“The Edible Container Garden” – Published in Hilton Head Monthly – March 2010

The Edible Container Garden

Edible Window Container Box
Edible Window Box

March is the beginning of springtime here in the lowcountry. I love to watch the marsh begin its seasonal and gradual shift to green. The trees take on that fresh chartreuse color and our lawns begin their rebirth. The color green takes on a multitude of shades this time of year. Life’s cycle begins again as our landscape awakens and sets forth new leaves, sprouts and blossoms.

A new trend in our evolving Green industry is the edible landscape. Growing our own food reconnects us to Mother Earth, delights our children, and is rich in health benefits. The backyard vegetable garden can be a culinary delight and a gardeners’ oasis. It can also be quite the time consuming, back breaking endeavor that quickly gets taken over by weeds and insects. If this is what has shied you away from growing your own food, I invite you to give edible containers a try. You might be surprised at the multitudes of fruits and vegetables that will thrive in a pot.

A few basics to keep in mind will help you further your success. Choosing a large enough container, that will allow for ample root growth and keep watering needs to a minimum, is key. Organic soil mixes, compost, and fertilizers are the preferred choice. A sunny location away from deer and rabbits is ideal.

Herbs are the classic choice for containers. I like to keep a few favorites on my deck for cooking. Rosemary is probably one of the easiest and most reliable in our area. Mint can be invasive in the ground and for that reason I prefer to keep mine in a pot. Chives, thyme, and oregano are other perennial herbs that do well here year round. Parsley, cilantro, and sage are wonderful additions to the winter container. They thrive in cooler temperatures, but will decline during the heat of our summers. Basil is my choice summer annual herb to grow and there are numerous cultivars to choose from including: Italian, Greek, Thai and Lemon varieties. ‘Red Rubin’ is just one of a purple type that is as pretty as is tasty.

Tops on my list of vegetables to grow in containers are peppers. They make great plants and love our heat. All types will work from the sweet Bells to the hot Chiles. It’s best to wait until May to plant, since they do not care for cool temperatures even at night. Second on my list is the beloved tomato. Cherry and Grape varieties are easy and prolific. There are many dwarf forms of vegetables on the market these days. Beans, cucumbers, squash, and eggplant can all be easily contained and are quite attractive. During cooler weather try some colorful additions such as gourmet lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, and beets.

Fruits make wonderful container grown plants. Topiary Citrus trees can be stunning and produce a multitude of delectables. For something different, try a dwarf banana, avocado, persimmon or natal plum. Strawberries have gorgeous foliage that cascades making them a fabulous underplanting.

Combining different edibles into one container in a pleasing array of textures and colors is what I find the most fun. I like to use edible flowers in my mixed pots. Purple basil, orange marigolds, and lemon thyme is vibrant with life. Red beets with calendulas could be substituted in the winter months. Eggplant blends beautifully with creeping rosemary.

Growing edibles in containers is rewarding, fun and tasty. Bon appetite!

Grow your own edible container garden by Karen Geiger published in Hilton Head Monthly