GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2012 show2
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Show 2/2702. Incredible Vegetable Production - In Containers

Background On Book
After researching the topic she found that there had not been a lot published using VEGETABLES IN CONTAINERS. Well, Pamela is supposed to be the container garden person so she started looking into it and decided to write a book on the subject having no idea of the obstacles she would run into. She ended up planting 1,700 plants, about 1,300 of those didn't look the way she wanted. So in her book she ended up showing not only what worked but as well what didn't.
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Selecting Container Plants
Eric can only imagine how much fun it must be to VALUATE HUNDREDS OF DIFFERENT VEGETABLES. To learn about plants that perform best in containers, to run multiple trials and to determine what grows best at what time of year, what performs in a certain environment and in these containers is exciting. Eric is anxious to see what she's learned along the way about the plants that perform best in containers.
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The Best Tomatoes
Pamela talks about 2 different TOMATO PLANTS. They're a great example of the appropriateness of a certain plant or a certain setting like a container. One is massive, it looks like it's eating up the container. Another looks particularly well suited for a smaller space. Pamela thinks she may have grown every tomato out of the 25,000 available. She found the plants not suited for containers, before she found the right plants.
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Other Container Vegetables
Pamela and Eric look at some great examples of OTHER VEGETABLES that too are doing well. They are producing a lot of food and cosmetically are beautiful. Oftentimes we don't think about how beautiful the flowers can be on vegetables. Okra is an example. It has a bloom that looks a lot like a cotton bloom and produces colors and hues that range from deep purple to tans and yellows. Although Okra is primarily grown for its food value it still is beautiful. Pamela also enjoys cucumbers.
For More Information Click here

Culture Of Growing In Containers
They talk about the CULTURE OF GROWING in containers. Are their special requirements plants have or what should one keep in mind when growing in containers? Remember we're not growing in the ground anymore, we're growing in containers, you're growing in a soil mix. These warm season vegetables get big, remember these are only 2 months old, that means they need room for their roots. So you need large pots, they need room for their roots to grow.
For More Information Click here

Support The Vegetables
It's very important with vegetables to SUPPORT THE VEGETABLES with something, in this case she's using an obelisk. Pamela uses an obelisk because she thinks they're prettier, she cringes when she sees something like a tomato cage.
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Container Combinations
Pamela shows us another COMBINATION she thinks is attractive. It was easy to do. What she repeatedly tells gardeners is to pick an attractive container that's big enough for the vegetable. Pick a vegetable that likes being in containers and behaves well there and choose an attractive support. For this tomato Pamela thinks the combination worked particularly well. And what was fun, she choose herbs for the container that taste great with the tomato. It has parsley and sweet basil, then dressed it all up with Celosia which is one of her favorite flowers because they're so bright and perky.
For More Information Click here

Pamela's Back Patio
The next area is Eric's favorite part of Pamela's garden. This is her BACK PATIO. It's overlooking her kitchen and dining room and has great examples of how to use vegetables and herbs in containers. It's a peaceful place yet has a tremendous amount going on. This area was a challenge because it is a smaller space. She wanted to have room to grow plants and to eat here and have room to prepare food on the deck. What Pamela did was go vertical because if she had just used the floor she would have run out of space.
For More Information Click here

Ease Of Harvest
Another benefit of using tall containers is the EASE OF HARVEST. The vegetables are easy to pick but importantly they're very visual. The containers bring the vegetable up to eye level. Pamela had mentioned earlier that with squash, often we don't get to see their beautiful fruits because they're low down and on the ground. By putting them nearly at eye level they're convenient to harvest and make it easy for all to see their natural beauty.
For More Information Click here

Bounty From The Day
Pamela and Eric go outside with their BOUNTY FROM THE DAY. Pamela is very pleased and excited; and to think she had never grown vegetables up until several years ago. And this is early in the season, so she will continue to harvest more vegetables as the season goes on.
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Summary
Eric wants to POINT OUT 2 THINGS he thinks are very important to the success Pamela has had with this vegetable crop. One is the fact that Pamela has used very large containers. Many people use smaller containers because they may feel it's best for their space or they may be less expensive. But in order to grow large vegetables one needs to give the plants root system enough space to grow a large top. There is a direct relationship between the size of the root system and the size of the leafy matter on the plant.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Pamela Crawford - Books
Easy Garden Color

GardenSMART Plant List

TubTrugs
Tubtrugs® | Super-flexible, safe, and strong. Use them for everything.

Show 2/2702.
Incredible Vegetable Production - In Containers

Transcript of Show

In this episode GardenSMART visits a gardening expert that puts a whole new spin on growing vegetables. Amazing yields and beautiful containers. What's not to like.

