Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lessons Learned with Container Gardening

Last spring this was a beautiful scene from my deck planter, peas climbing up the mesh trellis, lettuce growing among pansies left over from winter. I was so proud of this combination and I had great plans for a successive summer and fall planting. At least in my head.

This is that planter at the end of August.

It's not bad, I had succumbed to a few annuals when plant shopping and they mixed up nice. The pansies from last winter have dwindle to one. A lone tomato plant is on the right. The Master Gardeners left free plants at the garden, so I grabbed this one. "Goliath" supposedly over 3' tall never made it over a foot.

While I did plant morning glory seeds (which never grew) I didn't have a plan for the plants that would replace the spring cool weather plants. When they started dying off I was busy with the community garden and came up short on what I could do to fill in the planter.

The same thing happened with the railing planters. I was very proud of the lettuce, chard, radish mix. But should have been a lot more liberal with the nasturtiums. 

All the radish, but 3 bolted and when the lettuce was done I wasn't ready with a replacement. So I finally took them down off of the railing and set them under the flower baskets for easier watering. This looks bad, even worse it's what I see from the house.

The photo below shows my upper deck in all it's splendor: flower baskets after the geraniums have puttered out, the railing planters with token nasturtium, and my container with trellis unused and one tiny vegetable plant. It's really not what I imagined in spring.

The 3 things that I can see in hindsight will have to be addressed next year.
1) I need a plan with 3 plant ideas for spring, summer and fall.
2) The community garden took priority and I just ignored the seasonal progression here.
3) I stopped spending money on plants, which means I stopped shopping at nurseries, even to browse. I can go crazy at a garden center and do more damage there than in a shoe store. But, if I plan ahead and decide on which plants I want in these containers I can budget for them and make a series of smaller purchases. It sounds good anyway.

You might have noticed the plant on the table to the right. This year I bought a "patio" tomato, not really knowing anything about it except that it is compact. Now I know that it is quite ugly and whoever designed a tomato for a patio might remember that it should look good.

Despite looking gangly (I've been removing leaves) it has produced fruit and managed to grow taller than the "Goliath" tomato. But this plant will not be on my list next year.

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