Vegetable gardeners have more control when planting in container gardens

2015 vegetable container garden The 2015 vegetable growing season had a cool, rainy and slow start, but plants are finally responding to the warm dry days.

After the first 95-degree day, I noticed every squash plant had blossomed overnight. Each plant had several large squash blossoms, with plenty of buzzing bees, because they were so happy to get the kind of overnight heat they like.

Vegetable gardeners who have trouble growing in conventional in-ground vegetable beds, may want to give container gardening a try.

From my experience, vegetable gardeners have more control when gardening in containers — in spite of the weather.

This year’s container vegetable garden is about two weeks behind last year’s garden. In 2014 cherry tomatoes were ripe enough to eat in mid-July; this year, it was August First.

There were just two ripe-red tomatoes, but they were worth the wait.

Vegetable Gardening in Small Spaces Class

My new Craftsy class has launched! Vegetable Gardening: Innovative Small Space Solutions is designed to help gardeners at all skill levels find creative ways to make the most of their growing space.

Craftsy Vegetable Gardening ClassI’m so excited to introduce my new vegetable gardening class to you!

I’ve partnered with Craftsy, the online educational provider, to create a seven-part class on how to grow vegetables and herbs in small spaces.

This class is everything I’ve learned through trial and error on growing small-space vegetable gardens. After you finish the class, you’ll be able to grow your own fresh vegetables and herbs just about anywhere.


Learn how to assess the sunlight to find the best planting spot, discover the joys of growing in containers, find ways to grow up and use your vertical space, select the best vegetables and herbs for sunny and shady spots, apply methods to keep your vegetable garden happy and healthy, and find ways to grow fresh herbs indoors.

Lettuce Grow in Small Spaces

There was such a good response to my post about how to grow round baby carrots, I thought I’d share another garden baby for small-space gardening.

‘Garden Babies’ butterhead lettuce is a cool-season leafy green that’s easy to grow in a container. I admit I fell for this variety from Renee’s Garden Seeds simply because of its name.

I couldn’t resist the idea of growing “Garden Babies” on the patio.

Garden Babies are a fairly new butterhead lettuce first developed for a sophisticated luxury market for flavor and quality, according to the seed packet information.

After growing one container of them, I have to agree. These babies are fun to grow–and to eat. The leaves are smooth with a nice, buttery texture. I used them in salads and slipped them into sandwiches. I also ate a few right out of the container.

If you’d like to grow these miniature butterheads, follow these steps:

Hanging Strawberry Pots a Great Idea

Hanging strawberry pots meet gardening needs for growing up.

My third pick for a “Best Of” the new products at the 2012 ProGreen industry tradeshow is the Urban Garden Pocket Planter by NCV.

These light-weight plastic containers will make small-space gardening easier.

I can imagine a row of these clever pots hanging from a balcony container garden or a single one brightening a drab spot on the patio.

The pots can be planted to grow strawberries, but they would be great for other kinds of gardening, too. The company suggests planting them with themed herb gardens, like an Italian culinary garden with basil, parsley, oregano and thyme.

If you have a spot to hang a pot, you can fill it with herbs, baby greens, annual flowers, succulents and more. The top is open so taller plants, like peppers, can be planted there.

The planters are made of injected molded plastic and have a textured finish. They can be taken apart to make shipping and storage easier.

Smart Pots for Vegetable Gardening

Another of my “Best Of” selections at the 2012 ProGreen tradeshow is a new idea for container gardening called Smart Pots.

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that every year I have a big container garden of vegetables. I’ve grown all kinds of vegetables and herbs and I’ve grown them in all kinds of containers.

But this year I get to try something new: a Smart Pot aeration container I picked up at ProGreen.

The Smart Pot is a foldable fabric container that’s said to be better than plastic containers because it releases heat from the pot, aerates the root zone and stops roots from circling inside the container. That’s because the container air prunes the plant’s root structure.

