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The last Gardening Spirit column has gardeners asking me about vegetables in pots. There are only a few rules that you should follow to grow tomatoes and cucumbers (not to mention eggplant, peppers, etc.) successfully:
1. Choose the largest pots you can get and afford (in one photo above, one of my dogs, a large standard poodle, sits next to the pots of tomatoes on our deck. She's dwarfed by the size of the terra cotta pots. These pots are BIG, but more importantly, they're DEEP, so roots can go a long way down.)
2. Stake the plants the day you put them in the pot, and use BIG stakes. These giant bamboo stakes look too big now, but soon, they won't be big enough! Also, if you wait until the plants are already established to stake, you'll end up driving stakes through now-widespread root systems and damaging the plants. So please stake the day you plant. Drive the stakes deep into the soil so they won't tip over when the plants gets heavy. I use raffia ties along the stakes.
3. Mulch. Potted vegetables dry out fast, but mulch (I use red for vegetables) retains water so you can water less frequently.
4. Feed. I use Alaska fish fertilizer (STINKY, but good) about every 2 weeks, more often when tomatoes are on the vine.
It's been in the 90s the past couple of days, and the vegetables are really taking off.
Thank you, Mother E.!