The Kitchen Garden: Container Gardening Part Two
Whether you are going to be kitchen gardening within a courtyard, roof terrace, balcony or a larger open space container gardening can be invaluable. The containers you use can be made from many differing materials. Although sustainable timber and natural materials are the best and most environmental, sometimes we just have to be resourceful and creative. One just has to look around your home to see we often have redundant objects that could be transformed into garden useable ware.
A few examples of natural materials to inspire your thinking:
Timber boxes and planters:
Often used to store vegetables and fruit in, ask your local green grocer if they still use them. They may even have some stored which never get used due to cardboard being a main material of use now.
They are also used to store wine and other glass bottles, so ask at the quality wine store. Never mind if you are a non drinker if you can recycle something into good use that is the goal here.
They can also be found at 2nd hand markets, craft markets, garage and boot sales. So keep your eyes peeled as they look the part in the kitchen garden. These boxes can be lined with plastic or weed suppressant material to lengthen the life of the timber and retain soil. As long as you ensure drainage through the material used.
Timber boxes which use to store vegetables, tools & gardening wares
If you are dab hand at DIY why not forage for timber, either in your own backyard, at junk stores and boot sales or in a timber yard. Building merchants often have timber palettes which may not be needed also. There are many other places one could think of whether you are a city dweller or located in a rural setting. Maybe even a relative or friend has some timber waiting to be useful.
As you see below the planter has horizontal sections of timber, each side could be made separately, then with stainless steel nails, screws or building staples, the sides could be secured together. The base could be solid with drainage holes which are evenly spaced. Or the planter sides could frame an inner liner such as a grow bag. With the latter case you are just aesthetically `dressing` the grow bag to look more attractive.
If you are a talented carpenter or woodworker there would be no end of possible designs one could formulate. If you know of a trade`s person such as this it is well worth investing into commissioning them to build solid planters which will last many years. It would also mean you could design the size and height to exactly the requirements of your kitchen garden.
One can either choose to leave the timber planters natural as here or colour treat to a finish which is cohesive with an overall design. This may even correspond to the interior of the property. There is also a good selection of natural paint and stain solutions made, which are all natural ingredients and colour dyes. Some of them even include essential oils as ingredients and smell divine.
Barrels have been used over time to store liquids and other goods for freshness and travel. One can still find them dis-guarded or for sale. As above it is worth foraging in a modern capacity at junk yards, sales, even the tip. It is amazing what you can find when you look. Barrels can look very in keeping with the out-door space and kitchen garden. They instantly give a stylish look. Weathered timber has a texture which looks great with dark green leafy vegetable such as spinach and swiss chard.
Timber barrel with swiss chard & oriental leaf
Salad leaf, oriental greens, rocket, cut & come again crops also look fabulous in barrels. If you have room for a number of them successional sowing is easy to follow. Sowing 1 or 2 for an early salad crop, waiting a couple of weeks then sowing another 1 or 2 and so on. If managed well each crop can be either harvested by cutting back to lower growth or select leaf picking can be carried out. Certain leafy vegetables, if cut back will re-grow 2-5 times during a season. Select picking will also result in new growth being produced.
Either way done correctly to suit the crops sown months of salad leaf can be provided. Remember to read specific details of the seeds you are considering choosing as to their suitability. There are many salad leaf which are perfect for this approach.
Clay pots have been traditionally used in the garden for centuries, before plastic pots were created every size of clay pot could be found from simple tiny seedling size to large ornate planters. Each has a use at some stage depending upon the style of your kitchen garden. One element to remember is that clay does absorb moisture, so regular checks to make sure the soil is damp without being waterlogged is important. Here a grand classical clay planter as shown, perfect for a traditional courtyard if you would like to have a stylish traditional finish. Yes, vegetables and fruit can be grown in such planters. There is no restriction or limit upon artistic license in the garden. Experiment and enjoy the process.
Also shown are many tiny clay pots filled with tiny seedlings, at some point these would be separated and replanted to larger pots until they are planted in their final growing position.
Ideal crops for sowing now, in planters and in the ground:
All salad leaf, including lettuce, spinach & swiss chard, chicory & endive, landcress, mizuna, mibuna, oriental leaf, garden rocket & wild, summer purslane, spinach beet, Raddish, Beetroot, carrot, turnip, swede, Brassicas; Cabbages, kohl rabi, kale (in containers as young leaf & for winter), calabrese, broccoli`s, Florence fennel, coriander, dill,chervil, parsley, sorrel, basil, French beans & climbing French beans, runner beans, peas, Courgette, squash, cucumber & pumpkin.
Note: Brassicas can become very large in maturity, it is possible in limited space to grow them as young smaller leaf & pick as a cut & come again crop.
And remember one does not have to achieve everything in your first growing year. The kitchen garden passion is here for life enabling you to gradually move through your plan to achieve a little more each year. Or a lot more !
Until next month happy kitchen gardening.
All Photographs © Laara Copley-Smith at Laara Copley-Smith Garden & Landscape Design. All rights reserved.
Laara Copley-Smith is a professional Garden Designer based in the UK with a passion for Kitchen Gardens and growing organically. Laara has been a vegan for over ten years, is a raw foodist and is a keen photographer. Laara offers an extensive range of bespoke design services and creative consultancy and can be contacted here.
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