There are 4 different container sizes from 7 to 20 gallons. Gardeners can grow garlic, leeks, greens, herbs, beans and small annuals in the 7-gallon size; a 20-gallon Smart Pot is made to grow tomatoes, melons, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and winter squash.

Plant a Strawberry Pot with Succulents

I planted this succulent strawberry pot on a chilly day in April and here’s what it looks like today. I’m delighted at the results, especially the little tendrils growing down the sides of the pot.

If you’d like to plant one for your patio, here’s a link to a video how-to posted on my Lowe’s Garden Grow Along blog.

Enter the Zone 4 Container Gardening Contest

Do you have a floriferous container you’re especially proud of this year? If so, you may want to enter the Zone 4 Magazine container contest. But hurry…the deadline for entries is September 1.

In June I posted a blog called Plant a Hypertufa for Small-Scale Gardening and I showed how to create a container rock garden. In just a few short months, the ice plant and mock strawberry in my hypertufa have filled in and spilled over the edge, just like I hoped they would.

I’m thinking of entering a picture of it in the Zone 4 Magazine container contest.

To enter just send a digital photo, with a description of the container and its contents, to the nice folks at Zone 4 Magazine.  Be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address and telephone number.

Zone 4 is a quarterly magazine based in Bozeman, Montana, and it’s one of my favorites. Every issue is filled with helpful information for gardeners trying to grow in difficult climates–like ours–and Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

Plant a Hypertufa for Small-Scale Gardening

Today’s edition of Workshop Wednesday will appeal to those who like small-scale gardening.  Alpine plants, succulents and other low-growing plants grow well in trough planters. Here’s how to plant a hypertufa container garden.

I’ve always enjoyed planting container rock gardens, so I was delighted to find a table of hypertufa trough planters at the recent Denver master gardeners’ plant sale.

I’ve loved the look of hypertufa planters ever since my in-laws made a batch years ago, but I haven’t worked up the gumption to tackle the process to make my own.

Hypertufa planters look like they’re made of stone or rock, but they’re a light-weight container made from cement mixed with other materials like vermiculite, perlite, peat moss and sand.

If you’d like to make your own hypertufa trough planter, there are good tips included in a recent Denver Post article on using alpine plants to create container rock gardens or miniature xeriscapes.

How to Plant a Strawberry Pot for Gardening

This edition of Workshop Wednesday is How to Plant a Strawberry Pot in 3 easy steps.

Harvesting fruit from trees along the Front Range is hit or miss. We’re often hit with a late spring freeze that guarantees we’ll miss our fresh peaches, apricots and other stone fruits.

But life isn’t just a bowl of cherries, it’s also filled with ripe red strawberries.

I think being able to go berry picking in your own backyard is one of life’s simple pleasures.

I’ve had a large container of strawberries in a corner of my patio for several years that have yielded several nice strawberry crops. Even though the strawberries were doing just fine, I wanted the container for another kind of planting.

I decided to experiment with transplanting the strawberries into a strawberry pot and thought I’d get it done before the plants grew too tall. But an exceptionally cool and wet spring prevented me from getting the transplanting done until some of the plants had already started to flower.

Get the Rocks Out of Your Containers

If you like container gardening, you’ll appreciate Better Than Rocks.

better-than-rocks-blogIf you’re still using rocks in the bottom of your containers to aid drainage, there’s a new product that can make your gardening life a bit easier. Better Than Rocks is…well, you know.

This product is made of 100% recycled plastic and comes in squares that can be cut to any size for use in planters of every shape and size, including window boxes.

It was easy for me to layer the mesh-like product in the bottom of the planter and then fill the container with potting soil before planting.

The pots were so much lighter to move around the patio and I used less potting soil.

So far, I’ve found the product does help prevent soil from draining away during watering. I also like the idea the plastic can be reused for several seasons.

Better Than Rocks is located in Hudson, Wisconsin. You can read more at

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