How to get higher yields from less space: the first post in a new mini series
Whilst planning your 2011 container garden you are probably thinking about how to get the most out of your space. One way of doing this is to grow climbing varieties. This is because you’ll get a bigger plant in the same amount of horizontal space. By growing up the plant also gets more light, aiding growth and ripening. They can look impressive, too – you may find yourself chatting to neighbours intrigued by your towering plants. Good climbers to grow in (fairly big) pots include:
Tromboncino squash – conventional courgettes are reluctant to climb so you could try this instead. It’s been recommended to me by Alex Mitchell (author of forthcoming book, the Edible Balcony) and I’ll be trying it for the first time in 2011. It’s supposed to be a vigorous climber with fruits similar to courgettes.
Vine tomatoes – will give a higher yield over a longer season than bush tomatoes. Remember to take out the side shoots, stake and feed well with comfrey juice or organic tomato feed when the plant starts to fruit. And keep your fingers crossed about the blight!
Winter squash – vigorous climbers, can grow 16foot or more. Need a big pot. Mulch with manure if you can find a local supply. Red Kuri looks impressive and tastes good.
Runner bean – highly productive climber, and will crop over a long season. Looks beautiful too! Likes to be kept well watered.
French beans, climbing varieties – easy to grow, and crops over several weeks. Try ‘Cherokee trail of tears’ for taste and high yields (available at www.realseeds.co.uk).
Mange tout – sow in Feb for an early crop in June or July – delicious and expensive to buy in the shops.
Fat Baby Achocha – vigorous, productive climber that is easy to grow. Produces alien-like spiky fruit that taste a cross between cucumber, lemon and green peppers.
I haven’t listed peas or broad beans as in my experience these yield poorly in containers. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve grown these crops productively in containers – particularly if you’re happy to offer tips on how to do it!!
Any suggestions to add to this list? Please email me or leave your comments below.