Thursday, April 24, 2014
Don't let a lack of time or space get in the way of gardening your way to a healthy lifestyle. Plant a container of nutritious vegetables and herbs. Include a few planters on the front porch, back patio or right outside the kitchen door.
All that's needed is some potting mix, fertilizer, plants and a container with drainage holes. A 15- to 24-inch-diameter pot or 24 to 36-inch-long window box is a good starting size. Bigger containers hold more plants and moisture longer, so it can be watered less frequently.
Check containers daily and water thoroughly as needed. Self-watering pots need less frequent watering, allowing busy gardeners and travelers the opportunity to grow plants in pots with minimal care. Fill the container with a well-drained potting mix. Read the label on the container mix bag. Add a slow-release organic nitrogen fertilizer, like Milorganite at planting for better results with less effort. It provides small amounts of nutrients throughout most of the season and eliminates the need to mix and water in fertilizer throughout the growing season. Sprinkle a bit more on the soil surface midseason or when changing out your plantings.
Mix colorful flowers with nutritious vegetables for attractive, healthy results. Bright Lights Swiss Chard, pansies (their flowers are edible), colorful leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes and trailing ivy make a great cool season combination. Fresh-from-the-container-garden vegetables make the best tasting salads and the greens provide Vitamins A and C as well as calcium. Use the pansy flowers to dress up a salad or freeze them in ice cubes for an added gourmet touch to beverages. For summer, use a tomato, pepper, eggplant or peas, beans and cucumbers trained on a trellis. Surround the towering vegetables with purple basil, tri-color sage, carrots, beets and a colorful trailing annual like verbena, lantana or bidens.
Don't forget to squeeze in a few onions or garlic. The fragrant foliage can be decorative and these vegetables help lower blood sugar and cholesterol while aiding in digestion.
Whether it's a tree providing shade on a hot summer day, a tropical plant cleaning the air in our homes, flowering perennials and hanging baskets enhancing our property's curb appeal, or even herbs improving the flavor of our food, the versatility of plants is unparalleled. There truly is a plant for every purpose.
Locally visit Abide-A-While for tips and information on container gardens at 1460 U.S. 17 Bypass, Mt Pleasant or call (843) 884-9738.
Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience. Myers' website, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.