Create a container garden that's a feast for the eyes and the taste buds with these backyard ideas from our expert.
By Melinda Myers
Love the look of pretty flowers and the flavor of fresh veggies? You can have both—all in one pot. It’s easy to grow a container or two of nutritious vegetables, edible flowers and herbs on your front porch, patio or right outside your kitchen door.
Mix colorful flowers with nutritious vegetables for attractive, healthy results. Bright Lights Swiss Chard, pansies (their flowers are edible), colorful leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes, and trailing ivy make a great cool season combination. Fresh-from-the-container-garden vegetables make the best tasting salads, and the greens provide vitamins A and C as well as calcium. Use the pansy flowers to dress up a salad or freeze them in ice cubes for an added gourmet touch to beverages.
For summer, pot up tomatoes, peppers, eggplants or peas, beans, and cucumbers trained on a decorative trellis. All are packed full of nutrients and make a great vertical accent. Surround the towering vegetables with purple basil, tri-color sage, carrots, beets and a colorful trailing annual like verbena, lantana, or bidens.
Don’t forget to tuck in a few onions or garlic. They’re fragrant when crushed and have been found to help lower blood sugar and cholesterol, while aiding in digestion.
How to Get Started:
All you need is some potting mix, fertilizer, plants and a container with drainage holes. A 15- to 24-inch-diameter pot or 24- to 36-inch-long window box is a good starting size. Bigger containers hold more plants and moisture longer.
Check containers daily and water thoroughly as needed. Self-watering pots need less frequent watering, allowing busy gardeners and travelers to grow plants with minimal care.
Fill the container with a well-drained potting mix, following directions on the label of the container mix bag. Add a slow release organic nitrogen fertilizer, like Milorganite, at planting for better results with less effort. It provides small amounts of nutrients throughout most of the season and eliminates the need to mix and water in fertilizer throughout the growing season. Sprinkle a bit more on the soil surface midseason or when changing out your plantings.
With so many small-scale, attractive and nutritious plants and backyard ideas to choose from, you won’t be able to contain your creativity!
About our Guest Expert: Melinda Myers is a nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist. She is a contributing editor to Birds & Blooms magazine and other publications, and maintains melindamyers.com.
Photo by Melinda Myers, LLC.