Crops in Pots: 50 cool containers planted with fruit, vegetables and herbs by Bob Purnell (published by Spruce) is a fun, slightly different book to add to your library if you want to grow fruit and veg in a small space, or if you’re a keen produce gardener who wants to extend their planting options and ideas.
I don’t have a huge veg garden – just four 2’x6′ raised beds, so I already grow a fair bit of edible stuff in containers (I suppose that’s everything if you count the raised beds!). All my fruit bushes (gooseberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and jostaberries) for example, and some of my herb collection, are permanently in pots, and later on in the season, I will be putting a couple of courgette plants and some dwarf French beans into large pots/buckets with drainage holes, as I usually do. But up until now I’ve had a rather utilitarian rather than decorative approach, and limited myself to the obvious options. Bush courgettes in a bucket is not really very creative gardening!
This book has got me really inspired my to do something a bit different with my container gardening. I find it particularly appealing because it’s laid out like a cook book. There are 3 sections of planting ideas – Starters, Main Courses, and Desserts, and within that, each of the 50 container ideas is laid out like a little recipe, with full, specific names of plants, compost and containers required (including materials needed for germination if you are growing from seed). AND then, there’s a proper recipe too, using the contents (or some of the contents) of the pot. So, for example,the ‘recipe’ for combining 2 kinds of tumbling toms (orange and red), black-eyed Susan and curly parsley in hanging basket, is accompanied by a proper recipe for Tomato and Boccacini Bruscetta:
Here are some of my favourite combinations:
Purple and bronze – para cress, bronze fennel and marjoram in a galvanised trough:
Green garnish – annual rocket, parsley, garlic chives and coriander in a metal bucket
Currant affair – redcurrants and pinks in a square stone container
Mellow yellow – courgette and banana in an earthenware pot
Passion fashion – passionflower and cape gooseberry in an earthenware pot:
The 50 planting ideas are accompanied by detailed plant profiles and a pretty thorough introduction to choosing containers, plants to go in them, the types of compost to use and general information about caring for your plants long term (if required).
I thought I’d get started straight away, and grabbed this dwarf ‘Totem’ tomato plant, a box of reduced-price red lettuces (no label so no idea about the variety!) and an oregano plant from my local DIY store. I also popped in some self-seeded Calendula from elsewhere in my garden, for a bit of colour after the lettuces have gone over.
It was really fun to put together – and I’m looking forward to seeing how the pot develops over the summer and hoping it’s not a blighty year for tomatoes!
If you are UK based, and would like to win a copy of this book just leave a comment on this blog post before Wednesday (25 May) evening, when I will do the draw. Tell me about your garden, or just a ‘pick me’ will do, as usual.