Posted on Mar 20, 2019 | by J Kirkpatrick
Start planning now for spring...
For those who enjoy home grown vegetables, now is the time to start. Even if you live in an apartment or condo there are wonderful options. Creating a garden is a lot easier than you think. With a little careful planning you can enjoy an easy-care garden that provides you with armloads of delicious homegrown vegetables from spring till fall - regardless of your space.
One of the easiest methods to achieve a productive vegetable garden is to use the wildly successful "4 foot method." This means that crops are grown in 4x4 foot framed squares above ground with their own soil. There is no need to dig up turf, no worries about weeds, and the creation and maintenance is a breeze. If your best sunny location is rocky, or has poor drainage, raised beds are best. Raised beds can extend the growing season since the soil is able to warm up sooner, they offer better drainage, and are easier to care for since they are protected from the encroaching grass and weeds.
Container options have definitely improved over the years and the Crescent TruDrop Reservoir system series is no exception. While most any container will do - depending on what you wish to grow - what often proves troublesome with containers is keeping the soil moist. The built-in water reservoir on the TruDrop systems make this a no-brainer.
A container garden, as the name implies, is simply a garden in a container. This type of gardening offers many benefits: versatility, mobility, and accessibility. Plus, depending on the container, it can move with the sun if necessary.
Things to consider when choosing a container:
- Size - keep in mind what plant you want to grow. The size and shape of a plant's root system and how rapidly it grows will determine how large and deep the container must be. Root bound plants dry out rapidly and will not grow well. Hanging baskets can be particuarly prone to this. Larger planters will hold more soil and stay moist longer and are less subject to rapid temperature fluctuations.
- Drainage - all container gardens MUST have drainage. Holes need not be large but must be big enough to allow excess water to drain out. Without drainage, soil will become waterlogged and plants may die.
- Material choice: wood, resin, metal
Resin planters are made of lightweight material that is easy to move. They come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes such as urns, rectangular low planters, tall and low dish shapes. Three of any type grouped together in a sunny spot on a deck or in the yard would be eye-catching and efficient way to achieve a small vegetable garden.
Another easy-to-care-for, movable and elegant option is a hayrack planter. Hayrack planters come in free-standing varieties in several sizes and shapes. A cradle planter near a back door planted with 4-5 varieties of lettuce could produce enough lettuce for the entire season. There are other varieties, such as our "window hayrack" that are meant to be secured to a deck, fence or attached to the house, perhaps under a window. An apartment or condo patio railing would be most eye-catching with several half round hayrack baskets all planted with with a variety of herbs.
A cascading tiered planter with varying types of vegetables and herbs would be lovely on a deck or as a focal point in your yard. Imagine one filled with red and green lettuce, herbs and spinach set near your front door. This would be both a yummy and convenient garden option.
If you have the space, consider our larger rectangular cedar planters. There is even an elevated option, making bending and kneeling unnecessary.
When preparing your container for vegetables, remember that garden soil is too dense for container plantings. For containers up to 1 gallon, use a houseplant soil mix. For larger containers, use a relatively coarse soilless planting mixture to maintain the needed water and air balance. This can be purchased or you can make your own using equal parts of compost or sphagnum peat, pulverized pine or fir bark and perlite or vermiculite. For each cubic foot of mix add 4 oz. dolomitic limestone, 1 lb. rock phosphate or colloidal phosphate, 4 oz. greensand, 1 lbs granite dust and 2 oz. blood meal.
By trellising vegetables up, rather than along the ground you protect them from pests and diseases offering sunlight and air circulation.
A sturdy trellis or rose pillar is an easy way to utilize your vertical space effectively by planting with cucumbers, squash, peas and beans, or even tomatoes. Trellises can be either free-standing or erected against a wall, but must be strong enough to bear the weight of the vegetables.
If you have a fence attach our lattice wall trellis and allow your plants to climb up the fence. If you need to conserve space and want to go up within your sunny garden, we offer rose pillars, free-standing trellises and arbors - a wall arch could be fun over a walkway or patio. Two trellises side by side would make a lovely "growing" privacy fence.
Need seed ideas? Check out Johnny's Selected Seeds