Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Container Gardening: The Plan, Part I

Spring has definitely sprung here in Nebraska. Most of the trees are flowering now, and petals fill the air when the wind gusts. The beautiful change in scenery - vibrant green grass, blossoms all around - has livened up my morning walks with Cooper.

As warmer weather approaches, we’re gathering supplies and getting ready to start some seeds for our container garden. Working with a small space means we have to plan everything very carefully so it will all fit. Here’s what we’re looking at so far.

The Seed List
Seed packets
We will be planting, and attempting to cultivate, all of the following. A few of these have gotten a head start or trial run on our windowsill garden. Most of these specific plants and varieties were selected because they are supposed to perform well in container gardens.

- Basil (sweet Italian, fino verde, cinnamon, lemon, and dark purple opal varieties)
- Dill
- Mint
- Parsley
- Cilantro
- Chives

- Rainbow Swiss Chard
- Spinach
- Tom Thumb lettuce
- Buttercrunch lettuce
- Blue Curled Scotch Kale

Other vegetables:
- Black Krim tomatoes
- Bush beans (Contender and Royal Burgundy varieties)
- Ronde de Nice zucchini
- Pattypan/Golden Scalloped squash
- Danvers Half-Long carrots
- Nutri-Red carrots
- Little Fingers eggplant
- Red Belgian peppers (sweet)

The Space

That is a LOT of things to try to grow on one tiny deck! The space we plan to use on our deck is 4 feet by 5 feet. (The whole deck is about 13 feet by 5 feet, and houses a grill and a small table.) We’re trying to make the most of the space in a few ways. First, we’re using straight-sided containers for the largest plants (more on that in Part II). Second, we’re using a wire shelving unit to make use of vertical space to grow lettuces and herbs. Third, we invested in a few railing planters to further use all available space. (Most railing planters won’t work on our deck, because it has thin metal rails rather than a thick wooden rail, so it took some searching and splurging to obtain these.)

The other challenge that our deck presents is that it is covered. This means it does not get tons of direct sunlight. In the morning, it gets direct sun from the east, but overhead sun doesn’t happen. This will undoubtedly affect some of the plants more than others, and is part of the reason this year is so experimental. Some plants just might not like living on our deck.  The plants that need the most sun will go along the railing, where they will get the most light, and more shade-tolerant plants will live on other parts of the deck.

Next time, in The Plan, Part II, we’ll discuss containers and soil. 

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