I learned that "self-watering" still requires getting water into the container's reservoir. Nothing happens automatically and without a water source nearby, I did a lot of schlepping – which was totally worth it for the glorious produce and fun of it all.
Another question to answer was how to support rather large plants, without being able to insert sturdy posts into actual soil, ya know. I tried some wire supports, but the squash just got tangled up in them. I tied tomatoes against the privacy screen, but then couldn't move the planter around (on its handy rollers) to harvest the cherry toms.
But like all gardeners, I'm already scheming about what I'll do differently next year and one BIG answer is to grow container-sized plants. Yep, they actually exist, or at least Renee Shepherd sells them and she sent me a nice assortment for next spring. There's "Super Bush" tomatoes (no comment), "Bush Slicer" cukes, (ditto), "Little Prince" eggplant, and even container sunflowers and zinnias. Can't wait to try 'em.
Something else I learned from the very patient Renee is that some plants – most vegetables are really and truly easier to grow from seed sewn outdoors – no need to buy starts like I did this year. (And starts are only available in the super-common, too-big-for-container varieties.) Seems they don't do much til the soil warms up, anyway. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, however, DO work better when grown from seed in late winter – or starts grown by someone else. Okay, I'm catching on, and I think I can manage starting tomato seeds indoors in March, really. At least enough for two plants.
But back to Renee. I had the pleasure of a nice long dinner with Polly Jones and Renee when she was in DC for the Congressional Club's annual First Lady's Dinner with Michelle Obama. Here's part of her report on Renee's Garden Blog:
Best of all, I was invited to the VIP
reception before the affair and had the thrill and honor of meeting
Michelle Obama in person. I was also able to make a personal selection
of our seeds to give to Michelle for the White House Garden. Michelle
was everything I expected — vibrant, graceful, clearly engaged and
enjoying what she is doing. When you speak with her, you have her full
attention and feel like you are the only person in the room. The
luncheon itself was really fabulous. I was seated at a table quite
close to the First Lady and other honorees, so I got to watch her "up
close and personal" as she gave a very insightful speech on community
Since when is having a small seed business the ticket to hobnobbing with power and (in this case) glamour in America? Since now, baby – gardening is coming back.
All photos courtesy Renee Shepherd.