By Susan Albert
Now that temperatures have stabilized and the threat of frost has passed, it’s time for gardeners in Texas and Oklahoma to plant warm-season veggies, herbs, and small fruits.
When space is at a premium, it’s nice to tuck in a few vegetables, herbs, or fruits among the ornamentals. In the example pictured above, strawberry plants grow along the front-yard garden beds. As long as that spot is sunny with well-drained soil, it should be ideal. Blueberry bushes are becoming popular additions to garden beds too, and their leaves are attractive as well.
When adding veggies among your plants, consider the soil. If it’s not up to par, just build up a mound with amended soil, level the top, and plant away.
Other edibles that do well in small gardens are tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, green onions, pole beans, and green beans. They thrive in 1- to 5-gallon containers on a sunny patio or along porch steps.
Herbs make wonderful container companions. Depending on the pot size, plant two to three in each. Useful herbs include Greek oregano, parsley, sage, basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, and dill.
For a vegetable-and-herb container garden, start with varying sizes of pots, then add purchased garden soil or potting mix. Top with garden compost or bagged composted manure. Spread an inch or two on top, and mix it into the soil.
Drainage is important. Make sure water can flow freely from the pots with drainage holes. One of my containers doesn’t drain very quickly, so I elevated it with bricks to allow better water movement.
Veggies that take more space, such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, need the largest containers -- at least 5 gallons. In this photo the largest container holds a ‘Patio’ tomato plant. The clay pot holds a green pepper plant, and the other two containers feature herbs: chives, Greek oregano, parsley, sage, and hyssop.
To help regulate soil temperature, retain moisture and discourage weeds, always add a thick layer of mulch on top of the soil. Water and fertilize regularly during the season.
Strawberries do well in wide containers, but because the berries spread quickly by runners, they can soon outgrow the spaces.
Have fun with your small-space edibles this season, and liven up your meals with fresh herbs and vegetables!