Grow Nutritious Foods in a Container Garden

Tips and advice for growing vegetables in containers for a healthy lifestyle.

| Spring 2015

Don’t let a lack of time or space get in the way of gardening your way to a healthful lifestyle. Plant a container of nutritious vegetables and herbs. Include a few planters on the front porch, back patio, or right outside the kitchen door.

All that’s needed is some potting mix, fertilizer, plants, and containers with drainage holes. A 15- to 24-inch-diameter pot or 24- to 36-inch-long window box is a good starting size. Bigger containers hold more plants and moisture longer, so they can be watered less frequently.

Check containers daily, and water thoroughly as needed. Self-watering pots need less frequent watering, allowing busy gardeners and travelers the opportunity to grow plants in pots with minimal care.

Fill the containers with a well-drained potting mix. Read the label on the container mix bag. Add a slow-release organic nitrogen fertilizer, such as Milorganite, at the time of planting for better results with less effort, as it provides small amounts of nutrients throughout most of the season and eliminates the need to mix and water in fertilizer throughout the growing season. Sprinkle a bit more on the soil surface midseason or when changing out your plantings.

Mix colorful flowers with nutritious vegetables for attractive, healthy results. Bright Lights Swiss Chard, pansies (their flowers are edible), colorful leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes and trailing ivy make a great cool-season combination. Fresh-from-the-container-garden vegetables make the best-tasting salads, and the greens provide vitamins A and C, as well as calcium. Use the pansy flowers to dress up a salad, or freeze them in ice cubes for a gourmet touch to beverages.

For summer, use a tomato, pepper, eggplant or peas, beans, and cucumbers trained on a trellis. All are packed full of nutrients and make a great vertical accent. Surround the towering vegetables with purple basil, tri-color sage, carrots, beets, and a colorful trailing annual such as verbena, lantana or bidens.

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