BOISE, Idaho — Are you short on garden space, or is it hard for you to get down and dig in the dirt? If so, then container gardening is for you. not all vegetables and flowers have to grow in the ground. You can get a quick burst of spring color, and some good things to eat, in just minutes without getting your hands dirty.
We are learning how to make easy-to-grow-and-care-for blooming baskets and salad bowls. They’re perfect for the porch or the patio table, offering beauty and healthy food right outside your door. and you can grow it.
It’s no secret that I love gardening, but I tend to be a lazy gardener sometimes, always looking for the easiest way to do things. So today I’m going to put together a couple of easy mixed container plantings.
One is a blooming basket full of bright, colorful potted flowering plants for a real eye-catching display in these early days of spring.
The other is a little more practical – a living mixed salad bowl that you can eat from, and that will continue to grow throughout the season.
They’re both easy to make, and you can keep them right outside your door, and even bring them inside when we get a cold snap.
I have here an assortment of flowering plants and edible salad greens that I picked up at a local garden center. I’m not even going to remove them from their pots. Instead, I’m going to use these wicker baskets, lined with foil or plastic, and arrange the plants in them in their pots.
Let’s take a closer look at the plants that I’m going to use for this blooming basket. You can use whatever plants you prefer. I’ll start with some of the taller plants for the back of the basket.
Celosia, also known as cock’s comb, is a tall, upright flowering stalk that comes in a variety of bright colors. Its flame-like flower head can last up to a month.
Marigolds give us showy orange or yellow flowers that the ancient Aztecs associated with the sun. To them the marigolds were sacred, and they used them for medicine and as offerings to their sun gods. This variety is called an African marigold, even though it’s native to Central America.
Another tall specimen is salvia, a long-time favorite among gardeners, with its spikes of bright blue or purple flowers, like this cathedral deep blue variety. It can grow up to 18 inches tall and will bloom continuously through the summer, attracting pollinators to the garden.
Lobelia is a shorter plant with a mound of dark blue flowers that almost seem to glow against the background of dark green, bronzish leaves. It will bloom throughout the summer.
Primroses are one of the most popular early spring favorites, since it likes cooler weather. The delicate flowers come in a wide range of colors, and it does well in partial shade.
Pansies are another popular spring flower, and this variety, the marina pansy, looks more like dainty violas.
For an eye-catching splash of color, I’m including dianthus. This flower group includes pinks, carnations and sweet William. The serrated flowers give off a spicy fragrance similar to cinnamon or cloves.
The polka dot plant adds a little interest. Typically, a houseplant, it thrives in low-light settings, so it will do well tucked in among these other plants
And for something really different to break up the green, try dusty miller, with its striking silver foliage and lacy texture. It looks good throughout the whole growing season.
Finally, creeping Jenny is a vigorous ground cover with a dense mat of bright chartreuse-colored round leaves. It really adds some dimension as it spills over the sides of the basket.
Arrange the plants however you want them in the basket, leaving them in their original pots. I like how the taller flowers establish a backdrop for the smaller plants in front, and how the creeping Jenny cascades over the front of the basket.
Fill in around the plants with some Spanish moss, and we’re good to go. Keep the plants moist, but don’t over-water them. And if one plant does poorly, just pull it out and replace it.
And here we have our instant blooming basket.
Do the same thing to create a living salad bowl. Include a few different kinds of leaf lettuce, maybe some kale, and a few onion plants.
I’ll put the taller onions in the back, and fill in with the lettuce and the kale. And when I want a small salad, I’ll just clip a few leaves, and the plants will continue to grow.
There you have it. Instant spring color, and a healthy and delicious salad for dinner. And I didn’t even get my hands dirty.
Those living flower and salad baskets were created by leaving the plants in their original pots, but you can also fill the baskets with potting soil and add the plants, or, if you’re not in a hurry, you can directly sow some seeds that will eventually grow into the plants that you want.