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    Container Kitchen Gardening

    A Simple Way to Grow Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs and Flowers

    Container kitchen gardening is a convenient and productive way to grow good things to eat without the work of a large garden. More and more folks are discovering this quick and easy means of gardening.

    Start with a Container

    TSC has an abundant supply of large containers that would work well for planting veggies, herbs, flowers and fruit or look around your garage or barn. You will be amazed what you will find to use for planters. I have been known to use water tanks, feed buckets, old chairs, bird houses, large funnels, bird baths, wheelbarrows, tractor tires, bushel baskets, granite dishpans, wash tubs and my all time favorite, old worn out work boots from my sons. Plenty of planting room in size 14 and 15 boots!

    When using recycled plant containers, wash them with a light bleach solution and dry in the sun to kill any unfriendly micro-organisms.

    Choose a Location

    Most vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers are sun lovers. Try to find a sunny location close to where you live and cook. A nearby water source is always a smart idea and will save you time and frustration.

    Fill Up the Containers

    Although it is tempting to dig up soil from the backyard or back 40, don’t do it. A balanced potting soil or a rich compost mixture that includes chicken or cow manure works well without the headache of weeds and disease. Starting with healthy soil will mean healthy plants.

    If the container is extra deep use some recycled plastic bottles or milk jugs to take up some of the extra room in the bottom of the planter. This will save money and your back when you try to move it. A depth of 12"-18" is plenty of soil to grow most veggies, herbs and flowers. For small fruit trees and blueberries give the roots more soil room.

    What to Plant

    This is where the fun begins. Vegetable selection should begin with what your family really likes to eat. Depending on the time of year you can grow cool season vegetables (plant in early spring and again in midsummer) like beets, radishes, lettuce, greens, green onions, peas, carrots and mini cabbages. Warm season vegetables could include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers melons, okra, eggplant, tomatillos or even little pumpkins.

    Container Kitchen Gardens are Easy to Start from Seed

    Adapt the mature size of the vegetables with the size of the container. This is easy to tell by reading the back of the seed packet. An heirloom tomato that gets 2’ wide by 5’ tall may need a larger container than grape or cherry tomatoes which are much smaller plants. Follow the planting directions and time to plant in your area on the back of the seed packet. You can also start seeds indoors and transplant to the containers at the appropriate time. Use a ‘jiffy’ seed starter or build your own seed starter.

    Spice it Up

    Add herbs like basil, chives, cilantro, garlic, lemon balm, mint, oregano, nasturtiums, summer savory, thyme and rosemary. These herbs make good companions to discourage would be pests and are a real bonus for the cook or tea drinker.

    Strawberries are easy to grow in containers and a delicious treat for the whole family.

    Mix in flowers

    Flowers in the container kitchen garden by adding color and providing food and shelter for beneficial insects. Edible flowers perform double duty, pretty and tasty in drinks and salads. Some edible flowers to plant… arugula, basil, calendula, chamomile, chives, coriander, dianthus, dill, impatiens, lavender, lemon verbena, mint, nasturtium, okra, pansy, pea (vegetable only) and radish flowers.

    Putting it All Together

    When designing the kitchen garden choose a mixture of plants using various colors, shapes, textures and flavors; a pot with one tomato plant is practical but not very interesting. The following is a basic formula that will help you put your container kitchen garden together.

    • Vertical interest: Choose a plant that is tall for the center of the container, a real show stopper. Add a trellis or stake for large or climbing vegetables or flowers. Examples: Tomato, lemon grass, tomatillo, chives, okra, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, scarlet runner beans, little pumpkins.
    • Mid-section: Use plants with lots of texture, blooms and/or foliage, fill it out. Examples: basil, peppers, eggplant, calendula, savory, parsley, beets, radish, greens, mini sunflowers and dwarf zinnias.
    • Bottom fall out: Plants with natural drooping tendencies go around the edge, cascading down the sides as they grow. Examples: prostrate rosemary, thyme, cucumber, golden oregano, mint, alyssum.

    In other words, you will need a thriller, fillers and spillers. It’s okay to have theme container gardens as well like ‘Salsa’ with jalapeno, tomato, onions and cilantro or a ‘Salad’ planter with lettuce, radish, tomato, cucumber and pepper or an ‘Italian garden with tomatoes, garlic, peppers, onions, and eggplant – you get the idea.

    Tuck in a few more seeds now and then to keep the produce coming when other plants fade or get pulled for dinner.

    And Finally

    Water, fertilize, deadhead and harvest your container kitchen garden on a regular basis. Growing healthy food just outside the back door is a great way to supplement the dinner table and shave a few bucks off the grocery bill. Bon appetite!

    TSC Kitchen Garden Supplies:

    Helpful items to get you well on the road to container kitchen gardening success are available at your local TSC store:

    • Containers
    • Potting soil
    • Compost
    • Fertilizer
    • Seeds
    • Jiffy
    • Watering
    • Garden
    • Hoses
    • Rain
    • Garden
    • Water