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Published on May 02, 2018

container gardening

Planning To Plant a Mini Veggie Garden

To say I lack horticultural skills is an understatement. I have actually never successfully kept a plant alive for more than two months.

However, there’s a first time for everything, and this spring will be my first attempt at a vegetable garden. I am bringing readers of this blog along for the ride, regardless if things turn out good, bad or embarrassing. In the spirit of disclosure, no part of this article comes from my background knowledge in the field of horticulture, but has been gleaned from online articles and conversations with green-thumbed members of my social circle. Because I am a novice I will not be digging up a large portion of my backyard, but will instead start small, using pots.

What Pots to Use

My advisers have assured me that vegetables will grow in just about anything from flower pots to five-gallon buckets, washtubs, large food cans, pails or even window planters.

I will beware of dark-colored pots and realize clay pots require more watering. I really lucked out because I can utilize some discarded 24-inch square, 12-inch deep white plastic bins. They were good enough for some of the hospital surgical equipment to be transported in, so they should be good for plants.

One coworker somewhat sarcastically commented that I would have to put in some type of drainage, which I had actually considered. When I informed my team leader I would be keeping them on my deck, she pointed out that I would need to prop them up a little to keep my deck from rotting due to the constant moisture. I had not thought of that – thanks for the tip!

The current plan is to keep the planters on my west-facing back deck, as it’s safe from bunnies, convenient for watering and it receives the six hours of direct sunlight most container-grown vegetables require.

Filling the Pots – Making Choices

Long before I choose my plants, I know I need to give them soil, and my plan is to use a potting mix. Some of my reading suggested that it’s not the best option as these soils can degrade quickly and would need annual replacement.

But who are we kidding? My veggie garden will be lucky to survive one year, so I think it will work for me.

My understanding is that if I blend equal parts peat moss, potting soil, vermiculite and perlite, I’ll save money. This seems risky, however, due to my skill level. The containers are to be filled with potting mix within an inch or two of the rim, and each should be well-watered and allowed to drain just prior to planting.

What I’ll (Hopefully) Grow

The current plan is to plant carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, green onions and peppers. I will require significant assistance from a green-thumbed friend (or a knowledgeable sales associate) when the time comes to officially shop for plants. Perhaps my carrots can help me with a recipe like the one below.

I know just the sheer number of plant options, not to mention the appropriate cages or growing apparatuses, will be overwhelming, but I’ll manage.

Apparently it’s common knowledge in the horticultural community that Mother’s Day is the best time for planting. I guess that is what I will be doing to celebrate this year.

I’ll keep you updated on my planting, how my plan unfolds and whether or not I can get some delicious produce to thrive on my deck as the summer unfolds.

Wish me luck!

Apple Carrot Salad

Makes six servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 medium) unpared and diced apples
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ⅛ cup low-fat mayonnaise

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Chill thoroughly.
  3. Serve on salad greens.

Each serving provides 110 calories, 1 gram fat, 0 miligrams cholesterol, 140 miligrams sodium, 25 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams dietary fiber, 20 grams sugar and 1 grams protein.

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