Tag Archives: container gardening

Container Garden Inspiration @NWFGS

Container gardening is awesome for so many reasons. If you live in an apartment or condo, you might not have access to soil. Even if you live in a rental house, you might want to take your plants with you some day. If you have land at your disposal, it might not have optimal soil, temperatures or light for specific things you want to grow. The solution to all these problems? Plants in pots. The Northwest Flower & Garden Show is good at tapping into this growing method, and the display gardens always offer lots of great container inspiration. There is even a container garden competition on the bridge in the middle of the convention center. I got some snapshots of some of my favorite containers.

If you have ever been to our house, you know I have a little obsession with terrariums. Mine grow various mosses, mostly, but it’s very popular to grow little creeping plants or succulents in glass like little living sculptures. I love these fish bowls!

This is The Lusher Life Project. It was one of the competitors in the container garden competition. This was a great garden – like a patchwork quilt of so many types of succulents, old nautical stuff & rusty bits. It was like everything my wife loves in one small garden. The longer I stared at it, the more details I noticed. It was like a whole universe unfolding with endless succulent varieties.


Here’s another photo from one of the container garden displays. Those crazy plants are a marshy/aquatic pitcher plant – a carnivorous plant more commonly found in the southeastern bogs of our fine nation, but you can occasionally find them in adventurous garden ponds in the PNW. They are too fussy for me to bother with, but I love carnivorous plants.

This was from the “Funky Junk” section of the NWFGS. Local high school students create the Funky Junk gardens. This is a step up from the classic cowboy boot planters of my childhood. People plant things in cowboy boots in places other than Oklahoma, right?

I spotted several potted kumquats at the show. I’m considering getting one myself, even though we don’t really need any more small citrus plants in our house. You can make marmalade out of kumquats, so that seems like reason enough to me. Do kumquat blossoms smell as good as lemon blossoms? I need to research this.

I feel like I’m pushing the boundaries of container gardening by including this, but I am a sucker for a gabion-style planter, and these creepy, goth hellebores make my black, wizened heart smile. If I were a goth gardener, I would grow a lot of poisonous hellebores. I love how they hang their heads in shame. Since they are deer-resistant, I should probably grow some anyway.

This container garden is kind of ridiculous but it was popular with the crowd. It’s a garden in a bed! Get it? Garden bed! Yeah. The Barbie dolls are having a picnic! I thought it was pretty weird, but I couldn’t resist taking a photo. And what do I know anyway? Maybe you love it, and I’m happy to share it with you in that case.

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Lettuce In

We still have a garden! I have neglected my garden blogging in lieu of my fascination with the honey-bearing insects in our backyard, but we are spending plenty of time on our garden, too!

We’re growing another mix of heirloom lettuce. The lettuce mixes in our garden this year include the Mesclun Mix from Uprising Organics and the London Springs Mix from Territorial Seeds. I like varied textures, bright colors, and many flavors in my lettuce mix. Last year we grew the Uprising Organics mysterious lettuce mix and I was really pleased with it. It’s hard for me to be displeased with a high quality lettuce mix, you know?

These little guys are just waiting for the perfect spot to open up in one of the big beds.

Is there anything more delicious than old-fashioned organic baby lettuce in your backyard? NO, there is not. It’s just the most simple, perfect food to grow and I encourage everyone to plant some. I prefer the loose-leaf style of lettuce, since I am too impatient to wait for them to form that perfect, classic “head of lettuce.” I know it’s easier to ship a Head of Lettuce than it is to ship a bag of loose leaves, but if you don’t need to ship it, you can grow whatever kind of lettuce your heart desires. You can plant lettuce that’s spicy or sweet, with oak-leaf shapes or frilly ruffled leaves. You can find every color of lettuce from chartreuse to burgundy. Plant a mix of lettuce seeds, and maybe a mesclun mix too. It will be difficult to get bored with salad that comes in so many colors. I believe that a salad of lettuce from your backyard is a both a luxury and a right, and I want nothing but righteous luxury for you.

Here are eleventy hundred reasons why you should grow fancy lettuce:

1. It’s Super Easy.
Lettuce is fast to germinate and quick to start producing. It’s delicious at every stage of its development – unlike all those annoying vegetables that have to ripen, requiring precise water, sun, temperatures and pest protection until the moment the fruit is ready. You can eat lettuce any time before it bolts.

2. It’s, like, so totally and completely simple and easy.
You can grow lettuce just about anywhere. It doesn’t require full sunlight, and actually prefers some shade in the hot summer. They don’t mind window boxes, containers, flower bed edges, or entire beds planted with oceans of lettuce. They have shallow roots, so they are pretty tolerant of absurd planters. You could grow lettuce in a clog.

(photo used with permission from Fion N.)

I don’t want to hear any of that “I don’t have any space to garden” crap. Lettuce will grow just fine in an old yogurt container on a window sill. It grows up so fast, you hardly have time to care for it, just a few weeks of benign neglect, and then it’s gone. Don’t forget to water it once in a while.

