Thursday, May 29, 2008

Plants in Unexpected Places

Got your veggies in yet?

The one part of gardening I don't love (besides the weeding, which isn't all that bad if it's not too hot out) is watering. Let me get my hands in the dirt, or plot out where everything is going to go. Better yet, let me spend hours in nurseries looking at plants and imagining where they are going to go (If you refuse to let me buy anything while I'm there, I'm going to accuse you of cruelty.). But ask me to remember to turn the water on and off and move a hose periodically and you'll find how truly lazy I can be. I admit, a good number of my plant failures have been because I didn't water quite often enough.

So what if you don't have a hose to drag, or even somewhere to drag it? What if you live in an apartment or condo and there's exactly two and a half square feet of balcony or twelve inches of windowsill in your apartment? I bet you're thinking you couldn't possibly plant anything and thus you are off the hook. Not so, my friend.

Do you have room for a hanging planter on your balcony, or out an apartment window? Put a tomato plant in there and let the branches hang down. I've seen people get three-inch pipe, drill a few holes in the side, put a cap on the bottom, fill it with soil and plant tomatoes or strawberries in it. You could probably do the same thing with peas or beans. Since the plant hangs out the side, you can get to the fruit or tomatoes easily—just don't let the soil dry out. I've also seen pictures where enterprising apartment dwellers with roof access place the plants on the roof so they can open a window to water or pick the produce.

On the Church Web site, there is a great resource that tells you what amazing things you can grow in containers: Beans, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and much more. I've even heard of people growing tomatoes and other veggies indoors during the winter because, let's face it, there's nothing quite like a home-grown tomato (unless you're like my crazy sister and doesn't like tomatoes). For specific details about the size of the pot you'll need, the best time of year, how big the plant will get, and how long it takes to mature, visit the article Gardening in Containers,

And if all you have is a postage stamp-sized flower bed, throw some veggies in there. I actually grew several monster-sized, sidewalk-swallowing, bent-on-world-domination tomato plants in my front yard last year. After killing most of my winter-sewn seedlings, I wasn't about to yank any useful plants that grew on their own, even if I hadn't intended them to be there. You can see in this picture that they stretch across the sidewalk and take up at least six feet of the next flower bed. All of the plants behind the butterfly bush are tomatoes. They also hung down the window well. This picture was taken a couple of days before I pulled them out. I still have a dozen or more pints of tomatoes in my pantry that I bottled at the end of the summer.

An added bonus to the better-tasting food, is the cost. A six-pack of tomato plants that survive to produce something in the fall will give a family plenty to eat, and some to freeze or bottle besides—even if the pants aren't set to take over the world.

Return to the Neighborhood

No comments: