[April 15, 2014]Don't let a lack of time or
space get in the way of gardening your way to a healthy lifestyle.
Plant a container of nutritious vegetables and herbs. Include a few
planters on the front porch, back patio or right outside the kitchen
All that's needed is some potting mix, fertilizer, plants and a
container with drainage holes. A 15- to 24-inch-diameter pot or 24-
to 36-inch-long window box is a good starting size. Bigger
containers hold more plants and moisture longer, so they can be
watered less frequently.
Check containers daily and water
thoroughly as needed. Self-watering pots need less frequent
watering, allowing busy gardeners and travelers the opportunity to
grow plants in pots with minimal care.
Fill the container with a well-drained potting mix. Read the
label on the container mix bag. Add a slow-release organic nitrogen
fertilizer, like Milorganite (milorganite.com),
at planting for better results with less effort. This provides small
amounts of nutrients throughout most of the season and eliminates
the need to mix and water in fertilizer throughout the growing
season. Sprinkle a bit more on the soil surface at midseason or when
changing out the plantings.
Mix colorful flowers with nutritious vegetables for attractive,
healthy results. Bright Lights Swiss chard, pansies (their flowers
are edible), colorful leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes and trailing
ivy make a great cool-season combination. Fresh-from-the-container
garden vegetables make the best-tasting salads, and the greens
provide vitamins A and C as well as calcium. Use the pansy flowers
to dress up a salad or frozen in ice cubes for an added gourmet
touch to beverages.
For summer, use a tomato, pepper, eggplant or peas, beans and
cucumbers trained on a trellis. All are packed full of nutrients and
make a great vertical accent. Surround the towering vegetables with
purple basil, tri-color sage, carrots, beets and a colorful trailing
annual like verbena, lantana or bidens.
Don't forget to squeeze in a few onions or garlic. The fragrant
foliage can be decorative, and these vegetables help lower blood
sugar and cholesterol, while aiding in digestion.
So be creative and add a few small-scale, attractive vegetables
high in nutritional value to a variety of containers this season.
[By MELINDA MYERS]
Melinda Myers is a gardening expert, TV
and radio host, author, and columnist with a master's degree in
horticulture and more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She
has written over 20 gardening books, including "Can't Miss Small
Space Gardening." She hosts The Great Courses "How to Grow Anything"
DVD series and the nationally syndicated "Melinda's Garden Moment"
segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for
Birds & Blooms magazine. Her website,
offers gardening videos and tips.