Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Grow Your Own in Pots by Kay Maguire

There was a time when the title of this book might have had an entirely different connotation in my life, but in my middle-aged state, we're simply talking about fresh vegetables, folks, so don't get your hopes up.

For very nearly as long as I can remember, I've been a fan of fresh vegetables from the garden, especially tomatoes, and since my wife and I bought our first house, we've always had a garden spot. I decided that this year I wanted to try growing some tomatoes in large pots along a sunny fence in our back yard, so I picked up Kay Maguire's book to make sure I'm doing things correctly.

Some good tomato growing tips:
  • Pollenate tomatoes by misting the flowers or shaking them to help set fruit
  • Companion plants for tomatoes are marigolds, borage and basil
  • Trim the plants down to one main stem until five "trusses" develop, then pinch back tops
  • Feed weekly with 5-5-10
This book has great illustrations of space-saving projects, with step by step instructions, and everything is esthetically pleasing as well as allegedly productive. One downside, however, is that Maguire doesn't do a very good job of defining terms for the non-professional gardener. Perhaps she's written a basic gardening book, and assumes we all will have read it prior to reading this one.

Some of instructions also seem contradictory. For example, in order to keep plants in pots more humid and reduce watering needs, she suggests clustering them all together in groups in a convenient spot. But to avoid garden pests, like bugs, from spreading from one plant to another, she tells us to keep space between them. Sounds more like an art form than a science, which I suppose is to be expected.

For those who are interested, there was a fairly large section on how to grow fruit trees, including citrus, in pots, which could come in handy in colder climates, where you could take the plants inside during the winter months, and back outdoors when the summer sun reappears.

I liked the projects where she grows sweet potatoes in those cloth grocery bags, cilantro in an old colander (drat, I threw mine away), and rows of lettuce in crates. Lots of great ideas here.

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