Pamela Crawford is a gifted landscape architect as well as best selling author of 10 books on gardening. She has spent the past 10 years testing containers and plants that excel in containers. In fact her books have become so popular that some refer to her as the goddess of container gardening. Her last 2 books address edibles and vegetables and herbs in containers. Her goal with those books was to determine which herbs and vegetables were the easiest to grow and importantly how to make them look good. And making them look good was the hard part.

Pamela has worked many years with flowering plants and containers, developing that as an art form. And her results are fantastic. Several years ago she received a call from the Atlanta newspaper asking if she had any information on making vegetables look good in containers. The paper had been getting quite a few calls from readers saying they didn't want to plow the back forty but would like to grow vegetables. Pamela had never grown a vegetable before, she felt that growing vegetables was ugly. After researching the topic she found that there had not been a lot published using VEGETABLES IN CONTAINERS. Well, Pamela is supposed to be the container garden person so she started looking into it and decided to write a book on the subject having no idea of the obstacles she would run into. She ended up planting 1,700 plants, about 1,300 of those didn't look the way she wanted. So in her book she ended up showing not only what worked but as well what didn't. People's perception of vegetable gardening is that it typically takes a lot of space. One thinks weed pulling, something that's pretty challenging. Growing what we eat has become more popular than ever and people don't typically have rambling spaces. Pamela's book is particularly useful showing people the possibilities both aesthetically, how beautiful vegetables look in containers, but also how practical it is to grow them in small spaces. Pamela tells Eric that one particularly exciting thing we'll do in this program is show our viewers exactly how many vegetables she gets from a small number of containers.

Eric can only imagine how much fun it must be to VALUATE HUNDREDS OF DIFFERENT VEGETABLES. To learn about plants that perform best in containers, to run multiple trials and to determine what grows best at what time of year, what performs in a certain environment and in these containers is exciting. Eric is anxious to see what she's learned along the way about the plants that perform best in containers. Pamela found it exciting as well, but some things, like tomatoes, were quite challenging. Pamela feels before beginning it's important to know what season vegetables you desire. Do you want cool season or warm season vegetables? The vegetables we're looking at in this show were planted at the beginning of May. They are now 2 months old and they're huge. She shows Eric the zucchini. It's impressive. Although probably a little bit older than one would want from a tenderness standpoint it's very ornamental. If she wanted one for dinner that evening she would pick one a little smaller, but they too look beautiful. Pamela feels we oftentimes overlook the tremendous ornamental value of squash and eggplant. Since these plants are typically grown on the ground and oftentimes the leaves cover the amazing fruit they go unnoticed. But they are wonderful and edible. Pamela's crookneck squash is awesome, it looks like a giant pumpkin hanging down. Her Eggplant is equally successful. Eric can't believe the number of Eggplants. He had no idea she could get so many vegetables off each plant. Pamela points out a Ichiban Eggplant. It has a few holes in the leaves, that's because she doesn't spray. She's afraid of pesticides and that's a great thing about growing your own vegetables - you get to control how they're grown.

Pamela talks about 2 different TOMATO PLANTS. They're a great example of the appropriateness of a certain plant or a certain setting like a container. One is massive, it looks like it's eating up the container. Another looks particularly well suited for a smaller space. Pamela thinks she may have grown every tomato out of the 25,000 available. She found the plants not suited for containers, before she found the right plants. And this is a great example. She likes her containers to be somewhat neat and compact. Pamela found for a big tomato The Patio does well and the Husky Cherry Red is ideal for a smaller tomato.

Pamela and Eric look at some great examples of OTHER VEGETABLES that too are doing well. They are producing a lot of food and cosmetically are beautiful. Oftentimes we don't think about how beautiful the flowers can be on vegetables. Okra is an example. It has a bloom that looks a lot like a cotton bloom and produces colors and hues that range from deep purple to tans and yellows. Although Okra is primarily grown for its food value it still is beautiful. Pamela also enjoys cucumbers. These may be a little old but again she wanted to brag about their size and their number. The last plant in this line is the green beans. Pamela got some seeds that said bush beans, stuck them in and they popped right up. She is amazed at how easy vegetables are to grow in containers if you select the right ones.

They talk about the CULTURE OF GROWING in containers. Are their special requirements plants have or what should one keep in mind when growing in containers? Remember we're not growing in the ground anymore, we're growing in containers, you're growing in a soil mix. These warm season vegetables get big, remember these are only 2 months old, that means they need room for their roots. So you need large pots, they need room for their roots to grow. Large pots will make it a whole lot easier. You can get them in plaster or rubber if you don't want the expense of pottery. Another important point is to use potting mix, no garden soil, just potting mix. The other issue is watering these big vegetables in the summertime. In many parts of the country they will need to be watered every day. One mistake gardeners often make, especially with vegetables, is planting too closely. A container will help with sunlight, it will often get plenty of sunlight and on all sides. That's important for ripening. If you look at tomatoes they are often planted too close together, therefore don't ripen because there's not enough sun on the fruit. It's also important to note that Pamela has many containers on rollers. They can be moved around. Pamela has also found that growing vegetables in containers reduces dramatically the number of pests on the plants. The little bugs don't like crawling up the sides of containers, thus you don't get the number that you would get on the ground. Another very important advantage is drainage. A container drains better than the soil. Importantly if you just have a patio or a small deck you can still have a vegetable container. It's amazing what you can do in a small space.

