Vegetable and container gardening are two of the most popular gardening trends. Why not combine the two? Many gardeners, especially beginners, don’t realize that late summer into fall is a great time to plant cool-season vegetables. And there are a wide range of planting possibilities, such as lettuce, chard, kale and more. These cool-season vegetables are not only tasty, they can add unexpected colors and textures to your patio, porch or deck. Vegetables are just the start – you can also include herbs, fruit and flowers.
From hanging baskets to window boxes to large ceramic pots, only the imagination can limit the types of containers that can be used to grow ornamental edibles. Regional opportunities and limitations will influence what works best in your area, but here are some ideas to help you succeed in growing ornamental edibles.
Do Your Research
Look up fall vegetable planting timetables, usually available from your local Cooperative Extension System office. Different vegetables require different start dates and have varying temperature needs. Start from seeds or transplant.
When planting containers, use a quality-packaged potting soil, which will be free of insects and disease. Plants grown in containers will need more frequent water and fertilizer than the same plants grown in the ground. Larger plants may need to be watered daily during warm weather. Fertilize at least once a month. Watch out for pests and harvest frequently.
Vegetables: Beautiful And Delicious
Fresh grown vegetables not only taste better, but are also very nutritious. Lettuce in particular presents some surefire opportunities for creating distinctive and productive containers with its compact habit, abundance of colorful varieties and quick maturity. Attractive varieties such as spotted red Speckles, wavy Red Sails, bright New Red Fire and ferny green Oak Leaf are a few favorites. But don’t stop there; include other eye-catching vegetables like Bright Lights Swiss chard, Red Russian kale, purple cabbage, purple broccoli, Romanesco cauliflower, and mottled mustards and Asian greens.
Herbs: Tough And Good Looking
Most herbs are natural fits in containers. They’re extremely pleasing to the eye and easy to grow, and plus they make the perfect companions for many vegetables. Curly-leaf parsley, chives, variegated sages, lemon thyme, rosemary and golden oregano are perfect paired with your fresh vegetables or in your next recipe.
Many fruits and berries fit neatly into the fall edible ornamental category and do well in pots. Near the top of the list are everbearing strawberries: their compact, spreading habit and dangling fruit sprawl beautifully over the edge of containers. Blueberry plants are worthy subjects because of their fall color, even if fruiting season is over. Where the climate is right, also consider pomegranates, figs, serviceberry and elderberry.
In mild winter areas, citrus can be one of the best-looking container plants. Kumquats, Meyer lemons and limes are compact, productive plants that can bear for years in large pots. Even in cold winter areas, Meyer lemons can be used as indoor/outdoor container plants. And don’t overlook colorful foliage varieties like variegated calamondin and variegated pink lemon.
Just The Right Flowers
Many cool-season flowers can be used to brighten pots of vegetables and herbs. The possibilities are endless, but don’t forget that the blossoms of some, including calendulas, nasturtium, pansies and violas are also edible. They make beautiful accompaniments to fresh salads and grow perfectly in containers.
Protect Your Edibles From Pests
Insects will enjoy your edibles too, if you let them. Try our Natria products featured above to keep hungry insects from munching on your plants.