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Container growing for a novice with toddler

(6 Posts)
TheABC Tue 05-Apr-16 20:48:52

DS (2.5 yrs) loves our garden and generally being outside and getting muddy. As I start maternity leave next week I thought it would be a good idea to plant out some of our favorite fruits and veg, as
a) I can start teaching DS where food actually comes from and
b) it's a good way to play in the mud and productive.

As we are the -slaves- owners of two lunatic cats, everything edible needs to go into pots or containers.

Please could you give me your tips and advice for containers? In particular:

- The best system for growing strawberries (and your recommended varieties). I was thinking about a stacking pot system - we are strawberry addicts in my household, so I really do want to grow a lot and keep a regular supply going. So, ideally a June variety combined with a double-harvest (everlasting) type?

- What success have you had with companion planting e.g basil + tomatoes.

- What fruit and veg would you start off with? I will not have a lot of time
once the new baby is born, so they have to be fairly self-sufficient outside of a bit of feeding/weeding/daily watering.

I love the idea of fresh strawberries, tomatoes and sweet peppers, together with some cut & grow again lettuce (we have a very sunny conservatory). I am also playing around with the idea of an A-frame "pea-tent".

TIA for any help you can give. :-)

hesterton Tue 05-Apr-16 21:11:15

Growing stuff to eat in funny containers is fun. Salad leaves in old wellies, mint in a metal mop bucket, a pepper plant in an old handbag. I grow nasturtiums in a colander - nice peppery leaves and pretty flowers for salads - and was given some industrial sized bean cans from the school kitchen for tomato growing. Wire them to a fence and watch it grow. Plastic mineral water bottles cut in half work well too.

Basil is much better home grown than those weedy supermarket 'living herbs'.

And you could try the native American three sisters grouping - a pumpkin, an ear of sweet corn and some beans. They help each other if you plant them beside each other.

And a final tip - if you have a micro brewery near by, ask for a sack of mulching from the brewing process - worms adore it if you dig it into the soil. Same with coffee grounds from your local coffee shop. Get you toddler involved with recycling!

Have fun smile

TheABC Tue 05-Apr-16 22:09:37

Thanks, Hesterton - good tips! Definitely interested in the three sisters grouping with the pumpkins. Hmm...added microbrewery to the list.

shovetheholly Wed 06-Apr-16 15:02:42

I am also the owner of a lunatic cat! There are ways of protecting things that are grown in the ground from their ravages, e.g. using cloches until the plants are large enough, or sticking bits of twig in the ground at regular intervals to stop them digging up the loose soil. This is worth doing as things like pole beans (easy, pretty, fun, high-yielding) and strawberries really like it in the ground. It's hard to get them enough fertiliser and water in pots. Also, you can then grow pumpkins, which is great for little ones!

Salad is great in containers, and doesn't take long to reach a point where it can be eaten! Loads of people grow a few potatoes in bags these days too, but an even funner thing would be to get a Tomtato, which is a graft of a tomato onto a potato. It means you get potatoes underground and tomatoes above. Grafting is a bit of a skill, but you can buy them from places like Thompson and Morgan.

TheABC Thu 07-Apr-16 22:08:20

Sounds good, shovetheholly. I just don't want to bite off more than I can chew!

shovetheholly Fri 08-Apr-16 10:39:24

I think that's very wise! Start small and build up. Happy gardening!

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