3. It’s really cost effective.
Lettuce seeds are tiny and light so you get a huge number of seeds for just a few bucks. (Please choose a quality seed provider, like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or another reputable source.) Have you purchased organic baby lettuce at the grocery store or farmers market lately? It costs more than twice as much to buy 1 lb of baby lettuce as it costs to buy 1 package of seeds. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service reports:

In fall of 2001, Growing for Market reported “spring mix” greens wholesaling for slightly more than $3.80/lb. (2), which translates to roughly $4.95-$5.35 at the retail level.

I think my seeds cost $2? Maybe $3? This is a no brainer.

The greatest enemies of lettuce are:

1. slugs. i hate them! they love lettuce!
If you have slugs, I hope yours are less smart and resilient than mine. Mine won’t drown, don’t like beer, and hide from me when I go out to hand-pick them. I am considering a flock of ducks, but Krista says ducks are messy (she is right, of course, but I really dislike slugs). I have heard that you can have some success with copper wire, copper tape, sluggo, diatomaceous earth, coffee grounds, and ground-up egg shells. Steve Solomon writes about Fertosan Slug Destroyer in his book Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades but it’s not approved for use in the USA and I can’t find a Swiss person to send me some.
(Depending on your garden, you may also have problems with deer, caterpillars, aphids, various beetles and loopers, but I consider slugs to be the primary target.)

2. heat!
Lettuce is generally a cool-season crop, which means it does well in the Pacific Northwest just about year-round. But if you live some place hot, you can build a little umbrella or shade to cover your lettuce from the hottest sun. Or you can plant it in the shady spots of your yard where nothing else will flourish! Once lettuce plants get hot, they bolt. Once they bolt, the good eating is over. Blech. I do not recommend bolted lettuce! If you live someplace that is hella hot (shout out to all my texan & oklahoman friends and all the lovely people suffering an east coast heat wave), you can plant a fall crop of lettuce just as soon as those temperatures dip back below 70. You can eat fresh lettuce until you have a hard freeze that kills it all. You’ll know you had a hard freeze because all your outside lettuce will turn black. I’ve heard of some people raising baby lettuce in cold frames all winter. It sounds reasonable, so I plan to try it this winter.

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If I have not convinced you to grow your own organic salad by now, it’s time to invite you over for dinner and serve a homegrown salad. And if that doesn’t convince you, I will pack up a bag of potting soil and a pinch of lettuce seeds like a goodie bag to carry home. Don’t test me. I have been known to show up to people’s houses with a bag of soil and planting containers. You will not be the first I’ve converted.

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Filed under garden, summer, urban farming

Berryliscious

Did you forget we had a garden growing around the beehives? Me too. Krista’s working on the next installment of the swarm sage, but I just can’t resist talking about my berries in the meantime. You guys, we’re growing berries.

Yes, it’s summer already and my fruit is still zygotic, but love me anyway. Happy belated summer solstice, by the way. As Levi says, “The days are just going to get shorter and shorter from here on out.” Thanks for the sunshiney optimism, kid! On to the berries!

I have green blueberries on both of our potted blueberries!

I have green strawberries:

The raspberries are still nothing more than sticks, but I didn’t expect them do anything this year, except hopefully survive to next year.

Now all I have to do is keep the birds and slugs away from them for a few more weeks! I need lots of vigilance and bird netting!

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growing artichokes in containers

We’re starting to dabble a little more in container gardening this year. We do most of our gardening in raised beds, which I suppose is gardening in containers on a larger scale. But hey, containers are expensive. I’d like to have all sorts of ’em all over our house and yard, but we’re going to have to acquire a little at a time. We got to venture out to the port of Tacoma to shop for some good quality pots recently at Bamford & Bamford.

We found some of the brightest colors we could. My only disappointment was I was really hoping for something in orange. That’s okay, because I decided to turn some $5 tubs from Target into gardening containers and found bright orange and kelly green.

Five dollars for giant 19 gallon tubs in cute bright colors, with little rope handles! All I had to do was drill some holes. I really liked this idea for adding caster wheels to the bottom. I checked 3 or 4 stores for them and ultimately decided the high cost would take away the great deal I was getting on these containers.

Then Levi helped me with the most gigantic block of coconut coir I’ve ever seen.

I knew he would be on board if I let him spray the hose.

Then we mixed the coir with our garden mix (50% mushroom compost, 50% topsoil) in hopes that these smaller containers won’t get compacted.

We used up some of our river rocks under the pots for drainage.

And a layer on the bottom inside the containers as well.

And in go the artichokes.

I’m testing out one artichoke in these rather generous sized pots.

And I’m trying three in the big 19 gallon tubs. Baby steps toward a nicer looking yard. And if you can’t tell, I do have high hopes for these artichokes.

xo Krista

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