Small in Space but Big on Taste
7 ideas for crafty container gardens and perfect patio pots
Long a mainstay for green-thumbed apartment dwellers and ultra-urban farmers, container gardening is rapidly becoming the “tiny house movement” of the homegrown veggie set. While herbs and cherry tomatoes in pots may be everyone’s first thought when it comes to out-of-ground edibles, that’s only just the beginning: everything from blueberries and eggplants, to lettuce and sweet peas can be grown in containers. And you don’t need to limit yourself to standard pots, either.
Check out these newest trends in container garden and whet your appetite for something new this spring!
Living walls are very popular right now—especially in places where space is tight. They leave floor space open for walking and seating, and don’t require a ceiling or pergola or shepherd’s hook to hang from.
A slat-wall (like the type typically found in a garage or utility room) is easily customizable and can mount to an exterior wall. Paint it to match your porch décor, or leave it natural wood or white finish. Hooks can be arranged to suit the sizes of your pots and planters. As an added bonus, if you don’t fill the wall entirely with plants, it can do double duty as storage for gardening tools.
A trellis is another option that can be mounted to a wall and used to create a vertical garden.
Right out the window
Put aside the pansies and petunias! Window boxes are an excellent place to plant herbs—meaning fresh eating is right within reach. Try an arrangement of basil varieties for color. Lavender, sage, kale, and swiss chard are also great for visual interest. In addition to being tasty, herbs are cultivated to be cut often so they grow back quickly, and most are fairly low-maintenance.
Not every container or pot needs to be filled with soil. Tabletop aquaponics combines aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) in one integrated system. These mini-aquariums (usually 2-5 gallon size) are self-cleaning fish tanks that grows organic sprouts and herbs. A self-contained ecosystem, the fish feed the plants and plants clean the water—no water changes required for the fish; no watering needed for the plants. A number of systems are available as kits (Back to the Roots Water Garden is one example), or you can make your own with a small aquarium. Popular crops include basil, wheat grass, lettuce, and radish sprouts.
Mix it up
There’s no reason flowers have to be relegated to flower pots and veggies to their garden plots! Container gardening is a great opportunity to let your plants be best friends! Mixing in flowers not only adds color and visual interest, but also attracts pollinators and other beneficial insects, and can help keep the plants healthy and pest free. Marigolds are one great choice, as they are considered effective against nematodes (a common tomato pest) and help deter cabbage worms—the bane of cole-crop gardeners everywhere. And many people swear by their rabbit-deterring properties, as well.
The upcycle trend is spreading! Don’t limit yourself to standard terra cotta or ceramic glazed pots. Get creative with your containers and try repurposing old household items or flea market finds. As long as you can get appropriate drainage and the right size, there’s no limit but your imagination! For large raised beds, try stock tanks from farm/feed supply stores. Give an old wash tub new life with a couple of coats of rust-stop, and a bright paint color.
Hang it up
Not a lot of floor space? Use the ceiling! Many edibles thrive in hanging baskets—tomatoes, herbs, and strawberries make great choices. Select plants like strawberries that have the added bonus of beautiful flowers, and you get an extra pop of color, as well.
For those wanting to combine vertical gardening with upcycling, create a hanging garden out of empty two-liter soda bottles. Check out this article for Balcony Garden Web for more than a dozen different ways to construct one that fits your needs, space, and crop.
Make it mobile
Is getting enough sun a problem? Then make your garden mobile! Containers on dollies or plants in wheelbarrows or other rolling solutions mean you can migrate your garden around the patio, porch, yard, or deck. Movable containers mean you can maximize sun exposure, shield a street view, or even create a bit of temporary privacy.
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