Fear of having a brown thumb? Well fear no more…Container gardening makes fresh herbs and veggies an easy-to-manage success. This is a great option for people with limited time or space but who still love and value the fresh flavors of the garden.
What can I grow?
Perennial herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic chives, lemongrass etc. can easily grow for years in planter pots on your lanai (to be handy near the kitchen). Annuals like cilantro, basil, lettuces, eggplant, chard, etc. will also do well with the right light and water conditions. You can replant them as needed. Tomatoes will do well if you live in an upper story condo with a fenced patio. I always feel like a pro when I can walk right outside my kitchen and grab a few snips of parsley, a sprig of chives, and a pepper or two as I’m preparing my meals.
How do I grow it?
Here are 8 simple steps to growing a bountiful container garden:
1) Pick your pot
A few things you’ll want to keep in mind when picking your pots. Plants will grow as large as the pot will allow (bigger plants equal a bigger harvest). In a large pot, the soil will also stay damp longer so you may not have to water as frequently. Terra-cotta pots are porous which allows air and water to breathe through the walls which plants enjoy. Decorative clay pots are vibrant and fun to mix and match. In a warm climate like Hawaii don’t choose a metal pot. The sun will heat up the soil and harm your plants.
2) Plan your arrangement
A 24 inch container fits 5-7 seedlings. Plant it like you’re making a flower arrangement.
- Choose an anchor– Tomato, pepper, or eggplant. Its strong roots will keep other plants in tact.
- Find a Height– Fennel, basil, or dill. These will add depth and dimension that will be pleasing to the eyes.
- Make it full with fillers– lettuce, spinach, and small herbs will plump up your pot.
- Don’t forget spillers– nasturtium, strawberries, or oregano will dangle over the edges with delight!
Pay attention to colors and textures that will have visual effects in all seasons. Some examples are purple kale, rainbow chard, and different kinds of edible flowers. Be sure that the plants you select are compatible and will grow well together.
3) Buy the Best Varieties
You’ll want to select plants that are acclimated to local climate and preferably come from a local seed source. Kauai Seascapes Nursery, Inc. has veggies, herbs, and flowers in stock 6 days a week. Robin from Heaven on Earth starts is a local and organic farmer who lovingly and regularly provides amazing seedlings to us at Seascapes Nursery. If you want to grow fruit or plants of a bigger nature, look for words such as dwarf, tiny, bush, or patio. They are cultivated for smaller spaces.
4) Prepare your container
All you’ll need is a trowel and some gloves. In the bottom of the pot place a small layer of gravel or cinder to aid in drainage. Top with a bag or two of regular potting soil. We recommend Sunshine brand Potting Mix or a similar product. It has the peat moss and vermiculite added right in. Pat the soil down gently to get rid of air pockets. Next soak the soil with water before you plant so that it settles into place.
5) Plant your Garden!
Seedlings need about 4-6 inches of space between each other. Tip the seedlings out of the pot they came in and plant them with the stem above the surface. Have fun with this! With a little extra thought you will shortly become a mini landscape designer! Water the plants lightly after you’ve planted them.
6) Support the plants
Stake and tie climbing green beans and lanky plants like tomatoes. You can support them with your railing or with a tripod style trellis. You can make a trellis out of three bamboo poles, wooden dowels, or sticks. Secure one end in soil and tie the other ends together with wire or string. Make sure it’s sturdy! Then gently tie the plants to the trellis.
Vegetable and herb plants enjoy having about 6 hours of sun per day. Water them when the soil is dry to the touch about 2 inches below the surface. In the summertime you may need to water everyday. About once a month feed the little guys organic plant food. Fish emulsion, compost tea, or a dry organic fertilizer for vegetables will really beef up your produce.
Yay! The time has come…As soon as you see fruit that looks ripe, harvest! Cutting stimulates plants to produce more. With herbs you’ll want to snip off any stem that looks like it’s about to bloom. If it flowers, the plant will die early after going to seed. Lettuces and greens snipped at the base, leaf by leaf, will continue to grow and thrive.
Few things are more satisfying than growing your own food. With the right supplies, a little sun and water, and loving patience you can have a ‘garden’ just about anywhere!
For more edible inspiration check out Incredible Edibles. Fresh produce at your fingertips is only 8 steps away!