By Julie Martens Forney
Edible crops adapt happily to containers, which means any-size yard can yield homegrown produce. Erratic spring temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic, along with healthy rabbit populations have caused me to shift lettuce crops to pots. This 11-inch-wide container on my porch (above) yields an easy crop of romaine lettuce for salads and sandwiches. I include a few pansies and violas in the pot for early-season color.
Expect to harvest lettuce into late June in the Mid-Atlantic. As days lengthen, lettuce bolts (see photo). Let heirloom varieties set seed, and you can sow it in early August for a fall crop.
Container edibles, such as lettuce, don’t need deep containers. Shallow, bowl-type pots work well. I fill lettuce pots with a blend of three parts commercial potting mix and one part compost, working a small handful of slow-release organic fertilizer into soil prior to planting.
Another container edible that does great in the Mid-Atlantic is strawberries. If your family loves berries, a strawberry jar offers an easy way to grow enough for fresh eating.
From an average six-pocket jar, expect to gather up to 1 quart of strawberries per plant over the course of the growing season. With the everbearing variety ‘Quinault’, I harvested about 1 cup of berries every few days during peak bearing season (early June in the Mid-Atlantic), with a slightly lower yield the rest of the summer.
Prepare a piece of capped 1.5-inch-wide PVC pipe drilled with holes along the length. Insert this pipe into the strawberry jar before adding soil. Allow the open end of the pipe to protrude above the soil. When you water, moisten soil, and fill the pipe. Water leaks through the drilled holes in the pipe to soak each pocket.
I’ve also grown potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers in containers in my Mid-Atlantic yard. Do you have any favorite container edibles? Share your tips and success stories below.