In her book Pamela references Blue Ribbon and Red Ribbon plants. Those are the plants she thinks most highly of or plants that perform the best. Eric asks what does a plant have to do to earn a Blue Ribbon? She shows us with a pepper. Peppers are one of the easiest plants in her trials. She simply removes the garden center pot and puts it in a new container and adds some fertilizer. It's very important with vegetables to SUPPORT THE VEGETABLES with something, in this case she's using an obelisk. Pamela uses an obelisk because she thinks they're prettier, she cringes when she sees something like a tomato cage. Add water and that's it, that's all you need to do if a plant is listed as a Pamela blue ribbon vegetable. Pamela shows use a pepper that's been growing 2 months, it's huge. And it looks very pretty with Lantana surrounding it. She is using attractive containers and using attractive supports. She calls this - the little pepper with bling - because they put it in such an outrageous container. Eric likes the way Pamela is incorporating all the fun and fancy colors into vegetable gardening. And, of course the addition of the Lantana and the bright containers really add a nice touch.

Pamela shows us another COMBINATION she thinks is attractive. It was easy to do. What she repeatedly tells gardeners is to pick an attractive container that's big enough for the vegetable. Pick a vegetable that likes being in containers and behaves well there and choose an attractive support. For this tomato Pamela thinks the combination worked particularly well. And what was fun, she choose herbs for the container that taste great with the tomato. It has parsley and sweet basil, then dressed it all up with Celosia which is one of her favorite flowers because they're so bright and perky. And, they go with almost anything. Another advantage of planting flowers around vegetables is pollination can often be an issue. If there aren't enough bees coming to our vegetables it will clearly effect yields. So not only are the containers beautiful but additionally there are practical reasons to introduce flowers. They will help get fruit on the vines. And Eric has noticed many bees around the area, so it's working. Eric wonders - What if gardeners didn't want to spent a lot for beautiful, huge containers? What are the options? What is more economical? Pamela has found that truggs are very economical. They are made out of recycled tires. She shows us several, some are red and some yellow. And, they're huge, certainly large enough for a tomato plant. And, instead of using a more expensive iron obelisk you could go to a chain store and pick up a trellis. They can cost as little as $8. Spray paint it a bright color, it will hold your vegetables up and look good. Eric is amazed at how simple Pamela has made it. Anyone can go out and for a small amount of money and a few plants can come up with something that really looks great. And it's incredible the amount of food you can grow and how beautiful you can make your garden. And speaking about budgets, Pamela points out a sweet basil plant. The plant will cost about $3, but in the grocery a little package of basil would cost at least $4. And there are many packages of basil that could be harvested from this one plant, probably more than one would eat. When harvesting the basil plant, preserve the basil and you can have basil all season long. Pamela believes that 1 plant could produce basil that if bought in the store could cost over $100.

A common concern about container gardening is that containers dry out a lot faster than things planted in the ground. Pamela concurs, containers do need more water. She has been particularly happy with some self watering containers she's tried this summer. They use 1/2 to 1/3 as much water as traditional containers. They have a little widget on the side that looks like a thermometer with a float inside. When the float goes all the way to the bottom, pick up the little plastic piece, add water until the float goes up and that means the water is full. That's it, it's particularly good for people who might be new to gardening or people that like to save water. The wonderful thing about watering a plant from underneath is you don't have all the water loss due to evaporation, which is common with overhead watering. Also when thinking about vegetables that require a lot of water, especially tomatoes, this makes a lot of sense. In fact when a tomato runs short of water it will have major problems. A lot of times what people know as blossom end rot, the crack in the bottom of a tomato, is truly a calcium deficiency. Calcium is a very mobile element and what happens when you don't get enough water to carry the calcium up in to the plant you will get a split on the bottom of the tomato. So to have a constant water supply for tomato plants that is directed right at the root system allowing the plant to drink water when it needs it means you will have greater yields and the growth on your plants will be significantly better.

