Growing Vegetables and Herbs Without a Garden

I used to know a guy who was into woodworking. One thing that he and his wife liked to do was make these plywood cut outs for the yard. They would trace the outline of a duck or a rooster or a well on the plywood, paint it, and then use a saw to cut out the form. They took out an ad in the local paper and sold them at garage sales and flea markets. The cut outs seemed a little hokey to me, kind of one step up from the pink flamingos of yore. One of their more popular cut outs was that of a farm couple dressed in overalls and bent over like they were working in the garden. The man had a red kerchief hanging out of his back pocket. At the time I had a small garden out back behind my house. I grew a few tomatoes, some peppers, and squash, even though I really didn’t like the squash. The woodcutting couple were always trying to sell me one of the farm couples. I refused, but later I did settle for a small windmill. It was less conspicuous looking and the blades turned when the wind blew and I thought that was cool.

Nowadays I live in an apartment and my gardening days have been over for some time. But recently I found out from the Missouri Botanical Garden that even with limited space, if you have the right container, you can grow just about anything. For those of us who live in apartments, have trouble bending over, or have small backyards without a lot of space, container gardening is the perfect way to enjoy fresh herbs and vegetables all season long.

The best thing to do is to start out with only one or two containers. That way you can determine how much time you have to spend and how many containers you can comfortably handle. The next thing to do is to determine the growing season. Some plants like the summer while others like a cooler time. Most herbs grow better in the summer. Though you can grow almost anything in a container, if you’re just starting out, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are the easiest to grow. Some herbs that you might want to consider are, rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, and dill.

When you are ready to plant don’t forget the essentials. The plants will need plenty of water and sunlight. Facing the containers to the east will offer the most sun while the west is second best. The next thing to consider is the container. Plastic usually works better than clay because they don’t allow the soil to dry out as quickly. Also, if you plan to store your pots outside in the winter, plastic is obviously the best choice. Make sure the containers are large enough for whatever you plan on growing. Bigger is better, and make sure you don’t over plant. Be sure to buy containers with holes in the bottom, or drill them yourself. Vegetables and herbs need good drainage. It’s also a good idea to add some time-release fertilizer after you do your planting. A shot of liquid fertilizer about halfway through the growing season doesn’t hurt either.

Now you are on your way to enjoying fresh herbs and vegetables throughout the season. Be creative with your container garden. Maybe you can get one of those wooden cutouts, but just make sure that it is a small one.

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