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Grow More Vegetables on Balconies, Decks and Patios with My Garden Post

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Dick Raymond, author of “Joy of Gardening” and several other best-selling books on the topic, has been a friend of mine for the past 35 years. In the 1980s, he hosted a very popular PBS-TV series titled “Joy of Gardening”. One of the segments featured Compact Gardens, Small Spaces and Containers. He sought to teach apartment dwellers how they could have wonderful gardens on tiny balconies while living in America’s largest cities.

Marc and I took our first My Garden Post prototype to Dick for his advice and endorsement. He first introduced me to raised bed gardens, wide row planting and how to utilize every square inch of a container or garden plot to maximize yield. I trusted his experience and knew Dick would give us his honest opinion. He said he “loved it” and went on to share his ideas on crowding more vegetables and herbs into each planter and extending the growing season. I’ve included a few of Dick’s proven methods in the post to follow.

For three summers, I’ve been testing a great numbers of vegetable variety combinations in the 5 planters on My Garden Posts. For my own taste, I have developed a favorite collection of vegetables that I’d like to share with you.

I always plant leaf lettuce in one or two of the small planters (10”, which offers plenty of room). It’s a good choice for several reasons,

  • It’s easy to grow
  • The first harvest is ready in 40-45 days. If you pinch off the mature leaves at 2”-3” from the base, you can expect another harvest in a week and likely a third harvest the following week.
  • You can be assured of having lots of lettuce, if you stagger the planting dates by three weeks and use two small planters.

This picture was taken May 11th. I started the seeds inside six weeks ago and they’ve been outside since May 1st. I harvested this planter just after I took the picture and filled a large salad bowl with fresh organic lettuce.

The first time I met Dick Raymond he was speaking to a gymnasium full of gardeners at the high school in South Burlington, Vermont. One of the key messages he left with folks that night was, “You don’t need a lot of space to grow healthy vegetables, if you use every square inch of space available. It’s perfectly ok to crowd plants that don’t mature at the same time.”

Dick showed pictures of two easy examples of two vegetable varieties sharing one container. He recommended that we should always have leaf lettuce and radish seeds close at hand. Dick would think it a waste to see one or two tomato plants alone in one of the large (14”) MGP planters. His advice always comes to mind when I transplant tomatoes into our planters. I never miss the opportunity to add leaf lettuce or radish seeds to every planter of tomatoes and peppers. Both are harvested before the tomato or pepper needs the space.

It only makes sense to plant compact varieties of your favorite vegetables when you are limited on space. This doesn’t mean you have to settle for smaller vegetables. I have three cases in point.

  • The “Bushsteak” tomato is compact cultivar of the Beefsteak tomato which grows only 24-30”. It’s a perfect choice for My Garden Post growers.
  • The “Space Saver” cucumber is perfectly happy in the MGP large planter mounted on the bottom bracket. It fact I always plant a hill of three transplants in the large planter and harvest several full sized cucumbers.

  • On my favorite My Garden Post vegetable garden, I reserve the top small planter for the “Tiny Tim” tomato. It’s hard to imagine how such a small plant can be so prolific. If you enjoy cherry sized tomatoes, you’ll love the flavor and abundance of the “Tiny Tim."

This is a great picture of the Tiny Tim, but it’s not mine. I’ve searched everywhere for the pictures I took last summer and just couldn’t find one. Thanks to Google, I have this one to show you.

Dick Raymond now spends his winters in Florida with his wife Jean. At 85 they square dance a few nights every week during the winter and they continue to garden when they return to Vermont. I look forward to telling him of My Garden Post’s successful first year. If followers have interest in knowing more about Dick, search him out on Google. There are more than 30 pages of articles that reference him.

Thanks for following and a special thanks to everyone who purchased a My Garden Post this spring. Best regards, Oliver and the My Garden Post team

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