Seasoned gardeners often use terms such as companion planting and intercropping, vertical and container gardening, intensive and succession planting. With just a few seeds, a container and a trellis, you can easily do all of these in your own garden.
Fill a container with nice potting soil and a little composted manure. Add a trellis of your choice, depending on the size of the container. We used a large wooden barrel with a five-foot-tall circular trellis.
On one side of the planter, sow pea seeds at the proper time for your area. Here in USDA Zone 5/6 that is mid-March. They will soon sprout and begin to attach themselves to the trellis. Even though the roots will all be on one side, the vines themselves will sprawl about. If you want, you can add some lettuce or spinach seeds inside the trellis area. Later in the season—May for us—add some cucumber seeds on the other side. These will grow up the trellis as well, and about the time the peas are done the cucumbers will be taking over the planter. The cucumbers will help shade the greens from too much heat, which will keep them from bolting a little longer.
When the peas are finished growing, and if the cucumbers have not taken over, you can replenish the soil and plant a short-season pole bean. Be careful removing the spent plants that you do not pull up the cucumbers as well.
Of course, always be wary of replanting any area that had suffered from disease or tiny pests that may still be lingering in the soil.
Now see how easy that was? By growing this way, you also eliminated the time spent weeding because there was not as much area for the unwanted plants to grow. You also increased the amount of harvest you received from just a small area of the garden.
Look at you. You rock!
Gardening Jones grows vegetables and more at her home in Pennsylvania. Learn more at her blog.
Learn all about growing vegetables in pots with The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward Smith.
Master all aspects of vertical gardening with Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces by Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet.
Make smart use of your space and resources by working with nature through permaculture. Everything you need to know is completely accessible in Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway.