A few weeks ago, Will checked out a book for me from the library called the “Bountiful Container: Gardening in Small Spaces”. Unfortunately, I got sucked into some other books and only managed to read a couple chapters before it was due back. (I would have renewed but there was a waiting list; it’s obviously a popular topic.) From what I read, it’s a great book and it definitely fanned the flames of my gardening urges even higher.
So far I have just a few plants going – peas and basil outside on the porch, tiny tomato seedlings safe in the kitchen, and two trays of seedlings ready to be transplanted to Maggie & Nathan’s garden next week. I tried to get creative and plant some herbs in little take-out Chinese containers but most of the seeds didn’t sprout. I suspect the problem is that I didn’t poke drainage holes, although I did put a bunch of peanuts in the shell at the bottom to provide some drainage (I didn’t have any rocks handy), and some of seeds sprouted quite well. So perhaps the other seeds were nonviable or there wasn’t quite enough light for some of the containers.
My next project will be potatoes. The main thing with potatoes is that you want to keep adding soil on top of the plant as it grows so that it will produce lots of potatoes. Normally this is done with a trench-and-mound system in the garden where you dig a trench, plant the potatoes, and then add more soil every week or so until it’s mounded up above ground level. I have seen two container versions and am not sure which to use. Both involve our arch-nemesis, plastic.
For the first method, you start with a heavy duty garbage back and fold over the top to make a really short bag – kinda like cuffing your jeans instead of hemming them. There need to be some holes in the back and some rocks (peanuts?) for drainage. Plant the potatoes in a few inches of dirt to start and as they grow, you unroll part of the bag and add more dirt or leaves or straw. By the end, you have a bag full of dirt and hopefully potatoes.
The other method is basically the same thing except you use a big trash can with drainage holes and just keep filling it with dirt as the potatoes grow. The possible advantage to this method is that my parents donated an old trash can with wheels to my cause, which might make a nice transportable planter for future projects.
I need to make up my mind pretty soon, as I have a pound of organic seed potatoes waiting patiently in my living room. On the other hand, they’ve been pretty patient so far…