Grit Blogs > Chasing Dorothy

I Can Hardly Contain Myself

By Natalie K. Gould, Assistant Editor/Web Editor


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Photo of Natalie K. GouldIf you have read one of my two blogs, you know that I'm trying out container gardening for the first time. It's been a learning curve, but it's yielded some beautiful results. My joy in my homegrown tomatoes, for example, bubbles over. So you'll understand me when I say I've been dreamily browsing seed catalogs for fall crops.

Nothing quite seems so appealing to me as heading out the door in the morning and seeing my container crops snug and warm underneath a layer of hay mulch. I can almost feel the frost-bitten mornings now.

But here’s the problem: I hardly have the slightest idea what kind of fall vegetables I can plant in containers. I would love to plant garlic, but can I? What about arugula? Lavender? What about watering? Freezing? Will I need to sit outside with them at night and make sure they stay warm? If that’s what it takes, then by golly I’ll do it! Ok, maybe I won’t get that obsessive about it. I just want to be successful at this.

I’m the new kid on the block at GRIT and do not have the sage wisdom that my coworkers do, but luckily there’s a great community of gardeners, farmers and homesteaders (that would be you) who know what they’re doing.

Consider this my plea and cry for help during my very first fall gardening season. Please help me succeed and join the upper echelon (gardeners-only, cool-person club) to which my coworkers belong with their homegrown fall goodness I’m sure to see in the coming months.

If I grow lavender, I’m thinking I could make tea from it and then I can be the “oh she grows her own lavender and makes tea from it” girl. Everyone has a role here: Bryan is the beef guy, Hank is the pork and lard guy, Kasey is the brick guy, Caleb is the bow and arrow guy, many many others are the gardener guys and gals. My goal is to attain one of these distinctions and maybe even make a nameplate for my desk. “Lavender Gal.” Personalized license plate? Ok, this is getting out of hand. Paint my desk purple? Someone please tell me to stop.

Now that I’m through that digression…have you ever grown fall crops in containers? What works, what doesn’t? What are some fatal mistakes I should avoid? How big do the containers need to be? Watering, fertilizing, mulching? Most prolific crops? Ones that don’t do too well? Teach me the ways of fall gardening, and in turn, I may text you a picture of my coworkers desks that will surely become storage units for all the lavender soap and essential oil that I am destined to make. Really, one of you needs to put a cap on this.

My email is ngould@grit.com. If you have any advice, please comment or shoot me an email! Thank you so much for your help.

 

libby and dave
9/27/2012 7:22:56 PM

In addition to our herbs that grow in the ground, we also have a small herb garden in pots on our patio. This way, we can easily haul the pots indoors when a frost is imminent. This means that we can have fresh herbs all year long. Our lavender is doing especially well, and it's perfect for making Herbs de Provence, our all-time favorite seasoning. We are also having great success with cilantro, Italian persley, oregano, thyme, and sage...all in pots. Rosemary would likely be good, too, but ours in the ground is going gangbusters, and so we figured no need to try putting it in a pot.


mary carton
9/15/2012 4:06:46 AM

I like using the moisture crystals in my containers to hold water. The ones I have are organic. I've used them for several years on my tomato plants, and my maters survive the drought just fine. By the way a belated welcome to GRIT. I blog for GRIT as Rosedale Garden.


nebraska dave
8/29/2012 1:46:18 AM

Ok ok ok, Natalie, take some deep breaths. You will get through this. Unfortunately, I'm not an expert container growing person. I do know it takes more water for container plants during the summer and I did have some success with shade container plants last year. Since I didn't eat them, I dosed them with miracle grow every three weeks and watered for 10 minutes a day through automatic drip watering. That probably doesn't help much, huh. Good luck with your fall garden. Have a great day with fall container gardening.


marie james
8/24/2012 4:29:30 PM

Hi Natalie, it sounds like your office could really use a Lavender Gal! You are off to a good start! I can't say I have grown much in the fall except just letting summer crops keep going till they're finished. But I have learned about fall gardening in courses and study, and this year I'm going for it myself! Susan has some great suggestions. Is it going to get very cold where you live? I've heard that insulation around the plants is essential to keep them going in cold weather. Large containers provide this to some degree because of the mass of soil. You can also move the containers close together or surround the pots and cover the soil tops with straw or other material to help a little more. Row cover can be put over the pots at night and during cool spells. We're in the midst of a fall and winter gardening series at our blog http://rurallivingtoday.com/blog -- there's more info on row covers and other protection from the cold. Good luck--looking forward to hearing about your results and your future in the lavender field! --Marie


natalie gould
8/24/2012 3:01:34 PM

Thanks, Susan! I have round containers and definitely want to grow some greens. Herbs are also a great idea that I hadn't thought about. My basil is just taking off right now. Really hoping to grow spinach and arugula. The mums sound like a beautiful idea. Thank you for the help!


itzy bitzy farm
8/24/2012 2:54:11 PM

Hello Natalie, I have grown quite a few Fall items in containers so maybe I can give you some tips. My favorite things to grow in containers in the Fall is herbs and greens. I make a container with a small Mum plant in the center and then surround it in fourths with different varieties of lettuces. There are some that are more clod hardy than others so when shopping for seed you might be on the watch for those. Butterheads and Romaines are the most cold hardy and can be sown as late as four weeks before first frost. I like red leaf like Red Sails with the Mums cause the colors look nice for Fall. If you have a long container you could grow a quick growing variety of peas with a trellis in the back of the container for them to vine on. If it is wide enough you could grow some mini mums or even the last few marigolds that are holding on from Summer. Spinach, beet greens, kale, swiss chard are all quick growing and will keep sending up leaves as you harvest right through to freeze time if you keep them mulched. Keep in mind as with all container gardening keeping the soil moist is important. Good drainage is also important and good air circulation with part to full sun. There are varieties of Fall garlic that carries over to Spring so you could grow those. Carrots would also work well, if your containers are at least 6-8 inches deep you can grow the shorter varieties such as Touchon which is my favorite to grow. Happy Gardening and let us know how it goes. www.itzybitzyfarm.com and find us on Facebook too. Susan