Container gardening: growing edibles (Google Alert / Daily Times)

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The Daily Times

http://www.delmarvanow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070529/OPI06/705290308/-1/OPI

Container gardening: Fun and simple way to grow edibles


OCEAN PINES — Spring is the time of year when the spirit of Martha Stewart comes out in many gardeners who dream of growing flowers, herbs and enough fresh vegetables to make homemade salads every night. However, many have not grown careers out of planting seeds and may not always have the time to dedicate like Martha does. According to Laura Hunsberger, an agriculture educator in Worcester County, even though time may not allow for constant gardening, there are fun, cheap and easy ways to produce vegetation. Hunsberger spoke at a recent meeting of the Ocean Pines Garden Club about the advantages of container gardens in a presentation called, “Container Vegetable Gardening: Healthy Harvests from Small Spaces.”

Hunsberger said container gardening is a fun and simple way to grow edible gardens, and everyone from novice gardeners to college students, children and people with physical limitations can participate. “In my head I may have a beautiful garden, but time doesn’t allow that,” Hunsberger said. “Instead, container gardening is a great way to grow a vegetable and you can do it with your kids and family.” “By growing a vegetable, people are having a connection with their food source and it is just more fun and rewarding,” she said.

According to Hunsberger, everything from salad greens to peppers and tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and melons can be grown in a container garden. She said some may be more challenging and, as a tip, try asking a salesperson in a garden store what seeds are best for small-space gardening. Any garden’s success will depend on the gardener. Therefore, the number one ingredient is TLC, but location, potting soil and fertilizers are also an important part of getting started. The container plant can be put many places such as a deck, in the backyard or on the front porch. The amount of sun exposure needed will depend on the type of crop one chooses.

Hunsberger said dirt or “growing media” can come in a variety of types. She said it is best to evaluate which is best for a particular container garden and that no matter what type of growing media one chooses a fertilizer is always necessary. “The easiest and cheapest way to start a container garden is with a five-gallon bucket,” Hunsberger said. She said by obtaining a five-gallon bucket and following a few easy steps such as drilling holes in the bottom, a person can have a mini-garden for vegetables and herbs that recycles water and nutrients. Typically, two to three plants can be accommodated in this type of container, she said.

“It’s about as cheap as you can get, and is reusable and recyclable,” Hunsberger said. “You can also get artistic with it and paint the bucket to make it really unique. So, if you’re doing it with the grandkids, it is a fun way to spend the afternoon,” she said.

For more information on container gardens go to http://www.mastergardener. umd.edu/gardeningtopics.

Reach Amber McDonald at 410-213-9442, Ext. 15, or amcdonald@dmg.gannett.com

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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