Posts Tagged ‘container gardening’

I just got my last seeds for this year and am almost done getting them started. So far everything has come up really nice — a pretty big improvement from past half-assed seed starting attempts. But everything is still really young and not to transplant size yet. It is still early yet.

I had been led to believe that pepper seeds can take a long time to germinate and can be stubborn, but I had no problem at all getting mine up. I soaked the seeds in lukewarm water for 15 minutes ahead of planting, then I stuck them on top of the fridge (for heat) and under a humidity dome for a while. They began emerging in a few days and are now living happily under the lights of one of my Aerogardens. Then I’ve got my tomatoes that are all coming up nicely and various flowers that are in different growth stages.

I can’t wait for Plantin’ Day 2009! I have to get a few more big pots and one long, rectangular planter (for peppers, calendula and nasturtium) and a bunch of potting soil, but other than that I just need it to get warmer!


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The number of tomato plants that I’m growing keeps inching upwards. The four from my official 2009 plan are still happening, but then my step grandmother gave me some seeds for a red grape (‘Snacker’s Delight’) and I couldn’t pass it up. And then somehow I ended up ordering seeds for ‘Ildi’, a yellow grape that should ripen early and produce tons and hopefully taste a bit better than ‘Yellow Pear’ last year. Somehow I am resisting planting the Paul Robeson seeds I have because I know they aren’t as well suited to container growing as some of the other varieties I have picked (I have ‘Black Sea Man’ for a determinate black tomato), so at least I can be proud of myself for that.

I’m sad that I can’t grow the same varieties I would want to if I could put them in the ground, but I decided last year to select only cultivars that were specifically container friendly and see how that goes. And then I decided that cherry tomatoes were allowable since they did so well last year, so we’re up to 6 different plants of all different sorts for this year. I will have to buy some new big pots, but I hope that there is enough room on my deck for everything.

On my to-try list for as soon as I get my spot of dirt:

  • Brandywine (No duh, right?)
  • Paul Robeson
  • Carmello
  • Sun Gold (I’m trying this next year regardless of where I am)
  • Opalka
  • Eva Purple Ball
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast

I want some kind of a small white tomato, a green one and a good lemon yellow one, but I haven’t chosen them yet. The idea of having a whole patch of different colored cherry tomatoes is very appealing to me, but that seems impossibly indulgent right now. I just can’t imagine having that much space.

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I took a break on the blogging, but I’m growing more than ever.

Over Christmas Break I went to Hawaii and came back with two orchids and a kahili ginger. My nice orchid is living with my parents where it can be babied and not devoured by my Jules and my cheap-o one is just hanging out, not looking much different than when I got it, but the ginger is starting to take off. My mom has had plenty of success with the same plant in the past, so that’s not surprising. I hope it blooms this summer, but it’s so hard imagine it getting big enough to do so. We’ll see!

I had my wedding shower at the end of February and it was garden themed, so I got tons of new garden-oriented toys. I got not one, but *two* Aerogardens, a 6+ and a Pro 200. I’ve started the herb kit that came with the 6+ and aside from the basil coming up purple when it was supposed to be green everything has been working just like it’s supposed to. I’m using the lights from the Pro200 to start seeds under and it’s wonderful so far. I’ll post an update soon about seed starting and my constantly evolving plans for summer.

My chives are back too

My chives are back too and that's the ginger on the right.

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It’s going to look like this*
Handrawn plans, since it's cold outside.

I am trying to keep my plans for next year reigned in, but it is proving to be almost impossible. I blame a number of things: the fact I have so many pots from last year, The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey (review to come), knowing I have a reliable nursery and farmers market at hand for quality supplies, my out of control imagination and predisposition towards daydreaming, my desire to have something happening in my garden in all seasons. What’s a girl to do?

Working from my aforementioned plans, I’ve decided to add carrots (probably Scarlet Nantes) to the snap peas (very likely Sugar Snap VP instead of a snow pea, but maybe both if I get out of control) and greens on my list of cool season crops. I want to expand this list greatly in years to come, but I’m new to extended season growing, so I’ll see how these go this year. As you can see, I also am adding strawberries to my list of summer plants. Fresh strawberries are one of my favorite things and they shouldn’t be a problem to grow, so I have to have at least one for snacking/topping my ice cream or cereal, but I secretly want about 5.

