Posts tagged container gardening

Thrillers, fillers and spillers

        How fun is this asks Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith… my thirty-something daughter has decided for the first time in her adult life to plant (albeit small) a vegetable garden.  It’s for “the kids” (?)  She told me that when she and her brother were kids how they liked to eat things right out of the garden.  She says she liked peas and her brother ate radishes and onions until we caught them and made them come to the house to wash what they had picked.  They don’t seem to be the worse for wear now, though.  And, then we remember putting cages around our tomatoes, not to keep them upright, but because the Golden Retriever loved ripe tomatoes!  Oh!  Those were the good old days. 

       Those of you who don’t have much space for gardening may be interested in the following article from Master Gardener Gloria Johnson on Combinations for Vegetable and Flowering Containers.

        Gloria says:  With the right size container, adequate sun, and consistent watering and fertilizing, many vegetables and flowering annuals and perennials can be grown in pots.   Pick a color theme, culinary theme, or a nonsensical theme and let your imagination run wild. Combinations created in container gardening can be refreshing and magical.  For a great combination remember to have a “thriller” (a tall dramatic plant), a “filler” (a middle size plant), and a “spiller” (a plant that drapes over the sides) in each container.

        Tomatoes make great thriller plants for a container.  Insert the largest and heaviest metal cage you can buy (I attached mine to the deck railing for extra sturdiness).  A great cherry tomato is the “Sweet 100” and it does very well in a container.  For a larger tomato, the “Big Boy” or “Better Boy” does well.  I use my containers on the deck to try out some of the heirloom tomatoes which occasionally require some extra attention.  I have had good luck with “Brandywine” and “Mr. Stripy”.

      For the filler, I use herbs such as chives, basil, cilantro, and bush celery.  I have added annuals such as marigolds, straw flower, and miniature zinnias to brighten and add color to the container.

      For the spiller, I have used trailing herbs, nasturtiums and petunias.  It is beneficial to use plants for the fillers and spillers that can tolerate dry conditions.

      I only put one tomato plant in a container and I do not combine tomatoes and peppers in the same pots.   For the pepper pot, I would use the pepper plant as the thriller and then a complimentary herb as the filler and a flowering annual as the spiller.

     A salsa garden of Roma tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño peppers, chives and green onions or an Italian garden with Roma tomatoes, basil, oregano and chives make great combinations.  Or, how about a pot full of mints such as Pineapple Sage, Mint Julep (for that afternoon iced tea), spearmint, orange mint or chocolate mint (great in chocolate chip cookies!). 

     You will enjoy your vegetable garden no matter what its size.  And can you think of a more pleasurable way to spend your summer than eating what you – or the kids or grandkids – have grown yourself?  And by the way, the container perennials can be transplanted into the ground and enjoyed for years to come.

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Tips on container gardening

Master Gardener Gloria Johnson gives us some timely container gardening tips:

 

    My deck seems so bare with no furniture and no plants, but May 10th is

about the earliest date to safely start planting in Northern Linn County. 

My house plants are eager to share the outdoors with my container annuals and

two tomato plants.

     Container gardening works so well for a patio or deck.  With so many

folks living in apartments and condos, there are now flowers and vegetables

bred specifically for container gardening.  Check with your garden center when

you purchase plants.

     Following are a few suggestions for effective container gardening:

     Select a container that you can easily handle, but not less

than 15″ in diameter.  Bases on rollers are very convenient.  Choose a style

and color to compliment your home’s exterior.  Use odd numbers of containers,

i.e. one large and two smaller.  Have a drainage hole, but use a screen or even

a coffee filter over it to keep the soil from washing out.

      Know how much sun or shade the plant will receive during the

day and purchase plants accordingly.

      A good potting soil mixture is equal parts of garden loam,

course sand and peat moss.  Do not use regular garden soil as you may

introduce pests and disease into the planter.

      Daily watering is a basic necessity.  Early morning is best,  

but if you must water in the evening remember that foliage that doesn’t dry

out overnight can produce fungal diseases.  Revive a wilting plant by

immersing the entire plant in water until no air bubbles are visible then

place the plant in a shady spot while it perks up.

      A layer of mulch is an attractive method of retaining

moisture and also decreases splashing when watering.

      Deadheading (removing dead and wilted flowers) promotes

reblooming. Serious pruning in late summer will eliminate “leggy” plants.

      You are limited only to your imagination, determination

and resources, but if have you have questions, call the Master Gardener

Horticulture Hotline at 319-447-0647. 

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Great combinations

Two upcoming gardening events where you can learn about container gardening and more:

 

Great Combinations
Wed., April 30, 6:30 PM Register Now!
Join Brucemore gardeners at the Brucemore Visitor Center for a 90 minute discussion on theories of great planting combinations for containers, the garden, and the landscape. Deb Engmark and David Morton will analyze the tried and true, latest trends in color, texture, and garden design. They will show you how to apply what you learn at Brucemore to your gardens at home.

Admission: $10/adult and $7/Brucemore member. Reservations required. Call (319) 362-7375 to reserve a spot.

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Containers with Pizzazz for Decks & Balconies with Mike Duggan Wyatt – Class will be in the Hy-Vee Garden Center, 5050 Edgewood Road NE, Cedar Rapids.

Saturday, May 17, 10 to 11 am.

Bring your lawn chair and garden gloves and listen to master gardener, Mike Duggan, as he shares his expertise regarding appropriate plants best suited for containers and how to maintain them. Then you will plant your own container to take home. Containers will be available for purchase or bring your own container (up to a 12” pot). The class fee will cover soil, plants and instruction. $20.  Pre-register at Customer Service, 319-378-0762.

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