A guest post by Elizabeth Matlin
It’s high harvest time in my vegetable garden and while my large heirloom tomatoes are still green and my pole beans are just blossoming, I’ve been harvesting grape and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, garlic scapes, shallots, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, Japanese eggplants, onions, lettuce, spinach, kale, zucchini and loads of fresh herbs. When I go to the farmer’s market, I find I’m just picking up fruit and corn as my “little farm” is happily supplying the rest. After all the months of planting, watering, weeding and tending, it’s euphoric and beyond delicious to finally eat the fruits—and vegetables–of my labor. No matter how many years I garden, I know this will always be a thrill!
In addition to my community plot, I have a little harvest going right on my backyard patio. This is my second year growing more than cherry tomatoes in pots and I continue to be amazed at the amount of vegetables just one pot can yield. There’s almost no limit to what you can grow in a pot placed in the sun. Large heirloom tomatoes, bush beans, eggplants and cucumbers are my personal success stories so far. I put my pots on rollers so I can easily wheel them around the patio—a big help if your yard has moving sunlight that you want the plants to follow. I trellis trailing vines—like my cucumber—vertically in the pot with great results. The entire process—from mixing the soil and planting the seeds or plants to watering and harvesting—is a terrific way for kids to get their hands in soil and connect with nature. Then let them help you prepare the harvest in the kitchen and watch in wonder at the sight of them actually eating their veggies!
File this idea away for next spring or jump right in now by planting some beets, chard, lettuce, carrots or bush beans from seed for a fall harvest. Or see if the garden center has some herb plants on sale. My garden guru author—Edward C. Smith—has a book called Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers that has been my main resource. While I have “myself-watering” containers, this doesn’t prevent me from using all the fabulous tips the book has to offer for container gardening. I’ll soon be plucking small cucumbers from the vine to brine for pickles. Guess I’ll have to call them Patio Pickles!