Container Gardening

In areas where there is little or no space, a well-organized container garden can produce substantial vegetables. A point to remember about container gardening: The small volume of soil in a raised bed will warm up faster in spring than the soil in your open garden. This gives you a longer growing season, because you can start your cool-season crops earlier. You can also bring plants inside if the temperature takes an unexpected plunge — this mobility is an advantage you obviously lack in an open garden.

Plan a container garden the same way as a small garden plot, making the best possible use of your vertical space. Use a trellis for vining crops and stakes and cages for tomatoes or other semi-vining crops. If you're planting on a balcony, don't let any possible support go to waste. Position climbing plants where the railing provides a readymade trellis. There are also space-saving techniques unique to container gardens. You can use the vertical space of a container itself by planting in holes or pockets in the sides of the container. Growing some vining plants in hanging baskets will save space too, but be sure to place hanging baskets where they won't shade other plants. When you are growing a container garden, always select varieties that are suitable for container growing, and remember that containers dry out faster than a traditional garden, so you'll need to water more often. Plants growing in containers are also more affected by changes in temperature; you do have the advantage, though, of being able to move them to a more protected area or even inside on cool nights.

Essentially, planning a container garden is little different from planning an outdoor plot. The main difference may be in the varieties you choose — if you're planting in a confined space you're going to take a special interest in smaller varieties and plants with compact, contained growth habits. But basically, any plant that will grow in your garden will also grow on your balcony or patio.

Extending your garden indoors

If you don't have a garden or even a balcony, you can still have a container vegetable garden. Don't underestimate the number of vegetables that can be grown successfully indoors. Near a bright window that is not too warm, leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, parsley, and chives, will do nicely. Fruiting plants are worth a try, but they take a lot more light at a higher intensity; unless the window is very bright, the plants may grow but not produce. Cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets will sometimes grow in very bright windows, and sometimes plants can be brought in from outdoors and grown on for several months. Herbs are rewarding indoor-garden plants, and they go a long way in adding your personal touch to everyday eating.

Providing indoor lighting

If you have lights or if you have a place for putting lights, you can grow vegetables indoors without any sun at all. Lettuce does beautifully in the basement or the attic when grown under fluorescent light—usually these spots are not as warm as the rest of the house. Lettuce can also be grown in an apartment if you can find a spot where the heating is not very efficient or if you don't mind wearing a sweater.

Cucumbers will grow beautifully under artificial light. But just as long days will prevent flowering, so will long periods under artificial light. The best thing to do is experiment and find what does well for you. A timer can be useful in giving certain plants a dark resting period. Given lots of water, watercress works almost as well as lettuce under the lights. Instead of seeds, you can start with cuttings (the bottoms of some of those stems of fresh watercress you bought to indulge yourself).

Various possibilities for using vegetables as houseplants are discussed in the description of individual vegetables in Part 2.

Gardening in a greenhouse: A refuge for plants and gardener

With a greenhouse you can garden all year around and experiment with ail kinds of plants that you have little chance of growing out in the open garden. A greenhouse is also a nice, cozy, private place for the gardener whose gardening time Is often interrupted by demands from other family members. If you're going to buy and install a greenhouse, it's worth getting a good one. Greenhouses vary vastly in size, price, and construction and many companies supply them; not all of them, however, are well-designed and well-put-together, so you need to do some homework. The following are reputable sources that can provide you with basic information to help you make a choice. Some of them will design a greenhouse to fit your available space and specifications.

