Container Gardening

We’ve all been experiencing the rising cost of food at the grocery stores lately, particularly nutritious foods like vegetables and herbs, but what choice do we have?  Most of us lack the time and space to plant a garden and tend to it, right?  Wrong!

Almost any vegetable or herb that can be grown in a typical backyard garden will do well as a container-grown plant. You don’t have to till the ground, prepare the soil and constantly weed.  And you don’t have to spend loads of money on special or matching containers.

Look around in your garage or storage shed for ceramic pots, planter boxes, bushel baskets, plastic barrels, trash containers, gallon cans, etc.  Select the proper size containers for the plants; this information is generally listed on the seed packet or included with the starter plants that you choose.  Clean each container well and be sure that they have adequate drainage by drilling holes.  You may want to consider placing about 1 inch of gravel in the bottom of the containers.

As to which plants you should grow – you don’t have to plant every vegetable or herb known to man.  Choose the ones that you and your family eat the most.

Our family uses an incredible amount of tomatoes in foods like spaghetti sauce, salad, salsa, and sprinkled over so many other food dishes.  So, tomatoes were number one on our list.  We also love green beans, cucumbers & pickles, squash, bell peppers, jalapenos and so on.  As far as herbs, we love Italian and Mexican foods, so we planted parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, rosemary and dill.

Starting to sound expensive?  Not so.  In fact, with the cost of starter plants, soil, and possibly a few containers that we didn’t have around the house, we will still save a great deal of money.  For instance, Roma tomatoes are about $1.69 per pound at the grocery store, which comes out to about $.42 each.  With the average yield per plant, our cost will be about $.8 per tomato.  Let’s look further.  The average store price for Cucumbers is $.50 each, Bell Peppers are $.78 each, Squash is $.79 each, and fresh Basil is $.20-$.24 cents PER LEAF or $2.05 for one-quarter ounce of the dried stuff.  Who can afford to eat???

But don’t stop there; what you don’t use right away can be preserved by canning, freezing & storing in plastic freezer bags, or drying.  Preserving isn’t time-consuming or costly and can be a great family project.

So, the next time you go to the grocery store, take note of your favorite veggies and herbs, not to mention the cost of gas per trip, and consider the option of looking out your kitchen window or off the back porch at your thriving containers of tasty bites!

Cheryl Hill-Burrier

Lockhart, Texas 78644

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