Saturday, April 7, 2012

Container gardening and easy DIY herb markers...

Container/Urban gardening has become a super hot topic over recent years...

This particular photo is from my friend Berit, taken of  her stunning urban rooftop garden overlooking gorgeous Portland.  I know- breathtaking!  If you are prepared for a serious case of  lifestyle envy, check out her Twitpic feed HERE

As the desire to eat clean, while living as green and sustainably as possible becomes priority for many - also comes the realization that MOST do not boast the perfect yard for a garden!

Myself included.

Hence, why I wanted to do this post as there ARE inexpensive and simple options for those of you who are city dwellers, renters, or simply lack the proper green space.  All that you need is sunshine, water, and a little ingenuity.

As for my house, while we boast a relatively sizable yard in the burbs... we have a less than ideal yard for a garden.  Our obstacles, thank you Google Satellite:

The "fully-fenced backyard with ideal sunny Southern exposure" is the ticket, right?  Wrong!  Unfortunately, what Google Maps doesn't indicate is that our backyard has relatively poor drainage.  In addition, it is also houses pre-teen necessities like a trampoline. 

Simply, a backyard garden would monopolize our ONLY private entertaining and living space... a sacrifice that my family is not willing to make.

What we do have in our backyard (in addition to a lower flagstone patio), however, is a spacious 2-story deck right off our kitchen.... 

It isn't glamorous though it is a wonderful casual place to enjoy evening meals and early AM coffee Spring-Fall. My boys do their homework out here in the afternoon with a snack.  Steve and I relax late at night, share a bottle of wine, and watch the stars.   It is also is the IDEAL place to grow veggies and herbs with Southern exposure and direct vicinity to our kitchen...
4 breeds of lettuce and spinach just steps from our fridge!  NOTE:  Last summer, I did not buy lettuce from the grocery store ONE time before the 1st frost.  This is the container that we use, times 3- contemplating a 4th, though shorten the height by one pole.  It is attractive and super durable- I HIGHLY recommend it for this purpose!

We grow a small amount of strawberries, green peppers, and tomatoes...

... and 13 fresh herbs that we cook with all summer and preserve for the winter:

Fresh dill for dips.  Fresh mint for mojitos.  Fresh oregano and basil for our spaghetti sauce.  Fresh lemon balm and lavender for herbal tea right outside of my kitchen!   I could go on and on, though will simply say that I LOVE MY HERBS! Period.

Steve kindly added a back brace for the herbs on the rail to ensure no blow-overs...

This location for our family is convenient and easy as far as care, use, and harvesting goes.  When/if we need to remove/move the pots for entertaining- they can disappear within minutes

With the hectic pace of life of 2 kids/2 jobs/a lot of travel/etc, if it wasn't easy ... we wouldn't do it.  Container gardening allows us to have gorgeous /healthy fresh produce on hand and teach our boys where their food comes from without the hassle/care of a full-sized garden and while saving a substantial amount of money.  Win/win.

The only con?


In other words, it is paramount to  me that it stays tidy and well-maintained or it could easily become an eye sore. One way to aid the aesthetics?  Get rid of the tacky plastic plant markers...

I appreciate the info and NEED the info,  though NOT the eye sore. In searching for something more natural, consistent, and appealing to the eye, I came up with this design after much time digging for ideas on Pinterest

I'm pleased.  30 minutes to make, simple, green, and easy to replicate as I change or add herbs. Pertinent instructions for harvest are written on the back.

Kindergarten photo tutorial:


Veggies and edible plants are hearty and easy to grow, making them ideal candidates for pots or other containers.  Having them in smaller containers allows you to shift them for more/less light and water and move them in the case of inclement weather.  Hello St. Louis.  It also allows you the opportunity to move them inside when Fall arrives, should you desire to do so.

At the end of the season, or when having people over, all is easily removed.

Particularly when speaking herbs, container gardening also aids in preventing weedy garden bullies like oregano, lemon balm, or mint from taking over!  If you have grown any of these for more than 1-2 years, you know what I am referring to.  Beautiful and fragrant, yes... but almost too hearty for their own good.  Isolation is the KEY to growing an herb like oregano, lemon balm, or mint. After 5 years of herb play under my belt and after making numerous mistakes, I will go one further to say that isolation is KEY to maintaining an herb garden in general.

Needless to say, I am a huge proponent of urban gardening.  It has enriched life here in my house, most definitely...