Growing Peppers and Other Vegetables in Container Gardens
The same plastic cultivation bags such as Grobags can also be used for growing, , and . One business, a long time ago now admittedly, supplied schools in Southwark with miniature bags and this was so successful that the company also supplied residents in a block of flats in London’s dockland with full-sized bags, plants to grow in them, and instructions on cultivation. The balconies soon became bowers of fruiting and flowering plants and the crops of , courgettes, etc., delighted the residents who could otherwise not have ‘gardened’.
Growing peppers successfully out of doors, they will require a very sunny and sheltered position. You can grow them from seed or buy in young plants. The latter have been quite easy to obtain during the last few years, though as always the advantages of raising your own from seed includes being able to choose which variety to grow. There are such exotics as Slim Pim, which crops heartily out of doors, giving fruits of about 2+ inches long for casseroles, salads, etc; Canape Hybrid, the recognisably supermarket sort; and Pedro, a tomato-shaped pepper for a very warm wall or inside a sunroom window. The peppers come dark green, turning red later. Pick them before they reach too large a size, thus encouraging the plants to produce more fruit. Some people prune them right back and grow them on indoors for a second year’s harvest.
Again in a sunny spot or window, you can grow aubergines. Theare most decorative, even if you do not succeed in cropping any fruit, being purple with a yellow eye.
Scarlet runner beans, sometimes called climbing stick beans, are equally attractive in flower as well as producing a very worthwhile crop. I have grown them successfully not only in deep boxes but as a lovely jungly trailing plant in a large white plastic bucket hanging from a roof beam on a balcony. They need a good rich compost and regular feeding and watering, and as with many other fruiting subjects a light spray over the flowers with plain water each day helps the fruit to set. Sow the seed March—April, 2 ins deep and 6 ins apart. Support the young growth with twiggy sticks such as snippings of dead privet, or you can grow them up trellis — I have actually seen them grown round a front door, where they gave a long period of colour — plus, of course, a crop of beans.
Even a garage wall could be used for beans, with the plants trained up wires, plastic mesh, or what you will. Although the familiar red flowers are very pretty there are other runner beans with white or orange flowers which might well fit in better with your own colour scheme. The beans are just as succulent. There are also beans with gold and purple pods; and dwarf and bush beans for a low-growing crop. Planting dwarf French marigolds between the beans is said to keep away greenfly and blackfly.
Variegated flower cabbage is a super plant for window boxes, patio planters, even hanging baskets, out of doors, for it is at its most colourful, providing crisp decorative rosettes of pink, lavender, purple, white, and green, in the cold months of winter. Indeed, it colours best of all in the frostiest weather. To eat it would be a sin! It is a ‘must’ for winter decoration, and the decorative kales can look equally attractive; one called Strawberries and Cream looks as delicious as its name. Kales and flower cabbages are grown from seed sown in spring and planted out as they begin to make sizeable plants.
Seakale beet (Swiss ruby chard) is such a handsome sea beet which, even if you could not eat it, would still be worth a place in anyone’sand is quite beautiful enough to put at the front of the house. It can be used as a central plume in a winter hanging basket out of doors. Again the colour is at its best and most cheerful during the winter, the green leaves being set off by a fine shocking-pink broad main rib and stem. The plants will go on until you tire of them or eat them, or until they grow too leggy as they come up to flower. I have grown them on in a very big tub right through the following summer, finding it necessary to stake the heavy head of flowers. The young plants make an unusual setting for bulbs and golden-foliaged or winter flowering ericas (heathers) and I really cannot speak too highly of them, along with the flower cabbages and kales.
Grown from a packet of seed, the stalks and broad mid-rib of chard are eaten as sea kale and the leaves as spinach. You need not spoil the display if you frugally take off a few outer leaves at a time for cooking. There is also a chard with a lettuce-green leaf and a white mid-rib, equally striking over a lengthy period, which can be cooked in the same way.
Even a dwarf apple tree can be grown in a large garden planter. Some nurseries offer young trees on a dwarf root stock, which encourages early fruiting, with a very dwarf habit and small roots. They do need staking, but can be trained into dwarf pyramids, espalier, or cordon shapes, just like ordinary apple trees. Also available to be grown in tubs on balconies, roof gardens, and so on, are ‘Family trees’ which consist of three varieties of apple or three of pear grafted on one tree. They make an evenly-balanced bush. As the growers point out, should you move house within six years of planting you can take your orchard with you!