boxes or window boxes. I keep mine on a outdoor shelf to defeat the neighborhood rabbits. Although lettuce will come back after cutting, it will get bitter and bolt when it gets too hot. I reseed lettuce and spinach in late August for another round of salads. I make pesto from the last of the basil and freeze it before the first frost – basil is very tender.
The other big advantage of container gardening is the ease of either covering them or moving them to shelter if we have a late Spring or early Fall frost. We had a frost on May 9 this Spring, and I just moved the 2 tomato plants I had started under my patio roof. The rest of my early garden, lettuce, radishes, spinach, and chives, sage and parsley, weren’t bothered by the light frost and will last longer in the cool weather. I don’t plant basil and peppers until after May 15th here. I have also found it worthwhile to cover or move my garden pots for the first fall frost; I frequently get another 2 or more weeks before we get regular frosts.
The obvious last big advantage to container gardening is no weeding. The tradeoff is more watering. The payoff is fresh garden produce and herbs for the table all summer, right by your door.