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From Lallah’s GardenTime to start container gardening

Now is a good time of this year to tell you about container gardening. It’s fun! I’ve written about them before, but it is well worth repeating for our early April plants.

Your cabbage will enjoy being set out. Mama always set hers early. I remember as a very young gardener using old fruit jars damaged beyond use for canning and putting a jar over each plant. Mama said “now they have a little glass house to keep them warm until the weather is warm.” I usually took the jars off in the warm afternoon and covered the plants again after 4 p.m.

Now, let’s talk about your containers. You can use pots, plastic buckets with holes in the bottom, cardboard boxes lined with plastic, bags of potting mix with holes in the bag for your plants and at least three holes in the bottom for drainage.

What kind of soil will I use in the containers? For a new gasrderer, I suggest going to your nursery, they will have everything to mix your own soil. They also have it ready-mixed, that is my choice starting out. Fill your containers. Water the soil until it is damp. You are now ready to set your plants. Dig a hole a little deeper and wider than the little pot your plant is in. Remove the plant from the pot, put it in the hole, fill in soil around your plant. Water again. Be sure the soil is packed around the roots, so there are no air pockets. The watering after it is set out will help pack the soil around the roots.

Seeds to plant in your containers now are: radishes, lettuce, kale and collards. These will last all garden season. I plant beans, cucumbers and squash after all danger of frost is gone. My tomato plants will be ready to set out the end of April when usually it is warm. They like good warm nights.

I’ve been asked about composting. “What can I compost? How can I do it?”

You can compost anything that has grown in the earth: twigs, leaves, grass, weeds, peels from fruit and vegetables. You can put these in a black plastic bag, lay them in the sun, turn them now and then. You can buy composters. I bought a tumbler. It works real well, just takes 14 days when you follow the instructions. One that I have enjoyed the most is one I made. I took 5 feet of fence wire, 40 inches high and made a ring. I sat this in a partly shaded area. I drove three wooden stakes inside so it wouldn’t blow over. I lined inside with black plastic. I put kitchen scrapes, twigs from trimming, leaves, egg shells, what ever I had, inside my lined ring. I tamped things down with an old broom handle, covered that with old newspapers, then added another layer and another. It started composting right away (heating up). I set four tomato plants around the ring and tied them to the wire as they grew.

Gardens can bring you happiness and health. Seeing it grow and eating the wonderful food it produces.

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of ways to overcome it. — Helen Keller.

Lallah Lee Ostergren has been an organic gardener for more than 35 years.

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