Ornamental Vegetable Containers

Ornamental Vegetable Containers

Part of Ep. 1401 Pot It!

At the West Madison Agricultural Research Station, learn how  vegetables and herbs lend themselves to containers and the ratio of water, soil and fertilizer they'll need to flourish in those containers.

Premiere date: Mar 04, 2006

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Not all of us have this much land or this much energy for a vegetable garden. Here's another idea. We're at West Madison Agricultural Research station. I'm with Judy Reith-Rozelle, the assistant superintendent. Judy, we think of containers for herbs and flowers. You've created a veritable vegetable garden in containers. And it's a great idea not just for people who have a little patio, but for those with limited mobility. I have trouble with my knees. These are a lot easier for me to get to. It's a great idea. But the last plant I ever think of would be a pumpkin plant. Why are you holding these flowers?

Judy:
Because you can grow pumpkins in a big pot. If you keep them very happy with a lot of fertilizer and a good media, they're very beautiful. The foliage can be different colors.

Shelley:
The pattern on the leaves is incredible.

Judy:
It's just gorgeous. The flowers in the early morning are bright orange, and you wake up to that on your patio. It’s very pretty. You can have fun with your children growing pumpkin vines.

Shelley:
They can watch every step of the way. But the vines take a lot of room. That isn't an issue? It's not the plant itself that's the problem. We can just drape the vines over the patio or railing?

Judy:
Oh, yes, it's very pretty. You can put up any kind of trellis and grow them on it. But the pot itself as long as you provide all the media that they need the fertilizer, the water and good potting media it'll be as happy as if it's out in the garden.

Shelley:
Well, it looks incredibly happy. What's the secret? How are you keep it so happy?

Judy:
Well, we use a potting mix a media that has no soil in it.

Shelley:
So, it's not dirt from the backyard.

Judy:
Right, you don't want to use dirt from the backyard it gets compacted. It has diseases in it that might cause problems when you bring it into a pot where it's contained. So, this is nice and light, the roots can go down. The plants are happy.

Shelley:
So, when we go shopping, it's soil-less sterile potting mix or media.

Judy:
You can find it on the bag. And the other thing is fertilizer. We use a slow-release fertilizer. This will last up to two to three months which is what these pots are going to last in this kind of environment. And you put on a certain amount. And it slow releases and keeps feeding the plants all summer long. Because in parts of the state there's very high pH water.

Shelley:
Alkaline, basically?

Judy:
Yes, Alkaline. You want to come back in every three or four weeks with an acid-loving fertilizer. This is water soluble. Just pour it on the plants and it keeps the pH in the potting media down. You will have fewer problems with the micro-nutrients.

Shelley:
What parts of the state have that problem?

Judy:
Most of the southwest would have lots of problems.

Shelley:
So, we need to pay attention to that. Obviously, it's working, because look at these guys. Water is another issue. You've left the basins on. I always thought that when I have a pot outside take the basin off, so it doesn't get waterlogged.

Judy:
Well, in hot, dry conditions you really need a reservoir for the plants so they can pull water up. When we have this dense of a planting they're sucking up water constantly. You'd need to be out there watering twice a day. This gives you a reserve.

Shelley:
So, we could even use a deeper reservoir if we had to go away for a couple days. You look at how dense these are, it's really incredible. Not only do you have pumpkins planted, though, you've got all sorts of wonderful choices that all look happy. Let's talk about what's in some of these.

Judy:
What we're trying to do here is have a multi-layered planting so that you have the tall plant and you can have plants all around. We have leaf lettuce, beans and Swiss chard. You can harvest the Swiss chard for stir-fry or salads. You have leaf lettuce, which will keep growing. Then, you have the beans that will come up.

Shelley:
So, you're trying to get more use out of these containers instead of a head lettuce, where you get one harvest. Especially if this is your only option you want these to last longer. So, cut and come again type plants.

Judy:
Really a multi-harvest of all of those. In this one we have a Red Russian kale which is really good for salads, stir-fry, or whatever.

Shelley:
And very cold hardy so it will last later in the year, too.

Judy:
That's the wonderful thing about these. Until a hard frost, you could harvest the kale. Then, you have beans...

Shelley:
With beautiful flowers. I just can't believe how pretty these are.

Judy:
It adds a real pretty pot to the patio so it's not just functional, but it's beautiful.

Shelley:
Then, of course, you've got the classic tomato. Again, look at this, Judy. You've got healthy tomatoes coming already. You've got it crammed with more salad. This is almost like a salad container.

Judy:
Yes, it is, and we'll be harvesting more salad this week and we have some peas hanging down here because they'll cascade down the pot.

Shelley:
So, a couple containers like this would do pretty good for a small family.

Judy:
Yes, it would, quite well.

Shelley:
Some great ideas, Judy, thank you. Remember, you have mobility, you can move the containers. You can protect them from deer, as well and they're pretty.

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