state and city

Average date of

Average date of

Number of

last frost

first frost

growing

Alabama

Birmingham

March 19

November 14

241

Mobile

February 17

December 12

298

Montgomery

February'27

December 3

279

Alaska

Anchorage

May 18

September 13

118

Cordova

May 10

October 2

1 45

Fairbanks

May 24

August 29

97

Arizona

Flagstaff

June 8

October 2

116

Phoenix

January 27

December 11

31 7

Winslow

April 28

October 21

176

Arkansas

Fort Smith

March 23

November 9

231

Little Rock

March 16

November 15

244

California

Bakersfield

February 14

November 28

287

Fresno

February 3

December 3

303

Sacramento

January 24

December 11

321

Colorado

Denver

May 2

October 14

1 65

Pueblo

April 28

October 12

1 67

Connecticut

Hartford

April 22

October 19

1 80

New Haven

April 15

October 25

193

District of Columbia

Washington

April 10

October 28

200

Florida

Jacksonville

February 6

December 16

31 3

Orlando

January 31

December 17

31 9

Tallahassee

February 26

December 3

280

Tampa

January 10

December 26

349

Georgia

Atlanta

March 20

November 19

244

Macon

March 12

November 19

252

Savannah

February 21

December 9

291

Idaho

Boise

April 29

October 16

171

Pocatello

May 8

September 30

155

Illinois

Cairo

March 23

November 11

233

Chicago

April 19

October 28

1 92

Springfield

April 8

October 30

205

Urbana

April 22

October 20

1 51

Indiana

Evansville

April 2

November 4

21 6

Fort Wayne

April 24

October 20

1 79

Indianapolis

April 17

October 27

Iowa

Des Moines Dubuque Kansas Concordia Topeka Wichita Kentucky Lexington Louisville Louisiana Lake Charles New Orleans Shreveport Maine Greenville Presque Isle Portland Maryland Baltimore Cumberland Massachusetts Amherst Boston Nantucket Michigan Detroit

Grand Rapids Lansing

Minnesota

Duluth Minneapolis Mississippi Jackson Biloxi Vicksburg Missouri \

Columbia Kansas City St. Louis Montana

Billings Glasgow Havre Nebraska Lincoln Norfolk Omaha

Average date of Average date of Number of days in last frost first frost growing season

April 20 October 19 183

April 19 October 19 184

April 16 October 24 191

April 9 October 26 200

April 5 November 1 210

April 13 October 28 198

April 1 November 7 220

February 18 December 6 . 291

February 13 December 12 302

March 1 November 27 272

May 27 September 20 116

May 31 September 18 110

April 29 October 15 169

March 28 November 17 234

May 1 October 10 163

May 12 September 19 130

April 16 October 25 192

April 12 November 16 219

April 25 October 23 181

April 25 October 27 185

May 6 October 8 155

May 22 September 24 125

April 30 October 13 166

March 10 November 13 248

February 22 November 28 279

March 8 November 15 252

April 9 October 24 198

April 5 October 31 210

April 2 November 8 220 «

May 15 September 24 132

May 19 September 20 124

May 9 September 23 138

April 20 October 17 180

May 4 October 3 152

April 14 October 20 189

State and city

Average date of last frost

Average date of first frost

Number of days in growing season

Nevada

Las Vegas Reno New Hampshire

Concord New Jersey

New Brunswick Trenton New Mexico Albuquerque Santa Fe New York Binghamton Buffalo New York North Carolina Charlotte Raleigh Wilmington North Dakota Bismarck Fargo Williston Ohio

Cincinnati

Cleveland

Columbus

Dayton

Toledo

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City Tulsa

Oregon

Medford Portland Salem Pennsylvania Harrisburg Philadelphia Pittsburgh Rhode Island Providence

South Carolina

Charleston Columbia Greenville South Dakota

Huron Rapid City Sioux Falls

March 13 May 14

May 11

April 21 April 8

April 16

April 23

May 4 April 29 April 7

March 21 March 24 . March 15

May 11 May 13 May 14

April 15 April 21 April 17 April 20 April 24

March 28 March 31

April 25 February 25 April 14

April 10 March 30 April 20

April B

February 19 March 14 March 23

May 4 May 7 May 5

November 13 October 2

October 1

October 19 November 5

October 29 October 19

October 6 October 23 November 12

November 15 November 16 November 19

September 24 September 27 September 23

October 25 November 2 October 30 October 21 October 25

November 7 November 2

October 20 December 1 October 27

October 28 November 17 October 23

October 27

December 10 November 21 November 17

September 30 October 4 October 3

245 141

179 211

196 179

154 178 21 9

239 237 274

1 92 1 95 196 184 184

223 21 6

201 232 1 87

1 97

294 252 239

1 49 150 152

state and city

Tennessee

Chattanooga Knoxville Memphis Nashville Texas

Brownsville Dallas Houston Plainview Utah Blanding Salt Lake City Vermont Burlington Saint Johnsbury Virginia Norfolk Richmond Washington Seattle Spokane West Virginia Charleston Parkersburg

Wisconsin Green Bay La Crosse Madison Milwaukee Wyoming

Casper

Cheyenne

Sheridan

Average date of Average date of Number of days In last frost first frost growing season

March 26 November 10 229

March 31 November 6 220

March 20 November 12 237

March 28 November 7 224

February 15 December 10 298

March 18 November 22 249

February 5 December 11 309

April 10 November 6 211

May 18 October 14 148

April 12 November 1 202

May 8 October 3 148

May 22 September 25 126

March 18 November 27 254

April 2 November 8 220

February 23 December 1 281

April 20 October 12 175

April 18 October 28 193

April 16 October 21 189

May 6 October 13 161

May 1 October 8 161

April 26 October 19 177

April 20 October 25 188

May 18 September 25 ' 130

May 20 September 27 130

May 21 September 21 123

Write vegetable names here

Building Your Own Greenhouse

Building Your Own Greenhouse

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