The next area is Eric's favorite part of Pamela's garden. This is her BACK PATIO. It's overlooking her kitchen and dining room and has great examples of how to use vegetables and herbs in containers. It's a peaceful place yet has a tremendous amount going on. This area was a challenge because it is a smaller space. She wanted to have room to grow plants and to eat here and have room to prepare food on the deck. What Pamela did was go vertical because if she had just used the floor she would have run out of space. Additionally it was a challenge because her whole house overlooks this deck. When you walk in her front door you see this deck, so it must look good. Again, going vertical was the answer. Bringing everything off the floor, hugging the walls with both boxes as well as the tall blue cylinder planters that she's used throughout allow her to grow big herbs and vegetables in a small footprint. When cooking it's hard to beat fresh vegetables and fresh herbs, they enhance so much of what we eat. Eric comments that Pamela must have 100 pounds of food out here on this deck. This is a great lesson to those who have very small spaces. Maybe you only have a little patio or a small balcony and you might think - What can I really grow in this space? This area is a great response to that question. Pamela had something like 600 vegetables produced on this little deck last season. It's just incredible.

They look at an eggplant. It's growing in partial shade (but does get 6 hours of full sun per day), and is still enormous and growing in a nice looking container with a nice looking support with flowers surrounding it. Behind that container is one of Pamela's favorite ways to support tomatoes. It's a Husky Cherry Red tomato that does well in containers and is planted in one of her side planted window boxes up against a beautiful iron trellis. The trellis is not only decorative, but importantly it holds up the tomato so it doesn't fall over. And just in case she might forget, when cooking in this area Pamela has a little cow piece of pottery in one area and a little chicken pottery in another. Behind the cow are herbs ideal for beef and behind the chicken are herbs ideal for chicken. It's a creative use of plants and a great way to show off her plants. She also has a living centerpiece. It features an impressive eggplant but what pulls it all together are the bright yellow flowers in a dynamic blue container. The contrast between the colors is a match made in heaven. And the eggplant which is ornamental adds a vertical element.

Another benefit of using tall containers is the EASE OF HARVEST. The vegetables are easy to pick but importantly they're very visual. The containers bring the vegetable up to eye level. Pamela had mentioned earlier that with squash, often we don't get to see their beautiful fruits because they're low down and on the ground. By putting them nearly at eye level they're convenient to harvest and make it easy for all to see their natural beauty. Not having to bend to pick them is a real plus for Pamela. She next shows us her prize patio tomato and marvels at the size of one particular clump. Pamela will be cutting them off shortly to put on the harvest table. But first she has a math question for Eric. What does he think it would cost to buy all of the tomatoes on this deck at a grocery store? Eric estimates that based on the price of organic tomatoes she might very well have $80 to $100 worth of tomatoes on 1 shrub alone. Pamela figures that means if she has $100 dollars of tomatoes from a $4 plant that is a good return on investment.

She next shows Eric a Cow Horn Pepper, a really good sweet pepper. Although hard to see because green peppers are about the same color as the leaves, she starts pulling them off to show the number of peppers growing on 1 plant. Again, an unbelievable number of peppers. With both plants she has the right vegetables in containers, she has them supported attractively, in attractive pots and added flowers around the base to make a pretty arrangement. Eric is impressed with the way Pamela has been able to bring all elements together and the incredible productivity from such a small space. This has been a lot of fun, Eric has been impressed with the amount of vegetables Pamela's plants produced and how pretty the plants are. It's been a very pleasant surprise.

Pamela and Eric go outside with their BOUNTY FROM THE DAY. Pamela is very pleased and excited; and to think she had never grown vegetables up until several years ago. And this is early in the season, so she will continue to harvest more vegetables as the season goes on. Pamela thinks this underscores the simplicity of vegetable container gardening or this type of vegetable farming, if you like. She would speculate that from 12 containers they have probably harvested 80 to 100 pounds of food.

Eric wants to POINT OUT 2 THINGS he thinks are very important to the success Pamela has had with this vegetable crop. One is the fact that Pamela has used very large containers. Many people use smaller containers because they may feel it's best for their space or they may be less expensive. But in order to grow large vegetables one needs to give the plants root system enough space to grow a large top. There is a direct relationship between the size of the root system and the size of the leafy matter on the plant. So if one wants these kind of results you can't do it in a 6 inch pot. You will need plenty of soil so the plant is able to take up nutrition to grow these giant vegetables. Another important thing Pamela has done is used drip irrigation on all plants. Irrigation is so important. Water is the most important plant nutrient. Without water the plant cannot synthesize any of the other wonderful fertilizers that we put on the plant because most of that is carried up into the root system through water. So a combination of good irrigation and large containers is instrumental in growing large plants. They both would recommend buying the biggest containers you can afford. The results here speak for themselves.

We've seen in this show the incredible food production potential from a very small space and have seen how to make our vegetable garden beautiful. These have been great lessons. Thank you Pamela it's been a great day.

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LINKS:

Pamela Crawford - Books
Easy Garden Color

GardenSMART Plant List

TubTrugs
Tubtrugs® | Super-flexible, safe, and strong. Use them for everything.


   
 
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