The title of this post was originally “Porch Container Gardening.” When it comes right down to it, however, the title that made the final cut is a much more accurate expression of the highlights of my week. I couldn’t have agreed more with the recent NYTimes article headline: Summer’s Treasure. When I think August, my mind goes immediately to sungold tomatoes, fortex green beans, and me-picked blueberries. Now that I’m down south in Boston (and with urban heat), I guess this summer dream can come true by the last week of July! I harvested my first cherry tomato last week and my first handful a few days ago.
Now that I’m down south in Boston, I also find myself living on the second floor of a three story apartment building. Luckily I have a porch! Living here has taught me that plants work really hard to grow and produce fruit. This survival instinct comes in handy when gardening in unconventional places. Give a plant access to mid-day and afternoon sun (even if it needs to peek out from under a roof to get it) and enough soil, and it will do the rest.
I guess there are a few more complications. Mid summer, outdoor pots need daily deep watering. Potted plants really do need enough soil. I grow my tomatoes with one or two marigolds in a four gallon bucket. Peppers, basil, baby greens, dill, mint and cilantro can grow in smaller pots. Fruiting plants generally produce slightly smaller fruit but the flavor is amazingly concentrated. Leafy plants are often smaller than their in-ground friends. Container gardeners must also keep an eye out for nutrition deficiencies. Using a organic fertilizer meant for general growth and plant health about once a month is probably a good idea. To tempt pollinators up to my tomatoes, I also make sure to have some flowers blooming among the veggies. I take advantage of the ceiling above to trellis climbing or viney plants.
I’ve loved my porch gardens over the past few years. They grow and evolve, but a few things are consistant: they green up the porch – our outdoor room for the summer, they significantly supplement my veggie intake during the summer and fall, they solicit curious craning-neck glances from passers by and are a great start to many conversations!