Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Basics of Container Gardening

Starting a container garden is not difficult.

Drainage is very important. Water should not accumulate in the container.  Last year, I bought these rather expensive and pretty containers which were supposed to be self watering. Indeed the water stayed in,  but excess water had nowhere to escape and soon overflowed and drowned the plants. This year, we opened the hole in the bottom of the containers to allow better drainage. We're hoping the plants will do better.

Soil is also a key factor. Fortunately, there are plenty of good potting mixes out there. You can't go wrong with Miracle Gro, which comes in organic version. You don't need to completely change all the soil each year, but it's good to mix in a fresh supply of potting mix with each planting.

Get good plants. Early in the season, while the fresh supply has just arrived, you can't go wrong with any of them, but later in the season, plants tend to get neglected in bigger stores. Try to get green and fresh looking plants.

The fun part is choosing your plants. For a 12 inch pot, you'll need about 4-5 plants. Generally, a tall plant to serve as the centerpiece for the middle, a midsize plant like coleus, flowering plants like wave petunias, and plants that trail down like vinca vine. It's easy to grab a fully made container, but the fun part is making your own arrangement, choosing your color scheme, and watching and waiting for the flowers to grow and bloom.

For our garden this year, we bought about a dozen each of 5-6  kinds of plants and let the kids just pick and choose what goes in the containers. After seeing a sample and learning the basic principle, they created some really pretty arrangements.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The beginning of our 2013 summer garden

City gardening can be a really enjoyable experience. For years now, we have enjoyed growing organic vegetables and herbs right on our decks.

Through this blog, I hope to share our experience with city gardening and hopefully inspire others.

These herbs and vegetables were just planted about 3 weeks ago and they're off to a great start.

 Sweet Basil  is perfect for making pesto.

 Peppermint tea for those lazy summer afternoons.

Thyme grows very well all the way until the cold months.

 Mexican Tarragon and Thai Basil 

This chive plant has grown back over and over in the same pot for the past 10 years,
with very little  care!

Lavender plants bring back images of Provence. 

The herbs are on a deck container at a perfect height for
tending and right beside a patio table where you can sit and smell their sweet scent.

 Hoping to use this Thai Basil for summer cooking.

Rosemary definitely thrives even through the beginning of winter.

Flat parsley 

 Love the smell of the early blooms of this lavender.

Mesclun mix planted as seeds. These should give
us a bountiful harvest of greens for many weeks. 

 Container gardening is great for expressing your artistic tendencies.

Colorful calibrachoas are the trend this season. They look 
like mini petunias and come in different colors.

Bitter mellon at its early stages. 

Lemon grass 

 This strawberry was planted by my daughter 2-3 years ago
and it keeps growing back in this container.

 Japanese eggplant

 This year, we planted the "Patio" variety 
which is compact and is good for containers

Green and red bell peppers

This hardy decorative grass, planted 3 years ago, has grown back
 in this container year after year.

Flowers that our kids arranged and planted this year

My six year old planted these onions and they should be ready for
harvesting in a few weeks!