Sunday, August 9, 2009

What grows best where

Each growing season is an experiment. Although I cultivate the same vegetables every year, I try different varieties in different placements to find what works best for our too-short, too-cool summers.

After 10 years I've learned that certain veggies do better in the ground or in containers of different types, regardless of weather, companion plants, or season extenders. From the tilled beds, raised beds, "lasagna" beds, large deep pots, long shallow pots, self-watering containers, hanging planters, and hay bales I've employed, I've compiled a list of which vegetables are happiest (or, at least, more reliable) in which locations:

* Lettuce = long, shallow planter on the deck or terrace.
* Bush beans = doesn't seem to matter.
* Pole beans = ditto.
* Bell peppers (red) = EarthBox self-watering planters.
* Carrots = deep planter on deck or terrace.
* Broccoli = variety seems to matter more than soil.
* Peas = doesn't seem to matter.
* Zucchini = tilled bed or lasagna garden.
* Cucumbers = deep planter or lasagna garden.
* Tomatoes = results differ so widely each year that I just put them where it's convenient, and cross my fingers!

The largest, most prolific tomato I ever grew was planted in a hay bale, but I've never been able to reproduce that feat. In fact, most years whatever I've planted in hay bales has struggled or died. One zucchini did well the same year as the monster tomato, but that was it. I've decided to discontinue that experiment.

Next year I will plant according to the above list and see if I can get similar results two years in a row. That would be an accomplishment!

But every year, the garden produces food -- for better or worse -- no matter what I do. I find this deeply comforting, and rely on that annual promise to get me through the long winters.

Carolyn Haley
Author: Open Your Heart with Gardens
First-year blog archives at

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