container gardening

One of the easiest ways to start gardening is to garden in a small pot.   Even if you live in an apartment, you can grow a whole variety of edible plants  I love to cook so some of my favourites are herbs, Tiny Tim  tomatoes, or  beans.

I remember one apartment I had years ago where I grew beans as a privacy screen,    I had a corner balcony where there was a neighbouring building about 15 feet away.  The person across from me used their balcony as a garbage dump- as soon as I walked to the south edge, I was looking at piles of recycling  and green bags. I  strung up a grid of twine along the South side of my balcony- I planted the beans in a window box- they grew all the way up the lattice- it was fantastic.  Not only did i have a privacy screen,  I had an edible wall.

The lattice  was super easy to build- I ended up  hammering  nails  about every 4 inches to frame the opening, from there I took  cotton twine  and began winding it vertically along the nails, working my way from left to right.   I then did the same thing horizontally top to bottom and tied off the string.    In late May, I used a window box to plant the beans 2 inches apart, and within 12 days saw the first seed leaves poking through the soil.   By the end of July I had a thick green wall that was also producing beans and flowers.

Another easy one is herbs.   My favourite herb to grow is basil, and if you also have tomatoes growing, there are endless possibilities, from fresh summer salads to rich roasted tomato and basil sauces.  Basil is easy to grow:  fill a pot with basil transplants , plant in a warm sunny  spot and don’t over water.

Each summer I pick up a tray of small basil transplants at the Halifax Farmer’s Market.  I crop the tops off  for a batch of pesto and plant the remaining stalks, this has been the basis for my basil patch each year.

When I use transplants, I take the basil plants and cut off the tops about 3 cm above the first set of leaves.  You can plant about 6 of these plants in a 9” pot.   Within a week you should  see new stems starting to grow  where the leaves join  the main stem.   I let these stems grow another 2 to 3 sets of leaves and then I crop off the tops again.   This will give you a very bushy and attractive planter.   One thing to watch for in august is the flowers forming on the tops of the stems.   As soon as you see the flowers stalks forming, pinch these off.  I find the basil becomes bitter if you allow the plant to produce flowers.

Other herbs I grow in pots on my balcony are rosemary, parsley, chives, sage, oregano and  thyme.   These don’t take up much room, can be combined together in pots and are handy to have close to the kitchen to add fresh flavour to a summer meal.