I do hope that the garden is coming along well. So far, I think that other than the need for a little rain, the weather is cooperating with us. If you haven’t completed your planting, this week is a good one to finish the job. By mid-June, vendors are trying to cut their inventories, and sales that will continue through the rest of the month have begun. Sure, prices will continue to drop, but so too will selection and quality. I would not wait too long.
But now, a few words about patio and even balcony gardening. Over the centuries, we have seen the use of containers as garden accents rise and fall in popularity. There were times in ancient Rome when every residence had plants in pots, not only in the house in wintertime but in outside living areas during the warm weather. I think that container gardening peaked during the Victorian era in England. It comes and goes, and right now it is in.
Today, we are seeing container plants everywhere. Now I have a lot of space at my home and aside from a bed of marigolds by the side of the house, one of salvia and another of begonias in the backyard and a planting along the north fence, everything else is in pots, urns or vases. My favorite pot is a cycad. It is a plant that has survived from prehistoric times, a very large plant with very hard, fern-like leaves, each nearly 4 feet long. It is a magnificent specimen and took 20 years to get to this size. I also have a couple of olive trees; they have never given one olive, but they are good-looking. My kumquat in a 20-inch pot is very generous with fruit during the winter season. But I’ve not been able to keep a potted fig tree in the garden because as the fruit begins to develop, squirrels seem to think that they are nuts. Many of these plants can be overwintered in a well-lit garage.
But most of us will want to do container gardening on a smaller scale, say a 12-inch pot of petunias or geraniums. Just think of all the color they will bring to your living area beside or behind the house. Some of us will branch out and get larger pots and fill them with a collection of various summer annuals. Again: lots of color, near the house and at a very low cost. I have seen beautiful gardens in large pots, half-barrels and even in an old-fashioned water heater, cut lengthwise in half and painted a beautiful green with enamel paint. The opportunities are endless. There is still time to get the project going so that it will reward you with a lot of color and enjoyment.
But let us not stop there. There is a whole other part of container gardening to liven up the senses. Many of us keep a few herbs on the kitchen counter during the winter months. It is a whole lot better than to have to run to the supermarket to buy a $4 or $5 bunch of parsley or basil or whatever, when you need only a sprig or a few leaves.
With just a few pots in the garden, you can produce a crop so large that you will have enough to even dry some in the oven for use all winter. I’ve just finished planting my herbs and vegetables in pots. This year, I have cut back to only four varieties of basil in 12-inch pots. You will also find pots of thyme, sage, society garlic, rosemary and more. While you can grow nearly every vegetable in pots, I sort of limit my choices to three nice varieties of cherry tomatoes, some watercress and jalapeno peppers.
Container gardens are a great hobby. In just a few feet of space, we can get the same enjoyment of producing beauty and food that we once got from that huge garden.
Have some fun this summer. Plant your garden in pots.