spring planting time

Despite the minimal success of our vegetable pots last year, I am determined to try again and do better this year.  I’ve been reading and planning all winter, and I’m betting on a few main changes to the strategy this year:

1. NO MIRACLE GROW.  I’ve heard nothing but bad things about miracle grow potting mix from everyone I’ve talked to, and all of our veggies were potted in that last year.  So this year I’m going with the Fafard brand recommended by the local nursery.

2. FERTILIZER. I did nothing but water last year.  The book I have swears by the slow-release fertilizer that you add at the time of planting. Sounds easy enough, so that’s strategy number 2.

3. CHEAP POTS. We went all out last year buying huge pots, but I know I’m still going to want to add some more this year.  I’ve been brainstorming all winter about where one can get super cheap, but still giant, containers to be used as pots.  I was inspired by Pamela Crawford’s container gardening book in which she uses big plastic drink tubs for her veggies – they’re only $5 at party supply stores!  I also found some $4 peat baskets to stuff full of flowers and veggies.

So today was planting day, and as usual I was racing against the sun to get it all done.  Hauling those bags of potting soil up four flights of stairs seemed like enough work for the day in itself!  But here’s a first look at the candidates for 2011!

I’m adding some flowers into the mix this year, to help attract pollinators (shh…I am in denial that this means bees…), and to make things pretty.  the yellow pot in front has some cucumbers, red peppers, coleus, and some pink flowers I’ve already forgotten the name of.  In back are some leeks (which I accidentally bought as a present for Alia because she always makes spinach and fennel soup.  How is that relevant, you ask?  Well, it’s not, unless you think fennel and leeks are the same thing), and some dill, chives, and several kinds of lettuce. The silver bucket was just a convenient place to throw the pansies that were inconveniently planted in one of my large pots because I couldn’t wait to play in the dirt until the frost danger passed.  I expect they’ll die, since I didn’t even plant them, but just sort of threw them in there.  In the white pot I planted an unexpected find – edamame!  I’ve never heard of anyone growing it in a container, but I’m always up for trying something new.  And how cool would it be if I managed to grow edamame?!

My favorite part of the process was making these double-tiered hanging baskets. I cut holes into the sides of the basket and planted cherry tomatoes all around the sides, and then added basil, nasturtium, rosemary, and some coleus to the top.  I can’t believe how much I managed to fit into this basket!

In the second one I planted strawberries in the side holes (picked up at a local farm sale), and spinach on top, then added some sweet potato vine and celosia to fill it in.

This summer’s garden also starring (not pictured): green & yellow pole beans, cucumber, green & yellow zucchini, watermelon (!), two tomato plants, a hanging orange cherry tomato, and black beauty eggplant.

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