This week we will touch on food self-sufficiency and are presenting beginner level info on easy ways to feed ourselves, the bees and other pollinators, all at the same time. Let's look at container growing, mainly in flowerpots, but you can use whatever containers you want. This is something everyone can do, even in a third-floor apartment if there is a small balcony.
The video we’ve chosen for today is 5 Best Crops for Your Edible Container Garden, by GrowVeg, and it's 5:23 minutes long.
Container crops don’t have a very extensive root system, so you’ll need to keep them well hydrated, and water up to twice daily in the heat of summer. Use liquid fertilizer to nourish them in growing season. Tomato feed is good for tomatoes and strawberries. General purpose feed like liquid seaweed is suitable for most other potted crops.
As always, we recommend using heirloom or organic non-GMO seeds if possible and that you stay away from toxic fertilizers for yourself and the pollinators.
Here are a few easy crops. Choose as many as you are comfortable with and add more as your confidence grows.
Strawberries – need sunshine, consistent watering, and nutrient rich moisture-retentive potting soil with organic fertilizer mixed into the soil before planting the strawberries. Bees visit strawberry flowers while foraging for pollen and nectar, but don’t like them. It takes 6 to 15 bee visits to pollinate a strawberry fully.
Tomatoes – easy to grow and similar to strawberries in their needs. Use a potting mix with added loam so the tomatoes hold on to moisture longer. Related eggplants, aubergines and peppers are also great for container growing. Tomatoes require 'buzz pollination' and bumblebees specialize in it. Buzz pollinators vibrate their bodies to shake the pollen loose from the enclosed anthers of these and other solanaceous crops. Planting a few marigolds near the tomatoes repels apids.
Lettuce – ideal in flowerpots, seed a new pot of mixed salad leaves every 3-4 weeks for a range of colors, leaf shapes and textures. Radishes and green onions are natural potted partners. Bees do not pollinate lettuce.
Carrots – (small varieties) are ideal for flowerpot growth, and to add to salad or steam. Sew them in spring and summer, plant them mixed with sand to space them out. They do well in tall flowerpots, so carrot flies don’t get to them. They may need to be thinned. Eat the biggest ones first and work on down size-wise.
Chard – seed chard directly into containers in spring at least 6 inches apart and first leaves should be ready to snip and eat about 3 months later. The crop lasts into autumn and in mild climates, even into winter.
NATURAL BUG REPELLENT FLOWERS AND HERBS
Chrysanthemum might be the best plant to deter ants, Japanese beetles, roaches, bed bugs, spider mites, silverfish, and ticks. It is even used in some bug repellents. Spiders can hide in them and attack foraging bees.
Citronella Grass repels mosquitoes.
Culinary Herbs Basil, Chives, Lavender, Rosemary are loved by bees in their flowering phase. We've blogged before about culinary herbs. NOTE: mint and garlic repel bees as well as pests.
Marigold may smell bad to humans, but honeybees seeking nectar and pollen like it and it repels many pesky insects.
Petunias are colorful and drive off leafhoppers, aphids, tomato worms, asparagus beetles and more. They have little nectar and pollen so are useless to bees.
Why containers? For flexibility and the ability to grow more. Most herbs, vegetables and fruits can grow in pots, but these five easy-to-grow edibles are well suited to containers.
Have any bee-friendly container gardening secrets? Please share them over on our Facebook page! :)