By Julie A. Martens
Homegrown produce ripened by the sun tastes amazing. You can fill your family’s dinner plates with wonderful garden-fresh flavors -- no matter how little garden space you have. Many edible crops thrive in containers, yielding a handsome harvest. Strawberries in a traditional strawberry jar, for instance, can yield several quarts of berries -- not enough at once for jam, but plenty for fresh eating.
Lettuce Loves Pots
Leaf lettuce thrives in containers.
I raise lettuce in pots because it’s beautiful and handy for harvest. Also, rabbits seem to leave it alone. If I plant it in the main garden, not one leaf ever hits my salad bowl. In a pot on the porch, I get the whole harvest.
My neighbors, Butch and Phyllis, have a small yard with a small garden. Last year, they decided to increase their growing area using clever containers.
Butch built this wooden planter from 2 x 6s he painted to match the deck. For long-lasting use, treat lumber with a waterproof wood sealant.
The planter raises bush beans to a comfortable height for picking and keeps them beyond the reach of hungry bunnies.
Use Every Space
On the deck, Butch and Phyllis added plastic window box containers planted with bush cucumbers.
The vines eventually climbed the deck rails. Cucumbers like warm soil and full sun, so these vines produced well in this hot spot.
Tips for Container Edibles
- Grow the right veggies. Bush-type vegetables -- including cucumbers, beans, and summer squash -- along with peppers and determinate-type tomatoes yield well in containers.
- Use quality soil. Start with a soilless-type mix for containers. Add a few handfuls of compost to help soil retain moisture.
- Water frequently. Pots dry out quickly. As plants grow, check soil moisture frequently. At peak growth in high summer, expect to water containers up to twice daily.
- Add mulch. A mulch layer on soil slows moisture loss, as can grouping pots together.
Make room for edible crops in your yard this year. You won’t regret it.