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May 27 - Tu Bloom Designs

Container Gardening for Vegetables

Advance Garden Designs
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Vegetable Suggestions:

1. Cucumber: (Burpless, Bush Champion)
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plant in its pot when purchased.
Watering: Well Watered/ Consistent Moisture
Sun: Full (6-8 hours) Maintenance
Tip: Since these plants are trailers, a strong support system is recommended to help keep the plant and fruits from the ground where pests and other diseases can spread easily. Pinch growing tips often after they have form at least 3-4sets of flowers, as this process will help get higher yields and larger fruits by having the plant focus on existing fruit formations during the growing season. Keep the plants watered regularly, and avoid watering the leaves, flowers, or fruits to avoid mildew (powdery growth) that can cause the plants to lose their leaves, flowers, and fruits prematurely.

2. Tomatoes: (Bush & Cherry varieties are often good starters) Varieties I would recommend are "Early Girl" for the bush variety, and, "Sweet Million" for cherry tomatoes.
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plant in its pot when purchased.
Watering: Well Watered/ Consistent Moisture
Sun: Full (6-8 hours)
Maintenance Tip:
Pinch the growing tip when the plant is about 2ft in containers to promote a fuller/bushier plant. Also pinch off side shoots/"suckers" that appear in between the main and side branching of the plant to help the plant focus its energy on stable growth all throughout the plant, as these will most likely have limited or few flowers that yield tomatoes.
Water the plants at the soil surface instead of just spraying the entire plant; this will minimize insects and disease from attacking the plant and its fruits. When growing in containers, water evaporation occurs faster, so a good layer of organic mulch about 3-4" in depth is good for moisture retention. A good rule of thumb for watering with a sprinkler that will cover all vegetation, is to water earlier in the morning so that there is efficient time for the plants to dry out throughout the day. Finally, like most fruiting vegetables… try to be consistent with watering the plants, and do not to allow drought periods that could eventually affect crop yield because of flower and fruits dropping due to stress. Fertilizing with a high potash fertilizer once flowers begin to form will help increase yield, and also rejuvenate the plants during high heat mid-summer days when their leaves begin to lose color and sometimes drop.

3. Basil: (Sweet, and "Queen Siam" Thai varities)
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plant in its pot when purchased.
Watering: Well Watered/ Consistent Moisture
Sun: Full (6-8 hours)
Maintenance Tip:
Keep plants indoors until our frost period has passed to prevent damage that can occur to the plant which has delicate leaves. Plants should be well fertilized with a good no burn, slow release fertilizer (i.e. Osmocote; this is to avoid fungal and bacterial wilts). Pinch off the tips where flowers begin to form to promote additional branching for a fuller/bushier plant. Young leaves are often great harvested because they are sweet, tender, and excellent served fresh! However, leaves can be harvested at any time of the year (especially if you're growing them indoors), or preserve them by drying and storing them for later use. Basil is my favorite herb of all, so I grow an abundance of it in several larger terra cotta containers. At the end of every season before the first frost, I cut all the stems off to ground level (with both leaves and flowers) to hang dry in my kitchen for later use.

4. Mint: (Spearmint, Chocolate, & Pineapple varieties)
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plant in its pot when purchased. Watering: Moderate, but are fairly drought tolerant.
Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade, and are adaptable to most conditions.
Maintenance Tip:
Very easy to grow, but you get more varieties when you buy these as potted plants rather than seeds. Similar to Basil, I suggest that flower heads be pinched to promote fuller and bushier plants because they are used primarily for their leaves. While Spearmint has not been introduced as a popular flowering perennial by some venders for its fragrant yet purple flowering characteristics, I enjoy growing the Chocolate and Pineapple scented varieties because they make great conversation pieces! Most of the mint family are very easy to grow, requires minimal maintenance, and can be quite difficult to control if grown in-ground where they are pretty invasive.

5. Rosemary (Any)
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plant in its pot when purchased.
Watering: Low-Moderate
Sun: Full Sun (6-8) Hours, but manageable with (3-4hours of Sun) if kept in a well lit location with indirect lighting as well.
Maintenance Tip:
Avoid over-watering, and allow the soil to dry out in between each watering. Too much moisture and water causes wilting and leaf drop. If bought in larger potted sizes, rosemary can be trained/pruned to various attractive topiary shapes (i.e. cones, spheres, etc.) and can have a dual purpose as home decorative accents!

