BY BARBARA STORZ
Updated at 1:35 p.m. for minor edits
Vegetables and herbs are easy to grow in containers and will provide you with a variety of produce at your fingertips. Container gardening offers many benefits, including ease of access, utilization of small spaces and reduced water use. Using containers allows you to control the soil mix and, when containers have rollers or are relatively small, you will be able to move your vegetables to a safer place during bad weather.
By using containers, there is no need for big equipment such as tillers or even shovels. A hand trowel, rake and small clippers will take care of most gardening jobs. Weeding in a container is also a breeze.
Horticultural soap and Neem oil will deter destructive insects and planting flowers among the vegetables and herbs will attract beneficial insects. If you catch them early, you may be able to pick off and kill some insect pests. Be sure to study the insects coming to your garden so that you can learn which are beneficial and which are pests.
If you want something larger than flower pots or wash tubs, a 4-feet-by-8-feet vegetable/flower bed is a good size for a variety of vegetables. With a width of 4 feet, you can sit on either side of the bed and reach vegetables for harvest. Anything wider is difficult to work in. And, by adding a trellis structure on one end, it is easy to accommodate small melons or cucumbers.
Now is a great time to prepare for your fall vegetable garden. In South Texas, we can plant about 50 different vegetables and herbs in a fall/winter growing season, so you have lots of choices. If you keep it small to begin with, you can add more containers as your skills advance. If you have children, get them involved in the project. Gardening is a great way to encourage them to eat vegetables.
You can pick up a copy of the Vegetable Planting Guide at the Growing Growers Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to noon today at Firemen’s Park in McAllen on the northwest corner of 1st Street and Business 83. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions and to provide information on upcoming vegetable gardening classes. The market also provides a variety of locally grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, local honey, artisan cheese, goat’s milk, as well as jams and jellies and baked goods.
Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. Listen to her gardening show at 7 a.m. Saturdays on 710 KURV Radio, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.