Every year, I look forward to planting my garden that will produce an abundance of tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, eggplant and anything else I plant. Not only is growing my own food a great value financially, but having a supply of fresh ingredients for the table and knowing how it was grown is important as well.
Many of the edible plants we can grow make fantastic ornamental plants as well. The stalks of Bright Lights Swiss Chard are so vibrant in color that they rival anything in the flower garden. Okra makes a great background plant or a screen, strawberry plants and sweet potatoes make great groundcovers, and determinate tomato plants work well as small bushes in the landscape for the summer. The options are endless.
Not only do I add a few food plants to my landscape, I include them in patio containers as well. Most every time I’m preparing a meal, I’m looking for a fresh jalapeño pepper, basil or tomato to add to the dish. It’s great having these ingredients only a pick away from the kitchen.
For successful food growing containers, here are a few tips:
Containers - I always use a larger container size than I think I need. My recommendation is at least a 10 gallon container (14” diameter or larger) size. I’ve used nursery containers as a last resort, but I prefer either a Smart Pot which is a cloth container used in commercial production or an Earth Box.
Clay or glazed pots and large decorative containers also work well. One thing that I always look for is how well a container drains. If you use a container that has little or no drainage, you’ll be disappointed in how your plants perform - flowering or fruiting.
Soil media - A soil media that drains well is as important as the container. If you use a heavy, poorly draining soil media, you’ll be disappointed. I like to use either ferti-lome Ultimate Potting Mix or FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Mix. Not only do these mixes drain well, they are weed-free and fertilizer free. That enables gardeners to use the fertilizer they want for the plants in the container, unlike soil mixes with fertilizers added.
Fertilizers - I get the transplants started with ferti-lome Blooming and Rooting Plant Food and add ferti-lome Start-N-Grow at planting as a slow release fertilizer lasting for up to a month. After that, I regularly water with ferti-lome All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food or side dress with ferti-lome Garden Cote.
If you're unsure of where to start in your garden, or would like recommendations on vegetable varieties, we're here to help. We hope to see you this spring!
Your friend in the garden,
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center
PS - Johnson's 34th Annual Fill-A-Flat Sale begins today! If you're planting, watch the weather forecast over the next few days. If we dip below 40 degrees, tender annuals will need to be covered. A cardboard box makes an easy temporary cover!