These container designs are sketchy

The two whiskey half-barrels that I picked up in February are already sprouting with their first round of plantings, so it’s high time to share the plans I dreamed up for them. As I re-read The Bountiful Container, I took the advice about planning for visual appeal and seasonal changes to heart, and created spring and summer versions of each planter.   Two sketches show designs for spring and summer versions of barrel 1.

Barrel One: The spring arrangement for this planter features Delaway Kale (it came with my Seed Savers membership this year). Around it, I’ve planted a row of Bull’s Blood beets, and they are surrounded by the Seed Saver’s Lettuce Mix. The outermost ring is cherry bell radishes.

For summer, the centerpiece of barrel one is a Principe Borghese tomato plant  (a favorite variety, and determinate, so it should do OK in the container). It will be surrounded by bush beans of various colors, and the whole container will be ringed with Globe Basil. Two sketches show designs for spring and summer versions of barrel 2.Barrel Two: To the back of this barrel, I attached about three feet of fencing to provide a trellis. For spring, Green Arrow snap peas will send up tendrils. In front of them, I’ve planted Albino beets, spinach, and a mix of radishes and Paris Market carrots.

For summer, the peas will be replaced by Minnesota Midget melons, which are supposed to have well-behaved 3-foot vines. In front of them, I’ll transplant miniature yellow bell peppers. The carrots from spring will hang out through the season, and the front of the container will feature Tip Top Nasturtium to add to the yellow and orange color scheme.

Time will tell if the real-life barrels bear any resemblance to these sketches – or if my seasonal timing will even work! I’ll keep you posted.

Inspiration for the 2016 Garden

After last year’s major gardening slump, I was in need of some inspiration to get me revved up again. And boy, did I find it. A handful of blogs and books have me excited about gardening again, and have convinced me to think about vegetable planting in a whole new way.

First, two blogs that have been particularly inspiring to me this year:

Logo for Living HomegrownLiving Homegrown: Written by Theresa Loe, who is also an executive producer of PBS’ Growing a Greener World, this blog is packed with great content on gardening and canning, another love of mine. This winter, Living Homegrown introduced me to the term “foodscaping” (see more below), which has me totally re-envisioning my garden. There is also a wonderful weekly Living Homegrown podcast that I recommend checking out.

Favorite posts:
Why You Should Rethink Food Growing
Ten Show-Stopping Edibles
8 Delicious Ways to Use Up Leftover Preserves

Logo for NW Edible LifeNorthwest Edible Life: Erica’s blog is full of no-nonsense advice no matter what level of “homesteading” you embrace. I love her tips on vegetable gardening, and she also has plenty of recipes, food preserving advice, and even how-to posts on topics like making your own soap and home-brewing. Both Theresa and Erica have given me serious chicken envy, too. I’m not quite ready for my own coop, but I love vicariously experiencing theirs.

Favorite posts:
Lawn to Garden in a Single Weekend
How to Make Succession Planting and Year-Round Gardening Really Work
Which Seed-Starting Supplies Are Worth It? And Which Aren’t?

A1F8vI99cmLNext, the books. A post on Living Homegrown (I think) led me to the work of Rosalind Creasy. Creasy is a pioneer in edible landscaping, or what has popularly been termed “foodscaping.” I picked up her book “Edible Landscaping” during the depths of winter when I was most in need of encouragement, and it is full of envious landscapes. The idea behind foodscaping is to grow edible plants as if they were ornamentals, taking factors such as plant shape and size, texture, foliage color, and blooms into consideration. Rather than utilitarian rows, you end up with a cottage-style garden that is both productive and beautiful! Edible Landscaping even includes photos of the experimental foodscapes that Creasy has planted in her own front yard over the years. As I tackle arranging edibles in my expanded backyard veggie beds, I’ll be turning to these inspirational images again and again.

The cover of "The Bountiful Container"I actually purchased a copy of McGee and Stuckey’s Bountiful Container a few years ago. It’s packed with useful information, and when I first bought it, I was a little overwhelmed by everything there was to learn. But when I picked it back up this winter while planning the 2016 garden, I was motivated anew to try some of the authors’ tips and planting arrangements. I’ll be using a lot of the advice here in deciding how to fill my two new whiskey barrel containers.

What resources are serving as your garden inspiration this year?