A considerable amount of excellent edible ultra-fresh produce can be grown on anyone’s back yard sun deck, patio, or in odd spots around the garden or on apartment balconies just by using half-a-dozen of the ordinary inexpensive normal-sized (12” diameter x 16” deep) plastic flower pots sold in stores across the nation.
Using ten or so such pots, I grow enough really succulent and delicious tomatoes, cucumbers, and scarlet runner beans to keep my wife and myself amply supplied in late July, August and September — and even into October.
It’s really worth the doing, satisfying and easy too. No digging up of patches of hard ground. No special watering or weeding paraphernalia required. No battles with pests and diseases. Just nominal care with a watering can, and a mild dose of fertilizer every couple of weeks.
This year using only four pots provided us with about five dozen excellent tomatoes, another four pots continuously produced feed after feed of scrumptious scarlet runner beans week after week, which I cut up in French style with a special little gem of a slicing tool (imported from Australia).
Another three shallow pots, saucer shaped, eighteen inches in diameter and about ten inches deep, perfectly mimic the raised earth beds meant to provide the good drainage traditionally recommended for growing cucumbers. Just those three pots of earth, each planted with five seeds, produced all the cucumbers we ourselves needed with more to give away to friends.
The tomato plants, if placed next to a post or trellis, will climb six or eight feet high, the beans, with their brilliantly coloured scarlet flowers which hummingbirds cannot resist, will climb up trellis, strings and sticks as high or higher, and cucumbers if given a tomato cage to tempt them to initially climb up a couple of feet will readily do so then snake back down to ground level and spread out in all directions. My cucumber pots are placed conveniently on an old wooden table I made many years ago. This keeps them shielded from any damage caused by lying on wet ground and, being raised up, they are easily harvested when ripe.
In each of two or three other pots I grow a tobacco plant. They grow up very strong and high and are very attractive with enormous, deep green leaves. In the fall each produces a large spray of delicately-coloured flowers which are also much loved by hummingbirds. In October the leaves can be picked and hung up in the sun, but sheltered from the rain, until they are cured. The flower pods produce a prolific amount of tiny seeds, no larger than grains of pepper. When dried the 20” to 30” long and 12” wide leaves can be stored in the basement in paper bags for later spraying with rum or other seasoning and smoked in a pipe if desired. But that is an involved process I have yet to master with any true success.
Each fall I save enough of the scarlet-runner-bean pods, when they have turned yellow or brown and crisp, and each containing about five beans, to use for planting the next years crop. And when eating an especially finely-flavored tomato I pick out some of its seeds and drop them on a paper serviette, let them dry, and put them away for planting next spring.