Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creative Container Garden Ideas in the Desert

 Dear Folks,

I just finished up a 3-part workshop preceded by an Edible Flower lecture and it is time for me to get back to serious work in the garden.  I have to harvest my garlic scapes and my new potatoes — I'm thinking a nice garlicky potato salad with a cold glass of green sun tea steeped with lemon verbena and spearmint, yum.

Back to different fun stuff in the garden.

As many of my long-time readers know I always suggest a very large container with a minimum suggestion of 2 ft wide, to maximize your success in the desert when gardening with pots

When you think pot think outside the pot for ideas for containers.  Here are two really cool ideas, one is a recycling gem of an idea, and the other one for those who may have some physical limitations.

What do you do with a 'dead' jacuzzi?

Well if you are a very creative person, you turn it into this fabulous container garden!

Hannelore G. has been a reader for years and asked me if she could make her no-longer-working Jacuzzi into a big container garden.  I asked her a couple of basic questions: sun access/orientation, could she drill holes in the bottom, could she reach the center from all sides (important so you don't have to get up and crawl over the garden to do weeding/maintenance in the center), and what did she want to grow?

I provided her with soil/drainage mixtures information, some suggested plantings for this season and look what she did with it. Awesome!  And her lovely blue door, gives a "Santa Fe" look to the whole visual appeal along with her added garden art work in the "container."

Now that is a container garden!

Next Up:  Discovery Point Retirement Community in East Mesa, is the site of this super "table garden" for residents.

Michon Jablonski and Cherie Scott, the Marketing Director and General Manager respectively, contacted me about participating in their Arbor Day celebration, but also their interest in finding a way to have a community garden for their residents.  I found plans for a table garden designed for those with physical challenges -- you can wheel right up to the table and garden, or stand comfortably -- and their Maintenance Manager, Dustin Beckstead and crew built this hell-for-stout version.  They had a planting celebration day and the garden was blessed, and off and growing!  480-559-8134

With the heat right around the corner (or tomorrow!), the selections of things to grow in pots or even in the ground gets reduced until August (which is the beginning of fall seeding in time).

I am going to do a whole blog on a variation of the three sisters garden, but here is one to give a try right now.  Sunflower, Edamame (soybean) and summer squash.

Soak the seeds for a few hours first before planting Normally I suggest soaking seeds overnight, but don't soak soybeans longer than 8 hours or they will start to ferment..  Arrange the sunflower seeds so they will be in the ‘back' or north part of the garden or pot — if you are feeling ambitious, you can put one of these pots or garden patches together each week through the first week in June — soybeans come ripe all at once on their bush, so this gives you several crops.  After planting the seeds cover the ground or soil with some dried leaves and watch for slugs — with our abundance of rain this year the slugs and snails have been out in force.  For additional visual attraction, sow impatient wallarana seeds or portulaca (moss rose) along with the Sunflower, et al.

SLUG/SNAIL TIP: Because the slugs were getting my early sunflowers and beans, I cut up paper towel cardboard tubes and toilet paper tubes into 1 inch circles and used them as "collars" around the new planted seeds and seedlings.  Nestle the collar into the soil.  The slugs and snails can't get to the plants.  The collar eventually collapses and deteriorates and you can remove it and toss it into the compost pile.

As mentioned, I will blog more about the three sisters, and in particular about sunflowers, because almost the whole plant is edible. More later :-)

GRILLING TIP: Make basting brushes from stiff herbs.  Rinse and tie woody stems together with cotton twine and bast away for added flavor to the grill.  Fruit Kababobs - try woody rosemary sprigs, soaked for an hour and thread with pineapple or other firm fruit, turn to get some grill marks on the fruit, but don't char.

And another free shipping offer from my publisher's site.  They are offering free shipping with a minimum purchase of 19.95 to any US address.  It is called the FREE summer shipping so it should be active for a while.  The special code appears on checkout, so you do not have to remember a code.  If you change your order so the amount before tax or whatever drops to less than 19.95, the free shipping is removed.  My page at the publisher site.

Have a fun time in the garden, kitchen and at the grill!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady