Today, with high-density living, containerization is a popular way of gardening.
There are many new edible plants developed to perform well in containers and to provide quality produce in a shorter time frame, even under less than ideal conditions.
Chili peppers, like ‘Chenzo’, ‘Loco’ and ‘Basket of Fire’, are easy to grow, quite attractive (like an ornamental) and their small fruits are equivalent in taste and quality to garden-grown varieties.
Container tomatoes, like ‘Tumbling Tom Red’ and ‘Yellow’, ‘Megabite’ and ‘Sweet ‘n’ Neat’, are some of the earliest and best tasting you’ll find. From basil and eggplants to squash and strawberries, breeders have perfected fast, easy-to-grow, quality varieties to help even less experienced gardeners have success. The beauty of these crops is their ability to be grown in large containers for instant results and attractiveness.
PanAmerican’s ‘Simply Salad’ series, with its three salad blends, is another example of beauty, functionality and ease of growing. ‘Alfresco’ has Mediterranean flavours; ‘City Garden’ is a traditional salad; and ‘Global Gourmet’ is a mix with an Asian flair. ‘Simply Kale’ is also an innovative new mix.
Along the theme of beauty, swiss chard has come such a long way, with some of the blends being used even in floral containers. ‘Bright Lights’, ‘Peppermint’ and ‘Celebration’ are now being grown in 6” or 8” pots as container focal points as well as container or garden pop-ins.
Speaking of pop-ins, for gardeners who have limited space or for folks in a hurry, they can minimize the time from planting to harvest by purchasing larger size pots of sugar snap peas, bush and climbing beans, cherry tomatoes, bush cucumbers, lettuce, kale, peppers, summer squash, corn, brassicas and many greens. While the vegetables they planted from seed or transplants are growing, these larger plants will allow an early harvest. Small space gardeners should trellis their climbing beans, peas and cucumbers.
Healthy foods have become a big issue over the past few years as the younger generations are very concerned about what they and their children eat. It is imperative that we grow vegetables either organically or with minimal chemical pest controls. This is equally important for protecting pollinating insects, like bees.
I give the Burpee Company full marks for their innovation, not only in providing informative labels that can be scanned with an app but also for their lead in identifying and selling seeds for vegetables with higher antioxidant values. Their ‘Boost’ antioxidant collection has some amazing varieties. ‘Gold Standard’ cucumbers have 500% more beta-carotene; ‘Sweet Heat’ peppers have 65% more vitamin C; ‘Healing Hands’ salad mix has 20% more lutein, 30% more beta-carotene, 30% more carotenoids and 70% more anthocyanins; and ‘Healthkick’ tomatoes have 50% more lycopene.
However, food gardening is not limited to vegetables and herbs but flows into perennial vegetables and small fruits. The new branded ‘Bushel & Berry’ series of raspberries and blueberries is an ideal fit for container growing. The plants themselves are attractive and there’s the added bonus of being able to pick one’s own fruit – a huge feature for small space and patio gardeners. These plants do need a little proper care, such as larger pots, good soils and nutrients, for the best results.
Perennial vegetables are really growing in popularity. Rhubarb is, perhaps, the most recognized and easy to grow, especially from well-established clumps growing in pots, as opposed to root chunks. Jerusalem artichokes are fun and also easy to grow, as is horseradish. In milder climates, the beauty of globe artichokes thriving in a garden is amazing and even if grown in colder climates as an annual and harvested for only one season, if you let it flower, it’s stunning.
With a new season upon us, let’s enjoy greater success with more innovative gardening and newer and more productive varieties.