In only a few weeks this quick-and-easy container salad garden will start serving up fresh goodies. Add cherry tomatoes and there are your salads.
pot is about 12 inches tall and 12 inches across at the top
- somewhere outside
- > 8 hours of daily sun
- Check out another easy container veggie garden that also works in this size container.
- bucket or 12′ diameter x 12″deep pot or Dollar Store upside down planter made from recycled shopping bags.
- 1 plant will bear a steady crop of bite-size fruits
- 1 cherry tomato plant (find an organic variety at a farmer’s market or nursery).
- 1 tomato cage. 1 20 quart bag organic potting mix. Some organic plant feed
grow just one plant, and it will bear a steady crop of bite-size fruits.
1 cherry tomato plant (find an organic variety at a farmer’s market or nursery)
1 tomato cage, the largest size your retailer carries. (a tomato cage is just what you guess: wire mesh you place around your tomato plant to support it as it grows. Depending on the variety, cherry tomatoes can grow as tall as 10 feet. Just avoid any that look as though they’re covered in plastic. That’s usually vinyl, a toxic plastic that can expose your plants to lead and other undesirable substances.)
1 20-quart bag of organic potting mix.
1. Drill ¼- to ½-inch holes every few inches around the bottom edge, plus another few in the center bottom so excess water can drain. If you’ve bought a planter with drainage holes already, you can skip this step.
2. Pick a location. For best fruiting, you need a location where the plant will get at least 8 hours of direct sun each day (the roots can be in the shade). You can skip the tomato cage—and save a little cash—if you have a spot close to a balcony or railing, which you can use to support the tomato vines.
3. If you do go with a cage, insert the pointy end into the planter, and then fill the planter with potting mix.
4. Water until the potting mix is evenly moist. Top it off with a little more potting mix, adding enough so it comes to about ½ inch below the rim of the planter and making sure the soil surface is level.
5. Dig a small hole in the center of the planting mix. Carefully remove your tomato plant from its original pot (unless the pot is designed to dissolve), and slide it into the hole, planting it deep enough so only the top four to six leaves show once you cover it back up with potting mix.
6. Water every two or three days to keep the soil evenly moist (in hot, dry weather you may need to water every day). Once a week, feed your plant organic fertilizer according to the label directions.
7. As the plant grows, the branches will start to poke through the holes in your tomato cage. Push them back inside so the plant doesn’t droop.
Time to Pick!
Most cherry tomato plants will start flowering in about a month. You’ll see flowers appear that are followed by tiny green fruits. After a few weeks, those turn into full-blown cherry tomatoes you can harvest. A really ripe cherry tomato will come off its stem very easily and is well worth waiting an extra day for, so hold off on picking them. Pluck individual ripe fruits every day for best results. With luck, your plant will continue to produce right up until frost. If the weather turns unseasonably cool or an early frost threatens, tuck an old sheet over and around the plant to extend your harvest season.
1 packet lettuce seeds (or 1 six-pack seedlings from a nursery)
1 pound onion “sets” (or 1 packet onion seeds)
1 packet cucumber seeds (or one seedling from a nursery)
1 64-quart bag organic potting mix
1 bottle liquid organic plant food
1. Poke ¼- to ½-inch holes every few inches around the bottom edges of the pan so excess water can drain. (If you put the holes in the flat bottom and then put the planter on a flat surface, it may not drain as well.)
2. Put your planter where you want it and then fill it with potting mix. Trust me, it is easier to carry the potting mix in its bag than in the planter.
3. Water until the potting mix is evenly moist. Top it off with a little more potting mix, adding enough so it comes to about ½ inch below the rim of the planter and making sure the soil surface is level.
4. Plant two cucumber seeds (or the cucumber seedling) in the center. Poke two shallow holes an inch or so apart with your finger, drop a seed into each, and cover. (If both sprout you’ll snip off the smaller seedling after a few weeks, leaving just one plant.)
5. Plant your lettuce in two horizontal rows about 3 inches away from each of the pan’s shorter ends. Use your finger to draw each row and then sprinkle a couple of seeds near each end and in the middle, or plant a seedling in each location. Press lettuce seeds firmly into the potting mix with the ball of your finger, but don’t cover them, as lettuce often germinates better if it has light shining on it. Water carefully around the lettuce seeds until the seedlings appear and send down roots, so as not to wash the tiny seeds away.
6. Plant your onions along the two remaining sides. Plant six to 12 of your onion sets, or about 12 to 24 seeds (that should keep you well supplied with green onions on a weekly basis) 1 inch from the edge of your container, about 4 to 6 inches apart. Make sure the pointed end of each set is up and completely buried. Repeat this step once a week, placing the new sets or seeds at least an inch away from onions that are already growing.
7. Water every two or three days to keep the soil evenly moist (in hot, dry weather you may need to water every day). Once a week, feed organic fertilizer according to the label directions.
Time to pick!
• In about three weeks you can gently pull out or snip off extra lettuce seedlings, leaving the most productive plant in each spot, and eat up the “thinnings” in a salad. A week or two later, you can start harvesting your full-grown lettuce leaves. Gently bend them down and away from the plant so the leaves separate from the stem, leaving the center of the plant and the roots intact. By harvesting only the outer leaves, your six plants will continue to feed you for many weeks, or even all summer and late into the fall. If the center of the lettuce plants start to grow tall, that means they’re preparing to flower, and the leaves will get bitter. Plant more lettuce seeds right away to replace those plants, and cut the old plants off at the surface of the soil.
• Onions will be ready to harvest in as little as three weeks, a bit longer if grown from seeds. They’re ready to eat when they are as big as you want them. Leave them longer and the bottoms will start to thicken into bulbs. If you continue to plant more sets (or seeds) every week, you will have green onions to harvest all spring, summer, and autumn.