I am not going to lie, I am sick of rain. Rain has dominated the weather here in Wisconsin making it very difficult to play in the dirt and get the garden growing. Saturday was warm and sunny and I took that window of rainless time to put my tomatoes in the ground, what a relief that is! I'll write a post on that later, tomatoes are special and require their own blog post. I have been asked a lot lately what vegetables can grow in a container. Life is so busy for most of us that starting a garden is too big of a task and ends up being a chore, another task, and then often comes with mixed results and frustration. The best way to start gardening is to plant a few simple things in containers.
You can grow most vegetables in pots, however, you have to be really careful with tomatoes in containers. Tomato plants are determinate or indeterminate. The determinate tomatoes grow 4 - 6 feet tall while the indeterminate tomatoes are well, indeterminate, and can grow a vine 10 - 14 feet long! You can plant any tomato in a pot and prune it at the top when it gets to big but you have to make sure you have a good stake in the middle for support and encourage side growth on the branches. I would be careful with buying a tomato that is meant for containers, I have found that often they don't have the flavor of the "normal" tomatoes. They are selected to grow in containers and are not selected for flavor. Oh my, how did I get into a lecture on tomatoes? What I wanted to write about today is how to plant something quick and easy especially when you have children and you want them to plant something and watch the growth process.
The above picture is of a grow bag that I found at a garden show three years ago. I have planted a lot of things in every type of container and I have to say that I really do like grow bags. They are attractive, easy to use, light weight and plants produce amazing root structures in them. In a non-porous container, the roots usually circle around the soil at the edges, in a grow bag the roots grow out everywhere. Sorry, I don't have a photo of this to show you right now, I never thought of taking a picture of the roots before. Anyways, the downfall to grow bags are the cost and they only last a few years. The burlap grow bags look good but do not last more than one year.
See the leaves in the bottom of the bag? I am always shocked by how much potting soil I need for container gardening. In the past it was the common garden practice to put rocks in the bottom of the container both for drainage and to take up some space. DON'T DO THAT. Why not? Roots from the plant can wiggle their way to the rocks and dead end between them and will not be able to uptake water or nutrients from the soil. There are three things you can do about this. One, fill up 1/3 of the bag with old leaves or straw if you have that around. Two, fill up a bag with old plastic water bottles and put that at the bottom on the pot, making sure that it completely fills the entire bottom of the pot and it helps to put a black weed fabric on top to stop the growth of the plant roots. Third, put soil in the entire bag/container. Use only container or potting soil in a container and not dirt from your garden or top soil from a bag. The potting mixture will contain peat or vermiculite or a substrate that will help aerate the soil and retain enough water. Also, make sure that there are holes on the bottom for drainage. If you only have a five gallon bucket, which is actually great for growing peppers in, make sure you drill or pound some holes in the bottom.
Bush green beans are great to grow in a container, especially for kids. Green Beans are either a bush type that grow 2-3 feet or pole beans that grow 6-10 feet or more. Simply make a hole that is close to an inch deep and place the seeds in each hole. I have put nine in this pot which is closer than the package instructions, but with new soil and only one pot they will be fine. I then cover up the seeds and water (or lately have it watered by daily Wisconsin rain)! The soil needs to be damp not soaked.
This is not a photo of grown green beans in a container, you will have to wait for that update, but here is bok choy that I planted months ago. It is tasty!
That is all for now. I am hopeful that the rain will subside and that summer will arrive soon. One quick favor to ask, if you enjoy reading my little blog, could you share it with a friend or neighbor? I am trying to increase my readership. Thank you! Happy Gardening!