Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Secret to Urban Gardening: Big Pots!

This summer I've spent less time cooking and more time eating whatever I've picked up at the farmers' markets. I think peanut butter & jelly on homemade wheat toast with sliced tomatoes, steamed kale, and watermelon for dessert is a completely respectable meal (that sounds better than, "I'm a little lazy in the summer").

We've also been eating from the veggie plants we're growing this year--one of my food budgeting goals. Every year I've tried to grow veggie plants, they've failed. Our last tomato plant looked ill the whole summer and spit out three tomatoes at the end of the year. We have a concrete patio for a yard, so I have to rely on potted plants, and I suspect my pots have been too small.

My husband's coworker gave us three plants this year (thanks, Matt!). We planted them in our biggest pots, which I usually use for ornamental grasses on the deck. I was a little sad to give up my grasses, but the pots were the solution!

This is our Fourth of July plant. The tomatoes are bigger than cherry tomatoes but still small and consistently delicious. It keeps growing and growing and has about five ripe tomatoes a day with about 20 more ripening. It became a super-performer only after I watered it with compost from the worm bin I keep in my kitchen, where I put fruit and veggie scraps.
This is our hot pepper plant. It also has a ton of peppers all the time. I've used them in salsa, and my husband grills or sautes them and puts them on burgers or hot dogs (he isn't veg).
Our third plant is some type of black tomato. A third of it got devoured by a tomato worm early in the season, and it hasn't been the same since. It's only just produced two tomatoes...but they are amazing!
It's nice to come home from work, walk outside, and pick these for dinner.
I also bought a basil plant from Trader Joe's. Basil is pretty reliable and has done well for me in previous years; it didn't disappoint this year. This basil is extremely fragrant and smells so sweet, I want to eat the leaves right off the stem. Unfortunately, the lettuce salad plants I got from Whole Foods did awful. They didn't last beyond my first plucking. I never replanted them into a bigger pot, so I guess that's why. (That's Rasputin, my formal feral kitty who plays catch with toy mice and hairbands and is a big, constantly attention-starved baby.)


  1. Love your little urban garden! I've never seen black tomatoes. We planted a small garden for the first time this year and had pretty good luck with it until a nasty ole tomato worm and the squash bugs reeked havoc on a few of our plants. Like you, I've loved being able to go out back and pick some fresh veggies.
    I love the smell of Basil too. :o)

  2. Your garden looks great!! I have a square foot garden due to lack of space and it's working well!! I do still dream of a country home!

  3. Wow, those are some beautiful veggies! We are moving from a house where I have a large raised garden to a very small yard with no real garden area. I am going to try the big pots next year!