Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lamium ground cover

Silver Beacon lamium makes a great ground cover. Here it is making a "skirt" for some hostas. Although it is a vigorous grower, it is shallow rooted, so it's easy to pull out any that is growing where it shouldn't be . Lamium will grow in shade or sun, but will bloom earlier and more profusely in sun. It can also be tucked into a collection of plants in a pot to give added interest all summer long. At the end of the season, replant it in the ground and it will be ready to use the next year in a pot.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Potted Veggies

Last fall we rebuilt some of the veggie planters that I use for my garden. I didn't get the planters refilled with soil before planting season so I decided to plant some of the veggies in pots. It's worked quite well, although I am still planning on filling the planters. Above is a sampling of the vegetables in their pots. Hard to see them in the group photo so I thought I would let them each have a turn in the spotlight.
This is a Tiny Tim cherry tomato. It has lots of blooms and should produce well. It is more dwarf than Sweet Million.
This is a buttercrunch variety of lettuce. I bought a flat of them in early May. It is pretty much at its mature size. Lettuce needs to be picked according to age not size, as it tends to get bitter no matter what size it is if it is getting old. Secret to lettuce is give it lots of room, lots of water and fertilize regularly.
I started this Gypsy pepper plant from seed and it is already setting fruit. It is the third year that I have grown this variety and it always sets fruit before any other variety that I have. It makes a yellow banana type pepper with a mild taste. It seems to manage the ups and downs of weather better than a lot of peppers.
For years , I had the mistaken notion that celery was hard to grow. Not at all true. I buy a half-flat or a full flat at the garden center and before I know it I'm picking small stalks of celery. It is usually pest free(had to blast some aphids with onion juice one year) and just keeps chugging along all summer. It seems particularly happy with morning sun and shade in the heat of the day. Water and fertilize regularly to keep it growing quickly - it will have better taste.
Bright Lights Swiss chard has become a real favourite. The red, orange and yellow stems are so attractive. I have been gradually thinning this pot and by the end of the summer it will only have one or two large plants in it. Swiss chard is great as a flavour accent in salads. I also use it in my homemade pancakes - yes, Swiss chard in the pancakes (cook the Swiss chard first, chop and mix into the batter). It's a good way to get veggies into your family.
Finally, the homely Romaine lettuce. Useful for its sturdiness and ability to take more heat than leaf lettuce. I always like to plant different varieties of lettuce so that a salad looks and tastes more interesting. I also have some red oak leaf lettuce but it doesn't get a picture because it's already bolting and starting to look ratty. I have replanted some red lettuce and leaf lettuce for a fresh crop later in the summer.
I hope this will encourage anybody who only has a little bit of space that you can still grow great veggies in pots.