6. Eggplant (Black Beauty, Slim Jim are both good varieties)
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plant in its pot when purchased.
Watering: Well Watered/ Consistent Moisture
Sun: Full Sun (8+ Hours)
Maintenance Tip: These tend of have one of the longer growing seasons to harvest, so be prepared to insulate your plants/containers with large clear plastic bags during our chilly spring/summer days. Doing so will encourage a healthy growth rate without damage to the plant when temps drop below 55F. Since eggplant fruits tend to be quite heavy, staking is recommend at the time of planting to avoid doing this later on which can disturb or damage root growth. Once the plants have set 2-3 sets of flowers and are at least 1-2 ft tall, begin to pinch off the growing tips; this is recommended for two reasons: (1)To promote a fuller/bushier plant, (2)To focus the plants energy on any existing fruits towards maturity. Harvest the fruits when they are nice and shiny, because once they begin to lose their luster…the flesh becomes too chewy and turns bitter.

7. Spinach (Leaf, Atlanta, Melody are good varieties that have done well for me)
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plant in its pot when purchased, but easily seeded with a thin layer of soil for coverage.
Watering: Well Watered/ Consistent Moisture Sun: Full Sun to Part shade
Maintenance Tip:
Spinach can be easily grown from young plants or from seeds. They prefer bright lighting in Spring, early summer, and fall. However, it is recommended that spinach should not be planted in full sun during mid-late summer during periods of high heat. Best harvested for their leaves, harvest should be done before the plants "bolt" (a term used when the plants flower and goes to seed). For a succession of crops, multiple groupings of small plantlets or seeds should be sown every few weeks throughout the growing season. The most common problems with growing spinach is mildew, which can be prevented by giving your plants adequate spacing to promote good air circulation.

8. Sugar Peas (Sugar Snap variety)
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plant in its pot when purchased.
Seeds should be sown 1-2" deep and about 2-4" apart in groups of 2-3 seeds which can later be thinned out to 1-2 strongest plantlets.
Watering: Well Watered/ Consistent Moisture Sun: Full (6-8hours)
Maintenance Tip:
Most peas will require some sort of support (i.e. trellis, etc.) to keep the plant from being attacked by pests and minimize disease formation on leaves, pods, etc.. Birds love the small plantlets and pods, so be sure to have some sort of coverage that will aid and protect your plants during the growing season (whatever you choose as a covering, just be sure that it does not take lighting or prevent the plant from growing effectively…also keep in mind that you should find something that will easily allow you to see and harvest the crop). After the first set of pods have matured, it is recommended that the growing tips should be pinch to promote further lateral growth that will help increase your crop yield during the growing season. Keep plants watered regularly once flower formation has set to encourage plump, juicy sweet pods for your enjoyment. Best if eaten fresh right after harvest, but if you must… store them refrigerated to retain sweetness and crisp texture!

9. Peppers: (Sweet- Bell Boy, Jingle Bells) (Hot- Jalapeno, Habanero)
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plant in its pot when purchased.
Watering: Well Watered/ Consistent Moisture
Sun: Full (6-8hours)
Maintenance Tip:
Water regularly, and do not allow your plants to go thru any dry periods, because the plants flowers (ultimately becoming fruits) and leaves will drop during these drought periods. Once establish the plants can be rather crisp and tender, so I recommend some form of staking or support to avoid your plants breaking or collapsing during high winds or heavy rain. The earlier you can plant peppers outdoors and the longer the growing season they have… the better your yields are, and hotter your peppers get (for the hot varieties of peppers like chilies.. they get hotter as they get more red in color!). Similar to most fruiting vegetables, pinching the growing tips when you noticed a good first set of fruits forming will promote a fuller bushier plant… and will also help promote stronger main trunk systems that can sometimes self sustain without any form of support!

10. Arugula
Soil Depth: Same soil level as that of the plantlets in its pot when purchased. Easily sown as seeds, and should be done every 2-3weeks for a succession of yields for your enjoyment.
Watering: Well Watered/ Consistent Moisture
Sun: Part Sun-Shade (w/ bright indirect lighting)
Maintenance Tip: Because they prized for their leaves, this plant produces ready-to-eat leaves quick, so consistent moisture and watering is necessary during its growth. You can harvest the leaves as young as you like, and the more you pick/cut off… the plant will follow with more leaves from the main plant base/or otherwise known as the stump. Like Spinach, Arugula is best harvested before the plant begins to bolt (seed), so be on the look out!

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