Container Gardening

Mesclun and Romaine lettuce
I apologize for the wonky formatting. I’m not sure why, but my changes won’t save.

I’ve been meaning to write about this year’s container garden, which has been growing happily for a few weeks now. We’ve had a really nice spring, save 4 days of what’s really extreme heat for early June, which I’m surely not complaining about given the condition of much of the country. I started my little garden mainly from plants from the Farmer’s Market, which opened in the city a few weeks ago. I have to take 2 buses to get there, but it’s totally worth it. Most of my plants are being grown nearly organically: the majority of them are from Atlas Farm, an organic farm in western Massachusetts; most of them I potted with organic soil. A few, however, have some really old Miracle Grow soil mixed in from last year’s very early containers. I didn’t have any new soil yet, and figured I’d reuse/recycle. So nearly organic, for the most part, will have to do. This first photo is my favorite container out there: it’s a window box that contains a small flat of mesclun and another of romaine. I just added the romaine and I’m a little afraid it may be overcrowded, but we shall see. We’ve already each eaten two salads from the mesclun alone, and it’s due for another pruning. Maybe tomorrow we’ll have some. Atlas sells these flats for $2.50 each at the Copley Square Farmer’s Market.

Regular basil, heavily pruned This here is another Atlas plant, a regular Italian basil. I love basil and can’t get enough of it in this summer. This was a pretty small plant when I bought it a few weeks ago now; it looks small here, but that’s because I gave it a serious pruning last night and made pesto for some fettucine. We ate that with some swiss chard, also from the Atlas Farm, and some garlic scapes from a farm I can’t think of now. Scapes are tasty–I’ve never had them before, and figured I’d give it a go. They’re kind of like garlicky scallions.

I like basil so much I thought I’d start a few seeds. I hope thinning them out won’t be necessary, or if it is, a huge hassle. But I want lots and lots of pesto to freeze for winter, which I don’t want to think about now, but there it is
Regular basil seedlings

Celebrity tomatoes And here’s this year’s tomato plant, also care of Atlas Farm. I wanted to get plum tomatoes, but this one, a Celebrity variety, claims it’ll grow well in containers. I hope so. I’d like to still get my hands on some heirloom plants, but I haven’t seen any yet this summer. My husband, on the other hand, with an eye to moving in the next six weeks, thinks I have more than enough plants already.

Like this Thai basil, which smells spicier than it tastes, but is delicious nonetheless in a stirfry:
Thai Basil, in need of water

And this rosemary:

And that’s about it. I have some cherry tomato seedlings started, but they’re only an inch tall so I don’t think they’ll really make it for this season. I have some swiss chard seeds to plant, too, after my first seedlings croaked several months ago. Those I might wait until late summer to put in soil, as the chard at the market right now is so tasty and pretty inexpensive.

If you’ve never gardened before, container gardening–and with herbs–is a great and easy way to start. Any garden center will have little plants available, which is a heck of a lot simpler than starting from seed. Seeds and I, as a rule, aren’t friends. But as long as they’ll pair up with a local farm and I can buy the little plants, it all works out.


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