Friday, May 14, 2010

Staying Beautiful All Summer

This old copper boiler contains sage, a small cherry tomato plant, parsley and petunias.
This is a tomato plant by the back door.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” - Erich Fromm

Recently, I did a garden presentation for the Kewanee Business and Professional Women. I had some herbs & discussed how to use them in garden pots. Potting generated quite a few questions and I thought I’d share some of the answers with you.

I focused on using pots for herbs and vegetables because of the diverse ages and time constraints of the group. Most health and time limitations still permit enjoying some basic fresh vegetables and herbs if done in pots.

Following are suggestions for those who can’t do hard labor or take a lot of time with a large garden.

The Pots:
· Don’t use little pots because they won’t allow root growth and will dry out too fast.
· If you don’t want to purchase a flower pot, re purpose a copper boiler, old canner, etc.
· Unglazed pottery will need more watering.
· All pots should have drainage holes.

To Fill:
· In large containers, fill about 1/3 with crushed aluminum cans, plastic milk jugs, or shipping peanuts. (The exception: tomatoes do better with all soil.)
· Next a thick layer of newspapers touching all sides.
· Add potting soil that contains fertilizer and some kind of moisture-retaining substance.

The plants:
· It takes less work if you use vegetables that won’t get huge or need staking.
· Herbs may be planted with a few flowers.
· Leaf lettuce forms a nice border.
· USE the herbs & vegetables to keep them producing and bushy.

The process:
· Add a one inch layer of wood mulch after planting.
· As the season and roots progress, the plants will need more water.
· Water until it runs out the bottom, then stop until next time.
· Fertilize with a liquid type three months after planting and continue monthly until frost. Fish emulsion is my favorite (Don’t use if you have cats-they may dig in the pots.)
· Pick your produce as soon as it’s ripe to keep the plant producing.

· Add color to your pots by adding peppers, curly or colored leaf plants, a Wave petunia, sweet potato vine, varieties of herbs, or a geranium.
· A small glass ball, statue or other garden ornaments can brighten all green plants.
· Pots sitting in full sun produce more.
· Pots placed near a water source & where they’re seen helps you remember to tend & use.

Creatively potting your favorite food allows you to eat well even if you aren’t up to tending a large garden.

“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” Edwin Way Teale

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