Round Foot Gardening

The beginning of my deck garden at Bluebird Gardens.

The beginning of my deck garden at Bluebird Gardens.

Round Foot Gardening

You have heard of square foot gardening, the practice of dividing up a garden plot into squares and carefully planting each square with a desired crop?

This is round foot gardening, what I used to call pot gardening but because that leads one to think of Colorado and that one is planting marijuana, let’s just be a little more square about it all. Most of my pots full of soil are at least one foot around and no one I know has a foot that looks like a circle so I think we should all be good with this new terminology.

I have been planting basic herbs and vegetables in round pots on my deck now for several years; enough years that I prefer it to trying to tend a full garden. I keep telling you, I am basically a lazy gardener. I like this option because the pots are easily accessible from my kitchen. I can also see them out my dining room windows, just in case I have forgotten a garnish or some other last minute fresh ingredient I need to add, and my squirrels look at least guilty as they sneak by stealing a cherry tomato.

Some basic gardening principles from full gardens apply here as well:

1.    Don’t plant the same crops in the same pots more than 2 years in a row so make a note and rotate. I cheat: I take photos and date them to remind myself of what I planted when and in what pot. I also use certain sticks and stakes, moving those around from year to year.

2.    Be kind to your soil. Don’t let it dry out. Keep it healthy by adding compost, mulching, keeping it watered and planted with something when you are not growing something you want to eat.

3.    If weeds grow and you haven’t planted anything else, leave the weeds. Volunteer cover crops are welcome and will keep the soil nourished in between your plantings.

4.    Frost free dates are the same. Although Mother’s Day is our traditional USDA Zone 5b date, we may be mid-April this year. If you can’t wait and get an early start, make sure you have something to protect your outside crops on those nights when temperatures dip. Other pots, plastic, even old winter coats will work to give your tender greens a little protection.

5.    Water daily. To make sure my plant roots are kept moist, I add plastic bottles with holes buried into each pot and use them to keep pots well hydrated.

6.    Add crushed soda cans, old packing peanuts, broken terra cotta pieces to pot bottoms to help lighten the weight. Keeping the bottom lose also helps water to filter through more easily.

7.    Mix vegetables with flowers to make pretty arrangements. Many herbs are edible so mix vegetables with flowers for pretty arrangements. Add violets and basil to a pot with a tomato.

Plastic bottle with holes buried in pot helps keep soil moist. Red onion is liberated from crisper.

Plastic bottle with holes buried in pot helps keep soil moist. Red onion is liberated from crisper.

8.    Go to your refrigerator and clean out your crisper of sprouting onions, potatoes, celery and carrots and you are well on your way.

9. Don't forget to dream about your garden, even one in small pots!