As we await the completion of our larger, raised garden beds, I cannot let it stand as an excuse not to grow our own food. So in the meantime we have a couple of plants started to supplement that which we purchase from the local farmers market. I have sprinkled lettuce seeds, parsley seeds and mustard seeds pretty liberally around the garden in areas of sand or bare dirt so that we can benefit from those plants that thrive with our neglect. However, there are three plants in particular that I have in containers simply because they are so easy to get started.
The first is Pak Choy which I am very, very fond of. Particularly in smoothies and stir-fries. This little crop was started from about an inch of the base of each Pak Choy plant that I used in the kitchen. Like most Brassicas they are keen to keep on giving so they are really easy to start on some damp towel on the kitchen bench and then transplant out once they have leaves forming.
The Little Fellas are keen on potatoes. They love them. Regular white potatoes or sweet potatoes, or purple. Really, whatever Dad is happy to grow for them. They are easy to grow in containers with a bit of compost and some sand. I wait for the flowers to die down and get to them when I need some for the kitchen. The Little Fellas are acutely aware of the difference between a Ladybug and the Twenty-Eight Spotted Bugs that are really the only sort of pest that might trouble them and they are happy enough to squash them or feed them to pet birds.
Next up are Shallots. Those in the photo below had only been in the soil about a week. A little autumn rain and sunshine and they were into it. I grew the original crop and kept some of the smaller ones from the harvest in a container over summer when we moved house. Little Fella J and myself planted them out, spoke to them nicely and let nature do the rest.
There is yet another favourite crop we like to keep on the go as well which does really well in pots and that is Spring Onion. Again, like the Pak Choy, we leave about an inch or so of the lower part of the plant and roots – typically the whiter part of the ‘bulb’. This is put in a little bit of water, only to get it by until we plant it in the garden. Don’t cover it completely. Let it breath and bask in the sun a little and within days, if not overnight, it will be reaching for the sky. When you harvest, simply repeat the process. Again and again and again. They take up so little room and are really handy in the kitchen.
The containers are usually filled with kitchen scraps at the bottom. Cardboard. Paper. All the good stuff that compost worms like. We ‘seed’ the containers with some soil from the worm farms so that further down the track there is rich feed for both worms and plant.
These mini-crops are easily fertilised by the run-off from our worm farm. It’s fantastic stuff. It feeds them well. Uses up scraps from the kitchen. Makes great compost and soil amendment and can fit on the back deck, verandah or patio. Usually Zone One in a permaculture design. Back door step stuff! Easy.
Cos’ it has to be! Right?