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Is anyone still home?

I'm thinking about summertime, and gardening. I have a lousy garden for an honest-to-gosh veg patch, but I'm happy to container garden. I'm starting to think about what I'd like, and what I can realistically do, and I'm probably months behind the seasoned gardeners, who already have their seeds started and such.

We eat sweet peppers, and they're "container-able". Ditto some tomatoes - apparently there are species that even like hanging baskets. We eat a lot of raspberries but they don't seem to make the list of good candidates. Strawberries, however, will apparently respond to this treatment. Salad greens. Spinach? Does anyone know if spinach works? Herbs. Onions? Can you grow onions or shallots in a container?

I'm tempted to try a rubbish bin potato experiment. Anyone ever done this?

Thoughts and ideas welcome, if anyone's out there ....

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On February 21st, 2010 11:56 am (UTC), little_cinnamon commented:
Yay! Good to see someone posting here again!

I do container gardening, too, what with this being a rented place and everything. I did my first experimental run last years, with mixed results; I think failures were more down to me than the containers!

I did spinach in containers - I think I should have used a bigger container, and I also didn't pick it quickly enough and it bolted, but other than that, it should work. Radishes should also work, but are pretty space-intensive for not very much produce. One of the biggest successes was the pot of spring onions - that definitely worked! Tomatoes definitely work. I had a pot of mixed oregano and thyme outside, plus several of soft herbs (basil, parsley, dill, mint) inside. Rocket grew very very easily - in retrospect, I'd have probably used a shallower pot for that.

We also had a couple of growbags - great for this sort of thing. We got one cucumber of our cucumber plant (again, I think failures were mostly down to mmy inexperience). This year I'll be trying some squashes, beetroot, and carrots, too - and strawberries (we already have the blackberry patch that ate Chicago, but it would be nice to get some variety!) I'd also love to give sweetcorn a try...

Do you want any seeds? We have more than we can use in our tiny space. I can send some via D next weekend...

Also, I don't think you're months behind - sowing time is usually February/March for most things, so you're bang on time! And with the weather we've been having, probably early at that...
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On February 21st, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC), bardling commented:
The only thing I've tried is tomatoes, and that worked pretty well, even for an inexperienced and sometimes inattentive non-gardener like me. I bet it could've worked even better with a little better care on my part. I'm hoping, if I get moved quickly enough to dabble a little again this year, but obviously I'll be way later than you are.
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On February 21st, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC), spiritdance commented:
Things I've grown in containers/raised beds:
Tomatoes
Peppers
Carrots (raised bed only)
Marigolds
Parsnips (RBO)
Radishes (RBO)
Green Beans (RBO)
Pumpkins/winter squash
Cucumbers
Watermelons
Summer squash (zucchini/courgettes)
Lettuce
Spinach
Basil, Thyme, Sage - lots of different annual herbs, actually :)

For the watermelon, winter squash, and cucumbers, choosing a "bush" variety makes a big difference, as does letting them trail out of the container.

Choosing smaller varieties of tomatoes & peppers (plant size, not fruit size) - or varieties developed for container gardening - helps. They also generally work better with one plant per container (I co-planted herbs with the tomatoes to save on total number of containers, and that worked pretty well).

I actually had better success with root vegetables in the raised beds two years ago than last year in our community plot - probably because I made a fairly loose mix for the raised beds, and the soil in the community plot had a fairly high clay content (and locally it was a cold, wet year in 2009).

Raised beds are fairly easy to put together, and can be used in a limited space - think of them as containers on steroids :) Everything listed above was in my raised beds plus a few pots in 2008 - literally at my back door, making it easy to get to and care for.

A good source for info on intensive/container gardening is Square Foot Gardening. The author is online at http://www.squarefootgardening.com/

You're not too late to get started. I'm just now starting to hit seed starting times for Iowa (we're about 12 weeks before last frost) - time to plant seeds for onions, celery, and celeriac. None of these are things I'm likely to grow from seed :). Next planting date on the schedule is March 13. I'm going by the dates given at http://bioarray.us/Skippy%27s%20planting%20calendar.html - it makes my life easier :)
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On February 21st, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC), stevieannie commented:
I was determined that this was going to be the year I got my act together, but ... well... I'll just do my best, and I haven't even started that yet!

I'd recommend "leaf beet", also called "perpetual spinach", which tastes much the same, but is way easier to grow and doesn't bolt like regular spinach. I've not done it in a container, but I think it would probably do really well.

As for bin potatoes - I always put my potato peelings in the compost and I can't stop the dratted things from growing there! So, yes, I've done container spuds, but rather unwittingly :-) They still taste good though...

I'm going to try carrots in containers this year - my soil is too clay for them to grow big otherwise, and we do love to eat them.
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On February 21st, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC), tattercoats commented:
Good to read, all of you!

I reckon anything copes in a container so long as it's got enough rootspace, so it comes down to have some idea how big the plants in question will grow.

Besides that, lots of things can be eaten small and sweet, before they get big enough to outgrow their rootspace.

Spring? Nowhere near. I've done next to nothing in my patch this year yet - ground too hard and cold, frost most nights, and I don't think we've necessarily seen the last of the snow... but when it comes 'our murdered dreams shall wake, and when it comes all the mute birds shall sing' as the song says.
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On February 21st, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC), aunty_marion commented:
Ordinary onions might grow in a large-ish container, but spring onions should be OK. You can get varieties of carrot that are specifically designed/bred for containers - usually the smaller ball-shaped ones, though there's at least one variety I've seen (forget the name, alas) that's very long and thin, so you can grow it in a bucket or similar. Tomatoes, as you've spotted, are excellently suited. I haven't tried potatoes in a bin, but they apparently do work - about a foot of compost in the bottom, then the seed potatoes, covered, and just keep adding more soil/compost as they grow up through till the bin is nearly full.
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