Thursday, May 24, 2007

'Flowers' you say?

Okay, so up to this point I’ve talked about gardening in the most commonly thought of format, that is, in a bed. However, some of you may not have the space or time to dig up half your lawn and fill it with veggies, but you still want veggies. Alas, what to do? Well, go out and get yourself some planters!

That’s right, now you don’t have an excuse not to garden and you can grow veggies that are just as tasty as the ones that are grown in a bed. So, first thing first, get yourself a planter. Any kind will do but unless you happen to be Superman or Popeye I highly recommend the plain old plastic variety because they’re cheap, durable and are lighter making them easier to clean out at the end of the season. You can grow just about anything in a planter that you would in a garden bed including tomatoes, bush cucumbers, bush beans, peppers, eggplant, squash, pole beans, etc. Also, if you’re going to grow some type of vining plant (like pole beans) do yourself a favour and invest in some bamboo poles or the plants will grow wildly out of control and wrap around everything they can, like your grandmother who fell asleep in the patio chair next to the planter. Nothing’s worse than having to untangle aged relatives from a vegetable with ambitions of world domination.

I'm not growing any veggies in planters this year (at least not yet ;) ) so for this portion I’m going to be planting flowers. The same planting process applies to veggies and I’ll make notes along the way of anything that may be different. Let’s get started...

As you can see, I’ve filled my planter with some composted manure, about half way full. If you’re growing veggies I would probably increase the amount of composted matter to 2/3 because veggies are heavier feeders than flowers. I’ve then added a layer (about 2 inches deep) of potting soil with vermiculite.

In the above shot I’ve shown a close up of the potting soil and the little white chunks, those are vermiculite in case you were wondering what the heck I was talking about. As mentioned in a previous gardening post, vermiculite is a common organic additive that is put in potting soils to help them retain moisture longer. It's there to help cut down on the frequency with which you’ll have to water your planters.

In the picture above I’ve added a layer of enriched topsoil (although any topsoil will do) over top of the potting soil just to fill er’ up. Be sure not to fill your pot right to the top as at some point, probably after about 3-4 weeks of your plants growing, you’ll have to top up your soil around the base of the plants for added stability. Shown below are the flowers I'll be planting (which will be divided between 2 pots):

For those that were wondering, the flowers I’ll be planting are draecena (I know I’ve spelled that wrong) spikes, Blue Moon petunias and variegated Swedish ivy. The spikes are a centrepiece, the petunias are my filler and the Swedish ivy is my cascading plant which all makes up for a nice little decorative planter.

Above you can see the final product. Sure, it looks sparse now but in a few weeks it’ll start to fill out and before I know it I’ll be wishing I hadn’t planted so much in the planter. When that happens I’ll be sure to take another picture to show you just what I mean...I get carried away sometimes.

Anyhoo, so that’s Planter Gardening 101. Like I said, it’s basically the same thing for veggies with the exception that I would most likely add more composted manure to make sure that there are enough nutrients in the soil. Also, be sure to water your planters twice a day. This is especially important for veggies to make sure that the veggies themselves grow nice and plump. After all, nobody wants to eat a sorry looking tomato.

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