From radish flowers to huge tomatoes: 6 quick container growing tips

If you like information in bite sized chunks, check out  Vertical Veg on Facebook, where I’ve started daily (well, almost daily!) tips. If you want to receive these in your Facebook news feed, simply come over and ‘Like’ the page.  If you don’t use Facebook, here are the most popular so far:

1. Radish flowers: edible and beautiful

The humble radish produces one of the prettiest flowers in the edible garden. It tastes and looks good in salads. Or you can leave the flowers to form seed pods – which are also edible – in fact they are crunchy, tasty and quite assertive (in a good way).

These pretty flowers will soon form an edible seed pod.

These pretty flowers will soon form an edible seed pod.

Runner beans = a top container crop!

Runners are one of the highest yielding crops for containers. I’ve harvested over 5kgs (11 pounds) from one 60cmm x 60cm container. They do best in full sun but will yield OK with 5 – 6 hours a day. They like plenty of water – so do best in a container with a water reservoir (but this is not essential). In the UK, sow them inside now in pots or empty toilet rolls (they have long roots), or outside after the last frost. Here I am picking them from my ‘runner bean tower’!
On the ladder harvesting runner beans

On the ladder harvesting runner beans

Tomatoes on Strings – Simple vertical solution for Window Sill Growing!

If you’re growing vine tomatoes in containers on window sills, supporting them can be tricky – it’s hard to get a good anchorage on canes. One solution is to screw hooks above the window and attach strings. Then wrap the tomato round the string as it grows. I found this worked a treat last year – and our windows were covered in tomatoes by the end of the season!

Attach the strings firmly to the top of the window sill

Attach the strings firmly to the top of the window sill

This is what it looked like in August: tomato net curtains! The strings provided strong support but also gave some flexibility.
Tomato net curtains

Tomato net curtains – fortunately this room was very bright so these huge plants didn’t take away too much.

A crop for very shady spaces

Most food crops do best with some sun, even a few hours makes a big difference. I grew these pea and broad bean shoots in my North Facing yard, sown in March. They have had NO sun – but as you can see they are lush and green – and they taste good, too.
Ful medame bean shoots growing healthily in absence of sun

Ful medame bean shoots growing healthily in absence of sun

Not sexy – but more important than anything (well, almost!)

I’ve mentioned before the huge difference that good compost makes. Below is a picture of some tomato plants I put into compost that was not good. They quickly turned yellow and became sick. How do you know if compost is any good? It’s hard to tell by looking – so you have to seek out a reliable source of advice – experienced growers, industry surveys (Which? in the UK), or a knowledgeable retailer. PS price is not a reliable indicator – the compost used below was not cheap!
Sick tomatoes - yellowing leaves is often a symptom of nutrient deficiency

Sick tomatoes – yellowing leaves is often a symptom of nutrient deficiency

When and how do you move your tomatoes outside?

When the risk of frost has passed (over the next few weeks for most of the UK), your tomato, chilli and aubergine plants (all ‘sub tropical’ plants) can be moved outside. This is similar to moving a human (wearing T shirt and shorts) from the steady warmth of tropical South America to the UK. If you want them to settle happily, you’ll need to acclimatise them to the change of weather conditions first. So put them (your plants not the human!) outside for a few hours each day for a week or two. This gets them used to the wind and the greater fluctuations of temperature. Gardeners call this ‘hardening off’. The same is true if you buy tomatoes from a garden centre – they’ve probably been raised in a green house and will benefit from gentle introduction into the ways of the outside world.
Tomatoes started inside need to be taken out and accustomed to the ways of the world slowly.

Tomatoes started inside need to be taken out and accustomed to the ways of the world slowly.

2 comments… add one

  • Great website!

    Reply
  • Hello out there I just want to thank you for sharing your wisdom and providing a channel for others to grow from mutual experiences. I am also trying to put together an international group of like minded people who want to feed the world. If you are ever in the states specifically the east coast. Kindly pay us a visit and be our guest.

    Cheers,

    DO

    Reply

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