I found a GREAT list of plants that do well in containers and are therefore really good for urban gardeners. Thanks to Urban Gardening Help for this information. This is only a bit of it so I encourage you to click over and see the multitude of resources available for urban gardeners-and those of us who love container plants.
Here is a starter list of flowers and veggies that do well in containers and some specifics on each one. Very cool!
- Echinacea is a terrific urban garden plant and has an appealing daisy-like bloom. It is also a medicinal plant and you can use it to make an immunity-building tincture.
- Zinnias add easy color to your container garden.
- Portulaca is available in many different colors and looks great spilling out of hanging baskets.
- Trailing annuals such as Petunias work well with larger, more vertical plants placed in the background.
- Tulip bulbs are a favorite for container gardening.
- Begonia is a beautiful flower for hanging baskets.
- Lily of the Nile in the dwarf size is great for small containers.
- Daffodils are flowers grown from bulbs that will provide long-lasting color.
- Lantana makes a colorful addition to your urban garden and will change color as the growing season progresses.
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a beautiful daisy-like flower that can grow up to 3 feet tall. They love the sun and work well with low-lying grow covers.
Fruits and Vegetables:
- Window Box Roma’ tomato works well in pots and will grow to a manageable size.
- Radishes grow quickly and easily in container and grow at a shallow soil depth.
- Carrots are available in miniature varieties. ‘Kinko’ and ‘Oxheart’ are excellent for small spaces.
- Some citrus plants such as kumquats grow very well in containers and indoors.
- ‘Tumbler’ tomatoes grow in vines and grow in hanging container gardens. Tomatoes are a staple of Italian cooking supplies.
- Make use of your vertical space by planting climbing vegetables such as peas and beans.
- Squash such as zucchini and sunburst do well in small spaces and can also grow up over vertical features of your urban garden.
- Several varieties of cucumbers exist for growing in small spaces. Ask your local nursery for advice.
- Figs grow great in containers, but make sure you use a durable container to keep the roots from breaking out.
Well, I am feeling the crunch-and a little panic. How about you? We’ve had two bouts of serious, POURING rain already and one windstorm. My garden survived and I hope yours did too. The sunny season is never long enough for me here in the northwest and although my mom says that I am an ideal candidate to move to Arizona, I don’t think I could handle life without the evergreens either.
So forgive my “crunch-mind”. One thing that seems to disappear with the fall and winter weather are some of the really good outdoor garden events and classes. Well, there aren’t as many of course. So in an effort to get you out there (along with myself) and get some good healthy doses of fun, sun and garden education, I will be offering more class listings this month and next before they all blow away.
On the docket today is a wonderful nursery called DIG on Vashon Island in Washington. As many of you know, Vashon is only accessible only by ferry but you can get there via Port Orchard/Southworth, Tacoma, West Seattle and Downtown Seattle ferry runs. It is well worth a visit. Owners Sylvia Matlock and Ross Johnson also recently opened their home and acreage for garden tours to the excitement of major news and media outlets. I agree- seeing the results of their hard work is pure delight. Consider a day trip before the sun goes away.
While you are at DIG, check out the September classes. Here is a listing:
- 9/8 at 1:00 PM- Autumn Accolades with Sylvia Matlock. Learn about the best container plants for fall and winter color.
- 9/15 at 1:00 PM- Veggies and Tulips with Sylvia Matlock. Discover favorite bulbs and the ones everyone will be clamoring for next spring.
- 9/16 at 1:00 PM- Flagstone with Ross Johnson. Learn the best way to prep the ground, place the stone and install flagstone.
- 9/22 at 1:00 PM- Seasonal Gardening with Sylvia Matlock. Offers planting ideas for special plants that give something extra to your garden for every season of the year, including winter and fall. (guess I need this one!)
- 9/23 at 1:00 PM- Pruning for Spring Extravaganza with Sylvia Matlock. $25.00 fee includes a pair of pruners. Watch a demonstration on how to prune and clean up those fading perennials and shrubs and expose your garden’s architectural elements. Practice on DIG’s border garden.
By the way, DIG has a very cool landscaping questionnaire that you can print out and complete to help you plan your initial or ongoing landscape. It’s specific and I would definitely use it if I was in the planning stage of any landscaping.
I’m off to get some sun!
