If you live in a region where you can grow fruits and vegetables year round, the sky is the limit for plants to place in your garden, but for the rest of us with cold winters or extremely hot summers, learning seasonal growing and what plants do well in containers is a must for an edible garden throughout the year.
Tomatoes are an obvious choice for containers, but keep in mind you will need to protect them from frost and keep them out of heavy rain. They hate to get their leaves wet, and will quickly develop problems if you don’t give them some shelter. There are so many varieties of tomatoes. Pick a plant that best suites your palette and needs, and be sure to give them a little fertilizer now and again to increase the flavor of the fruit. Cherry tomatoes are very easy to grow, and they are pretty drought tolerant. We grew a few varieties when we lived in Phoenix Arizona, and they did well even during the summer months…as long as we didn’t forget to water them.
Other plants that do well in a container are peppers, eggplant, herbs( bay, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, basil, chives, oregano, mint, cilantro), green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, Belgian endive, raddichio), strawberries, dwarf bananas, citrus, cucumbers, watermelon, beans, peas, onions, and edible flowers.
Things to keep in mind when growing plants in containers are giving them the right amount of light, water and fertilization. Most plants don’t like to sit in soggy soil, so letting them dry out a bit between watering. More people kill plants by over-watering than under-watering.
You’ll do far better if you select plants for your area. Try to start a few plants from seed, as well as, planting a few small seedlings. Your kids will be able to see plants sprout from the ground while they enjoy watching and caring for the established ones. To get started, just grab a few pots, line them up and let the kids start planting. As the plants start to increase in size, add some bamboo sticks or a wooden frame to support the larger fruits. It’s a great way to get the kids out of the house to experience working with nature, and if you’re feeling really adventurous, try your hand at raising some chickens! They are very social animals, fairly easy to care for, and they’ll give you free eggs and fertilizer for years.
There is another plus side to gardening…longevity! According to new research, women with the highest rate of vegetation near their homes had a 12 percent lower mortality rate compared to women with the lowest amount of vegetation.
“The finding of reduced mortality suggests that vegetation may be important to health in a broad range of ways.”
—Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., Director, NIEHS
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start gardening!