Posted by Oliver Gardner on February 02, 2014
The questions I get most often from owners of My Garden Posts pertain to choosing the best vegetables to grow. I always counter with, what vegetables do you like to eat?” Before you shop for seeds and transplants, you should have a list in mind of the vegetables you most often like to toss into salad. Then it’s a matter of choosing varieties that are compact and produce high yields. I thought it might be of interest to many, if I share a collection of my favorites.
I always have 3 to 5 MGPs growing at any one time. For the purpose of today’s post, I’ll detail my favorite vegetables and their named varieties. The lower two planters are larger (14” wide) and have lots of soil and more vertical room for the veggies to grow. I use them for the plants that need the extra room. In the bottom planter, I sew 6 to 9 cucumber seeds. If all seeds germinate and mature, some will trail over the edge of the planter and onto the base. Most seed companies offer a few compact varieties. I’ve grown Burpee’s Spacemaster and Bush Champion. The Bush Champions produce great numbers of good sized cukes earlier than other varieties and they seem to like the planters. The harvest continues right into the fall.
This is not the best picture I took this summer, but it's the best one I can find at the moment. I remember taking one shot that featured 6 cukes ready for the picking.
Two Bush Steak tomatoes in the second large planter produce all the full sized salad tomatoes you’ll want for the summer. This compact variety grows to 24” and requires good support when it gets loaded with fruit.
This is a fine example of 2 Busch Steak Tomatoes in a large planter. I allowed them the fruit to ripen especially for a photo shoot.
Planting my way up the post, I was very happy to get full growth and produce from peppers in the smaller 8" planter. There is adequate vertical space for the California Wonder or a number of other varieties. The planter does get root bound by the end of the season, but that doesn't pose a problem.
Burpee (I think) offers a package of mixed California wonder peppers. I found that this one offered an interesting contrast. All seemed to taste alike.
I enjoy mixed greens in my salads and have found that one small planter will produce enough greens for two salads a week with 2 harvests. You can double that with 2 small planters and a mixture of spinach, lettuce and mixed greens.
And there you have it, a salad garden that uses only 4 square feet of your balcony, deck or patio and it’s accessible to gardeners of all ages and mobility.