Candy Clark, famous for her Oscar-nominated, Best Supporting Actress role in “American Graffiti”, has been in several additional movies and has guest-starred in many television series including “Magnum PI” and “Baywatch Nights”. She may have little or nothing to learn about acting-but something in her backyard is teaching her a serious lesson.
Every year is different in her garden.
“Last year my garden was fantastic.” She says, ”I planted in soil that had not been used in 30 years as there had been a brick patio on top of the soil…This year, I thought I could just put plants in the same spots as last year and they would be fantastic. I spent lots of money on organic tomato plants, squash plants, pepper plants. I spent numerous hours labeling, adding cages and watering them in. I didn’t turn the soil, I didn’t add steer manure, or any fertilizer for that matter and I got NOTHING. This has taught me a valuable lesson. You have to feed the garden before it feeds you!”
In spite of that tough lesson, Candy continues to grow “because she likes to eat and also cut flowers from the yard”. The rewards extend even further-she admits that gardening is relaxing-and she enjoys getting back in touch with the earth and helping to provide food for her neighbors.
Candy has several fav flowers and it is difficult for her to choose the top one between them. Included on the list are zinnias-because they were grown in her grandmother’s garden and roses-because they come in so many beautiful soft colors. She attends flower club meetings local to her home and recently placed nine grapevines along her lattice fence. She hopes for a large yield of grapes to share someday.
“It’s a very satisfying hobby in every way and I recommend it to anyone, young or old.” She exclaims, “I love it!”
Dear Flora-I just started a compost pile. I haven’t planted anything yet and don’t even know if I will. But we are a family of five and I do want to reduce our garbage. I have a bin with a lid that turns. How do I make sure that I am doing it right?
You are almost there. What are you going to do with your compost? Consider adding it to your beds that you already have or offering it to your neighbors if you aren’t going to use it yourself. As far as reducing garbage, a noble thought (thank you!), make sure that you are recycling everything possible at your curb first. Then, a compost pile is the next logical step. Here are Flora’s rules for composts:
- Compost only food items that come directly from the ground. In other words, things that grow. Use peelings, roots and leftovers of these items. No meat, grease or starches.
- Compost other items only if they are biodegradable, such as dissolving plates marked for going into compost.
- Compost yard debris such as leaves and grass. (Note: if you do use compost for food gardening later on, be aware of any pesticides or weed killers used on the grass before adding). Layer these with the food. Dirt is good too.
- Turn your bin once a month or so and add a little water.
- Keep the lid on to reduce the smell.
For those of you who don’t have a turning bin, I recommend that you get one as it makes mixing so much easier on your back. But if you can’t, that’s OK. A large garbage can with a lid and a shovel works well. I’ve even seen some compost piles made out of a wire fencing shaped into a circle.
So there are multitudes of ways that we creatively add more space in our urban gardens. And some of these you don’t hear a lot about-like the Japanese Tomato Ring. The accounts that I have read bring up a good point-the tomato that springs up in the compost pile is often better than the ones we have babied in a pot. And although availability to nutrients must play a role, Daniel E. Mullins, an Extension Horticultural Agent with Santa Rosa County, suggests that we can recreate that same environment and save big-time on space with a Japanese Tomato Ring. A 3-foot wide cage will allow room for 4 plants to be evenly spaced.
How to Make a Tomato Ring:
- Purchase a 10 foot long piece of concrete reinforcing wire. It should be 5 feet wide with a 6 inch mesh size.
- Join the ends together and tie them securely, making a cage.
- Choose a sunny, 6 foot diameter space.
- Spade and turn the soil in that area to about 8 inches deep.
- Smooth area and add 6 inches of compose.
- Stand the wire cylinder upright on top of the first layer of compost and secure the base with short stakes.
- Sprinkle one-fourth cupful of dolomite lime and the same amount of a balanced garden fertilizer over the surface of the compost.
- Add a 6 inch deep layer of leaves, followed by another layer of compost, plus lime and fertilizer.
- Continue alternating layers of leaves and compost until the material on the inside of the wire reaches a minimum height of two and one-half feet. The top layer should consist of leaves. Shape the top layer so that it is concave, with the center being about 2 inches lower than the outside edge.
- Place a cupful of fertilizer on the surface of the top layer of leaves, in the center of the pile. Water from the top in order to thoroughly soak the pile.
- Set tomato plants in the ground on the outside, and within 2 inches of the base of the wire.