by Jes-c French, Somervell County Master Gardener
This was my first year to try vegetable gardening. Living somewhere without a yard of my own, I had a suspicion that the landlord wouldn’t appreciate my digging up their flawless landscaping. In a world full of apartments, however, I am far from alone in this struggle, and a quick look to the internet turned up endless articles and suggestions for people who want to garden but have no space. The most frequent recommendation I saw was to use containers for growing plants, and that is just what I decided to do.
As I began researching, I attempted to take the things I learned about gardening in general and apply them to container gardening. I quickly found that a good plan is crucial before you even start the physical gardening. According to Joseph Masabni and Patrick Lillard, “Planning includes selecting the garden location; deciding on the size of the garden; determining the types and varieties of vegetables to plant; and planning where, when, and how much of each vegetable to plant in the garden.”
Being a first time gardener, I spent a great deal of time on the planning phase, and now that I’ve made it through my first harvest I have a few ideas of my own for future plans. When I picked out containers for my garden early this year, I ended up with a variety of sizes. One container in particular was too large for me to move once it was full. When this spring brought seemingly unending rain, I could take advantage of the fact that most of my garden was portable. In the future, I will probably do away with the oversized container and stick to ones that can be moved. After all, with all the unpredictable variables in gardening, why not take advantage of having a little extra control over how much rain my plants are getting?
I’m almost embarrassed to admit the other big thing I learned the hard way, because it seems so obvious now. With many days of rain, I obviously wasn’t watering the vegetables as often. Several days could go by without my bothering to check on the garden, and while its water needs were being met, its other needs were not. It was during those times that caterpillars took over and also that I missed out on harvesting some of the vegetables that were ready to be eaten. In the future, even if I’m not going out to water, I’ll make a point to check on the garden, addressing any pest concerns and picking vegetables that are ready.