Grit Blogs > The Open Book

Neophyte Gardener

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor


Tags: garden, tomato,

Jean TellerMost people who like to play in the dirt have probably had their gardens planned for a long time now. I suspect it’s actually a constant thing – a continual revising of the garden in one’s head, imagining the colors, the textures, the produce. How it will look and all work together. Even dreaming of the harvest to come, and the preserving of the wonderful treasures coming from your very own garden, I’m sure are part of mental gardening.

Those of us who haven’t gardened much in the past (or none at all, as the case may be), are just now thinking of a semblance of a garden. In my case, it also helps that the six sedum my sister and I transplanted last fall are all, yes, count them, all, showing green. Still no word from the hostas (we split and transplanted eight) on how they survived the transplant and winter. Remember my Garden Headaches post?

So green showing in my front garden, houseplants that are doing well, a series of novels set in a greenhouse (lots of talk of flowers, seeds, propagation, grafting and the like) and a kitchen garden article in our May/June issue of Grit have all combined to start my mind whirling.

I’m going to container garden this year.

How many tomato seedlings do I plant?

Well, that’s the plan anyway. I’d like to start with at least two containers on the back porch (it’s a slab of concrete outside my sliding glass doors, but I call it a patio) with one tomato plant, at least, and the other … Well, I haven’t made up my mind yet.

I miss homegrown tomatoes. A former neighbor planted almost half his backyard in tomato plants, and he was kind enough to keep me supplied with gorgeous fruit all summer long. I’d like that experience again, just with fewer numbers, I hope.

Yummy, tomatoes fresh from the vine.

So I’ve decided. It’s time to get over my dislike of playing in the dirt. I can get my hands dirty, I can handle the bugs and the heat. I can do this.

Now all I have to do is decide on the containers!

Any suggestions for this neophyte gardener?

A tomato plant in a container sounds like a good solution to my need for fresh tomatoes.

 

Photos from top: iStockphoto.com/pixonaut; dirkr; kkgas
jean teller_1
3/24/2009 12:02:41 PM

Cindy, thank you!!!! Your comment was exactly what I was hoping for, and I probably would have gone for the lightweight potting soil too. LOL This project is at the top of my to-do list for this weekend. We'll see how I do!


cindy murphy
3/22/2009 6:19:16 PM

Hey, Jean. Yes, you can do this, and yay for you! Do you plan on some other veggie type for your second container, or going for an ornamental look with that one? Either way, I believe the most important element in container gardening is soil. Pfft to those soil-less everything-you-need-in-one-bag expensive bagged potting mixtures. They're too light...especially for your heavy-feeding tomatoes. You need something with more bulk - something that'll stand up all season, (those mixtures tend to turn to a cardboard-like consistency after a while). If you can find "Baccto Professional Potting Soil" out there, get your hands on a bag. It's the BEST stuff ever. Mix that with either a bag of compost, peat, manure, or regular old potting soil - your choice. (Psst - you're going to have to get your hands dirty here. Have fun - pretend you're mixing meatloaf.) If no Baccto, use the soil-less stuff but still mix it with something heavier. But wait...you're not done yet. Mix in some slow-release fertilizer - Osmocote is wonderful stuff for both vegetables and ornamentals. Next...and you'll be really, really glad you did this, especially since you mentioned your pots are sitting on concrete...use a moisture-retaining polymer such as Soil-Moist. These are little crystals that swell with watering, so that your pots don't dry out. Tomatoes, especially, do not like inconsistant watering practices, and things in pots tend to dry out much quicker than they do in the ground - and will do so even quicker still setting on concrete. Very, very important sidenote: more is not better here; do not use more of this product than reccomended on the package. Too much and it will swell so much it can actually push your plants out of the soil. Have fun, and good luck.