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Terracotta is an attractive and practical material for pots, but make sure they are frost proof

and salads in pots and containers on a balcony, windowsill or simply on steps or in hanging baskets. Vegetables can be as pretty as fl owers and they add a very different dimension to the range of plants that you can grow in containers. Mix them in with other planting or simply have a mixture of vegetables, salad and herbs in the same pot. There are many benefi ts to growing

N Herbs are easy to grow in

pots. You can eat the leaves and flowers of chives

plants in containers as well as a huge range of containers to choose from. If plants are grown in pots they can be situated close by and this makes them easier to manage and care for, keeping a close eye out for pests and diseases. Plants that need differing soil conditions

can also grow happily next to each other in containers where it would not be so easy in the vegetable garden. Plants with specifi c needs such as moisture-loving tomatoes and drought tolerant herbs can live next to lime-loving kale or cabbage as well as acid-loving cranberries. The range is enormous. You can grow acid-loving blueberries in special ericaceous compost. Containers also allow you to grow plants greedy for moisture such as courgettes and cucumbers. Using containers you can regulate watering and customise the growing medium dependent on the individual plant’s needs. Growing in containers also offers much

fl exibility, they can fi ll awkward spaces, can be moved around, grouped according to the planting arrangement and, if you are growing plants which have fi nished, you can simply move the pot out of sight and replace with another which is in full fl ow. Pots can be placed in borders or used to fi ll out blank areas in the garden, or in diffi cult places under hedges or in dark dank areas!

Pot luck There is a huge range of containers to choose from, terracotta, glazed terracotta, plastic as well as reclaimed and galvanised, metal, fi breglass, stone and timber. Generally it is best to stick to similar types of pots in groups or it can end up looking too busy. Different shapes and sizes are also an important factor in deciding what to use. Choose compost that also suits the type

If you are short on space, try growing tomatoes in pots or hanging baskets. Remember to water and feed them

of growing you are going to do. Soil based composts are best suited to fruit trees and shrubs as they hold moisture and nutrients for longer and, as they are fairly weighty, help to keep the pot heavy and stop things

ot everyone has room in their garden to grow vegetables or indeed has a garden at all. It is possible to grow vegetables


blowing away in the wind! It’s a good idea to mix in some perlite or other aerating material that will aid drainage. Multipurpose compost is suitable for

more temporary plantings such as salads or annuals, but they only contain enough nutrition for around six weeks and, as they are lightweight, tend to dry out easily and need a lot of watering, which also washes the nutrients away more quickly. Ericaceous compost is best for lime and

acidic-loving plants including blueberries and cranberries, as if these are planted in normal soil they go yellow and end up dropping dead. You can mix up your own compost using water retaining granules, sand for drainage, perlite or vermiculite for aeration as well as slow-release fertiliser. This mix would make moving containers more practical as they would be less heavy, which would be useful in a balcony situation, or on a roof garden or somewhere where the pots are less transportable. All the usual rules apply with container

growing. Deadheading is key as this encourages growth; checking for pests and diseases; keeping good garden hygiene by removing dead leaves and other bits and pieces to keep the area clean; pruning and watering, training and supporting. Mulching the tops of your containers

will also be benefi cial and you can choose from slate chippings, pebbles, gravel, bark, cocoa shells, pine cones, crushed sea shells and crushed glass. The mulch will retain moisture and suppress weeds as well as help keep the roots cool. This can also make pots highly ornamental and attractive and add to the colours of the plants. Putting grey chipped slate around lavender, for example, looks really good and it’s worth trying different variations. All of this is fairly basic care but will keep your containers in tip-top condition. Many of the most useful culinary herbs

can grow better in containers. Plant them in amongst salads and annual fl owers. Rosemary and sage are evergreen and will give an all-year-round supply of herbs for cooking. Use your imagination and throw out the rule-book. It’s worth experimenting with different variations to fi nd the ones you like the most. BL

Emma Bond, Bath Garden Design and Landscaping, Orchard Studio, Old Orchard, 88a Walcot Street, Bath Photos © Emma Bond 07968 727415; Bath Life 67

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