How to Grow Perennials and Stem Vegetables
Often disappointing when store-bought, these vegetables are a gourmet treat when freshly picked. They are easy to grow, and perennial types suit the ornamental garden.
No matter what theme your garden pot will have there are a few things you have to do to prepare. First, you need a large, sturdy pot such as a terra-cotta planter or a whisky barrel. In the bottom of the pot place a piece of terra cotta over the drain hole. Then fill the pot with 2" of gravel. Over the gravel lay a piece of landscape fabric to keep the potting soil from mixing with the gravel. This will help the soil drain and it will keep dirt from running out the bottom of the pot.
It's best to use a high quality potting soil in a container garden. Be sure you start with a fresh unopened bag, that way you won't add diseases or pests to your pot. Today many of the potting soils you can buy have small water-retaining polymer crystals that help hold water in the soil rather than letting it drain through the bottom. You can buy these crystals separately if your potting soil doesn't have them. Most container gardens dry out quickly and the crystals help the soil stay moist and fertile. Add crystals to your pots as well as slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer. Prepare two pots, one for each of your themed container gardens.
The first pot is the herb garden in the whiskey barrel. The first step is to put the largest plants, the rosemary, in the back of the pot and added more potting soil (Image 1). Next add three Spicy Globe Basil plants, which have a very nice aroma, and for a splash of color add purple basil (Image 2). At the front place Spearmint and Lemon Thyme so they will hang over the side of the barrel. They also have a very nice aroma. Finally, add a little more soil and then gave the herbs a good watering.
The second container will contain a collection of colorful pepper plants, from the bright red Bell Pepper to the Ornamental Peppers to the spicy yellow Habenero. Start your container with your tallest plants in the back. Depending on the height and the strength of the plant, you might need to stake it, especially if you live in a windy area. Then follow up with your medium size plants in the center and your smallest plants in the front. You are only limited by the amount of space you have in your container. Don't be afraid to add as many plants as you have room for.
Install a simple irrigation system for the new pots to make them low maintenance. You can purchase the whole kit at your local home center for around $30. First, cut the tubing to length and put a barbed connector on one end and a drip head on the other end. The kit comes with a hole-punch to cut small holes in the water hose for the drip tubes. Make the holes and push the barbed connector through the holes to connect the drip tubes. Next place drip tubes in each of the pots, putting two or three drip heads in each one. Turn on the water to make sure the system is working and the plants were getting plenty of water.
To make sure your pots don't dry out, attach a hose timer to the water spigot. The timer will let you choose when to water the pots and for how long to let the water run. Attach the new drip system to the timer so that the plants will be watered even when you're not around or you forget to turn the water on. Set timer to run everyday for 15 minutes. This will be enough to keep the pots moist, but not too wet. The nice thing about a drip system is its flexibility. You can move your pots and drip heads around, you can change the timer and mostly your garden will be stress-free.