Deciding what to do for flowers has been a pain because there are so many neat ones out there. Like I mentioned before, I really want to grow morning glories because I have always loved them, but they tend to be more like a weed in the garden. I won’t have that problem in containers though and I am going to mix them with moonflowers so I’ll have one vine blooming in the morning and the other in the evening. Because I still need more flowering vines apparently I am very interested in having some purple Cathedral Bells take over the railing leading to my front door. I will probably have one more pot with a flower on it and right now that is looking like it will be a balloon flower, an Astra series one that will be small and compact.

I’m so excited! I know that it might be a bit of a challenge trying so many new things, but I’m ready.

*Obviously even if everything goes perfectly, all the plants will not peak at the same time like in my fanciful drawing. Moonflower and morning glory bloom at opposite times, so getting this kind of overlap would be impossible, not to mention my tomatoes should all be ready at different times.

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Just as I was feeling down about the end of the growing season, my ranunculus began peeking their heads through the soil. I had kind of forgotten about them! I also have a pot with a bunch of pink tulip bulbs. This is my first attempt at each, but hopefully they will both bloom in the spring. I was worried about the quality of the bulbs, but it appears there’s some life in them at least.

I totally forgot about my ranunculus

I got tired of protecting my coleus from the cold so I let it go, but my snapdragon seems fine with the weather. My Sweet 100 soldiers on despite my neglecting it for months. It’s really quite amazing. Imagine if I had been more attentive?

Would someone please tell my tomatoes it's November?

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I have left my Sweet 100 and my rosemary from the summer, but aside from that all the edibles have been disposed of. I still have my coleus and my snapdragon (which is blooming all hot pink with yellow throats!) from the seeds I had this summer. I let the coleus get a little leggy, but that’s ok. I think I’m going to pinch it back a lot and see if it recovers or not. In the meantime I am bringing them in for the cold nights and returning them outside and will do so until it’s too cold during the day.

My houseplants are in to stay for the winter. I repotted almost everything – my hoya is in a 12″ hanging basket to go in the kitchen and my jade move up to the old hoya’s pot. I’m not too sure what I want to do with my succulant garden because it has a hole where one plant died last winter. Maybe I’ll replace it with a new plant at some point, but that’s low priority.

I went out to buy that hanging pot this weekend and got sucked in to getting this cute little philodendron for $2.99, which I had to get a new cute pot for. I wish I could have more houseplants, but one of my cats is young and very persistent and my apartment is not very sunny, so I have to work carefully to fine places to put them. I wish I had an aerogarden for herbs to compensate for this, but those things are just too darn expensive. Maybe I’ll splurge and get one with my Christmas money. Hmmm…

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I’ve been researching what I want to grow next summer and already have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to plant.


They grew so well this year and were so tasty, so I am going to make them the central crop for next year. Though the three varieties from this summer performed well, they were small fruited and less suited to my cooking needs. After lusting for all the fancy varieties at Laurel’s Heirloom Tomato Plants and TomatoFest, I decided on four varieties that I will start from seed next spring.

  • Sophie’s Choice – A very small, bushy plant that produces very early. Fruit are regular red globes, 8-10 oz.
  • San Marzano – Semi-determinate plant that make lots of red, plum-type tomatoes that ripen mid-season. These are good for sauces and tomato paste.
  • Black Sea Man – Satisfying my desire for a unique looking tomato, these are dark burgundy with green shoulders and are 12-16 oz a pop.
  • New Big Dwarf – This was the only beefsteak kind I saw that is a determinate, making is better suited for container growing. As with all tomatoes it’s size it ripens late in the season and gets 1 lb+, but the plant only gets about 2′ tall.

I’m very excited about this variety and I’ll let you know how they perform. If my ambitious seed-starting program doesn’t go very well I will get starters at the farmer’s market again, probably another Sweet 100, a Better Boy and an Early Girl and maybe something else. They aren’t as specially suited for container life, but I think they will be ok.


No jalapeno and bells next year. I want poblanos for stuffing and pepperoncini for pickling. The poblanos should be no problem to find starters for, but I’ll have to grow the pepperoncini from seed.

Salad Greens

They grow while it’s still cool, so I’ll buy a long trough and have them both in the spring and fall. I imagine I’ll buy a mescalin seed mix and call it a day, but it is hard to resist the urge to try more interesting things like swiss chard and kale.

Snow Peas

Not sure what kind yet, but I can direct sow these also while it’s cool. I love these raw and in stir fry, but they can be expensive at the store and I hear they freeze well.


I’m the most undecided here. I’m pretty sure I want morning glories to trellis up the dividing wall between our deck and our neighbors, maybe poppies, maybe some columbine. I will probably decide on a whim at the last second depending on the selection.


Basil again, for sure. And probably catnip for the cats and maybe some spearmint? I’d do more, but space is at a prime.

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