On this beautiful Spring day I decided to spend some time creating a container garden. I absolutely love creating gardens in the confined space of a pot. It is easier to see how the plants will highlight each other and provides instant gratification to set something beautiful on a porch, patio or balcony where there was nothing before.
If you haven’t tried container gardening you must give it a try cause I guarantee you’ll have fun!
Today my focus was on creating a pot that contained some edible fare alongside some Spring flare. I purchased a few fun annuals and a variety of vegetable starts and then mixed them together designing a container that has contrasting colors and textures. There are not a lot of flowers in this container but there is a lot of foliage contrast and color interest. The flowers are a wonderful bonus!
I want my new container garden to be attractive the entire season and to host a few edibles that I can harvest for a dinner or two on a lovely early summer evening. In this garden when I harvest an edible such as a lettuce or cabbage, I will dig it and then there will be space to add more interesting summer annuals. I have also included an herb (dill) that I will cut periodically to add to meals and when it gets beyond its prime I will dig it out as well.
I placed a fun annual grass called ‘Fountain Fireworks’ in the middle. This should grow to about 30″tall and become a focal point of the pot. I won’t be digging it out until the season is over. Next I added ‘Dark Angel’ Dahlia and ‘Ruby Perfection’ cabbage to each side of the grass that will grow to about 12-15 inches tall. These will be considered filler plants and will fill in the middle-level of the pot nicely. I will dig the cabbage at some point but will have a spot for another fun filler later in the season. These plants offer color variety although in the same palette but contrast in shape of foliage.
Next I added two romaine lettuces and a few beets called ‘Detroit Supreme.’ I’ve never grown beets before so this will be a new experience but folks at the nursery said the leaves would get quite large and you can cut them periodically to add to salads etc… I liked the color and wanted to try something new so there it is. The romaine lettuce and the beets will also fill the mid-level of the container but should be slightly shorter, to about 8-10 inches. I will dig the lettuces when I harvest but just cut the beets periodically for extra greens and then dig them later.
For high-level contrast, ornamental value and a ‘spill’ effect I added Sedum ‘Ogon.’ It is a beautiful yellow sedum that loves half-full day sun and it will spill over the front edges of the pot as the season advances. I will leave it in the container for the entire season. Lastly, I couldn’t resist planting Dill (Fernleaf) in the back of the pot behind the grass. I’m not sure how this will look over time but I love the soft feathery foliage of it now. If it doesn’t look good later, I’ll remove it but in the meantime will get many cuts for meals requiring fresh Dill.
There you have it, edible fare combined with Spring flare! I can’t wait to watch as my garden grows and will update this post with new photos as it changes. Now, go have some fun potting up your creative ideas!
A few things to think about when planting a container garden:
How many plants needed to fill pot - Depends on types of plants you choose but plan on putting them close together with a little room to fill in.
Growing requirements of plants - Pick plants that have the same light and water needs as they will be “living together” in the same “house.” Read plant labels when picking out co-habitants.
Potting soil - Purchase a high-quality, brand name potting soil. My general rule of thumb for any gardening project is don’t skimp on the soil. A good soil is what makes a great result. I’ve learned this the hard way! Never use garden soil in container gardens. It is too heavy and will not allow the plants roots to breathe and expand in the confined environment of a pot. A good potting soil is much lighter and fluffier than garden soil and is formulated to get your plants growing in the right direction…bigger.
Make it easier - If you have a medium to large size pot consider filling the bottom 1/4 – 1/3 of the pot with a light-weight item such as a plastic milk or juice jug, unused plastic garden pot, aluminum cans or even pumice. This cuts back on the amount of potting soil required for the pot and cuts your expense as the purchased potting soil will go farther. It also reduces the weight of the pot in case it needs to be moved.
General purpose fertilizer - I like to add a little Kelp meal around each plant when planting a container garden. It is a 100% natural, all organic fertilizer comprised of mulched sea weed. It is a renewable resource containing concentrated amounts of vitamins and minerals, including potassium that plants need to really grow. Later on in the season, I use an organic fertilizer that provides a total nitrogen, phosphate, potassium supply for the plants.
Planting - I like to have a small variety of plants to choose from and I lay them out next to each other or in the pot in their containers before planting. I think about several things at this time. First and foremost – contrast. The more contrast you create, especially with plant foliage, the more interesting and eye-catching the pot.
I also like to think about the shape and size of the pot. If you have a pot holding several plants you want to have something with some good height that will provide a focal point. Next, think about plants that can fill the middle space of the container, creating an understory to the focal point. Sometimes these plants are called fillers because that is what they do, fill the middle level of the pot. Lastly, select plants that will “spill” over the rim of the pot. They are the lower level of your container garden and will be very attractive spilling over or draping down the side of your pot.
Once you’ve got your desired arrangement, plant the plants in the container so they are situated slightly beneath the rim of the pot. This way when watering, the potting soil will not run over the sides of the pot creating a mess. Enjoy and remember to water if not hooked up to an automatic drip system.