Sunday, May 29, 2011

Container Vegetable Gardening is for the Big Boys!

Last year was our first year for attempting container vegetable gardening.  It was a great success.  I'd given up on outside gardening in Florida because the critters benefit instead of us.  Tomatoes are not only easy to grow in containers but don't think you must stick to the patio size tomatoes, nopie nopie!  We have full size varieties overtaking the corner of our screened lanai and we have counted over 100 tomatoes so far between 4 bushes. Rob is a land surveyor, hence bright orange surveyor tape comes in very handy to assist in tying to stakes for the heavy bushes. 

We bought several large totes from WallyWorld and Target, drilled holes in the bottom and packed with a good mixture of sterile gardening soil, Black Cow, compost from my bin and perlite.  For price, you can't beat the totes, wait for a sale and you can pick up these plastic totes for as little as $5, over 1/2 savings of pots from the garden section of the store.   And I got a further 10% off at Target because they couldn't find the lids for those gray totes......I can act honorably distressed enough at checkout to convince the manager to give me the discount to take the lidless totes off his hands. 

The photo immediately right is a tomato plant Rob cut back from last Fall's garden; FL allows two growing seasons!! I made a bet he'd never get a second crop, he cut the plant to just about 6 inches above soil level in Feb.  Will you look at that baby now!! I never knew you could do that with tomatoes! I lost the bet the tomatoes are huge and tasty!

This (left) is a new variety for us, BHN206, it was supposed to be an early tomato, but we haven't found it to flower and fruit any earlier than the other 3 bushes, a Bonnie Select and 2 Celebrity.  The Celebrity is turning out to be our fav, the bush that Rob cut back is a Celebrity.  The tomatoes grow large, it's relatively disease and pest free and the the fruit is delicious.

Growing on the screened-over-lanai has really helped keep the critters at bay on the tomatoes.  We have red, green, banana and jalepeno peppers but they don't do as well under screen. Major aphid attack; and the organic solution we tried made them fatter and more prolific instead of getting rid of them, they loved it! So as a last ditch desperate move Rob moved them outside and the brown anole we have here in FL love the aphids for snacking!! We did not know that. So they are on a come-back and we should have peppers for dinner soon.

Since I've had great success with growing rosemary in containers, I tried several different herbs in one tote. Works awesome. No more lemon balm though, it grows large and fast and other than tea, I can't find a useful purpose for it, unless I want to start making lip balm and I don't.  Wish I could ship it to my friend Liz in Canada who does do balm and soaps.

You won't be able to see the thyme in the photos. The heat has exhausted it, it's a cool weather herb so won't see much more production for that plant, but everything else is still going full blast.


Dorthe said...

Hi dear Pat, how gorgeus it looks, the plants are so green-and full of wonderful tomatoes-- even ouers are in a green-house, they have not even made fruits yet...and they are still very small.
All your other herbs, looks great,too- your husbond have "green fingers"

ArtSnark said...

looking great! Yep, containers are the way to go in Fla's sandy soil. One year we experimented & planted tomatoes both in the ground & containers. Although we'd replaced a ton of sand with good soil & compost the potted plants did so much better it was amazing! I used to have a great lemon balm pound cake recipe around here somewhere, I'll dig it out if you are looking for a use.

whyte said...

LOL, Dorthe green finger along with ferilizer! :)

Stacey, I'd love that recipe for lemon balm pound cake!

Suz said...

What a ton of beautiful green. You are one serious gardener! I am amazed and a little envious of what you can do with herbs. Things just don't grow like that here :-(