For some time now, I have wanted to try growing some fruits and veggies for the family.  Because we have a rental home, we are very limited with what we can do.  Then I heard about container gardening.  Apparently, you can grow almost anything in a pot that you would normally grow in the ground, just on a smaller scale.  I figured it could serve several purposes in our case:  First, seeing as how I have never had success at keeping any plant alive, I could learn a bit about gardening prior to planting a larger garden on the homestead.  Secondly, it would be a great homeschool project, and highly educational for the kids to learn where some of their food comes from.  Thirdly, it would just be a fun experiment that would hopefully have the added benefit of producing something edible.  Thus began our container garden experiment. 

Now, mind you, I was dealing with several limitations.  We determined we wouldn’t invest anything beyond basic soil and seed if possible.  I didn’t want to invest several hundred dollars in fancy supplies to learn that I would just forget to water.  Additionally, we will only live in this house for another year before moving again, so I am basically only dealing with one, maybe 2 growing seasons.  The owners left a bunch of pots in the side yard, so I decided to put them to use instead of buying anything fancy.  I was also very limited on available space to put my pots. 

We started our project several months ago with the purchase of an indoor seed starter kit and several types of veggie seeds.  We have a relatively early growing season here if plants are started indoors.  So, for our homeschool activity one day, JR helped me plant the seeds, water, and label everything. 

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We religiously watered, and when the seedling emerged, we put them outside every day for a few hours of direct sunlight.  JR was so excited to see them growing, and would report to me almost every day on how they were doing.   Finally, when the risk of frost was passed and the seedlings were large enough, I thinned them out and put them in pots.

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My biggest limitation was the space available for my pots.  I had no area to actually grow a garden, I couldn’t group my pots anywhere that would risk killing the grass, and the few areas that had no grass also got no sun.   I had a sidewalk, but I had to leave a path open for the kids to walk by.  This left me only one option which was to place the pots in a row down my sidewalk. 

My row of veggetables.

My row of vegetables.

 This is certainly not an ideal set up, as it seems like crops are supposed to be grouped together in clusters, or at least in multiple side-by-side rows to help with fruit fertilization.  That is not an option for us though, so the best I could do was plant multiples of each plant, place them side-by-side, and see what happens.  In order to better utilize my limited number of pots, I also attempted symbiotic planting of different vegetables.  For example, beans and corn love each other, tomatoes and carrots love each other, and squash and corn also do very well together. 

The corn/squash is on the right, then a corn, then a corn/pole bean, then a pole bean.  Notice how the 2 pots that have multiple plants are thriving and the other 2 are not.  I don't know if this is because of the relationship they have, because they simply have a bigger pot, or something else, but I do find it very interesting.

The corn/squash is on the right, then a corn, then a corn/pole bean, then a pole bean. Notice how the 2 pots that have multiple plants are thriving and the other 2 are not. I don't know if this is because of the relationship they have, because they simply have a bigger pot, or something else, but I do find it very interesting.

Tomatoes and carrots are in the 2 center pots, and just tomatoes are in both end pots.  Again, interestingly, the plants in mixed pots are thriving, while the other 2 are just doing OK.  The tomato plants in the end pots are about 1/2 the size of the one in the 2 middle pots.

Tomatoes and carrots are in the 2 center pots, and just tomatoes are in both end pots. Again, interestingly, the plants in mixed pots are thriving, while the other 2 are just doing OK. The tomato plants in the end pots are about 1/2 the size of the one in the 2 middle pots.

 As of now, my celery all died after transplant to the larger pots.  My strawberries did ok and even gave us some deliciously sweet berries for a couple of weeks, but have since stopped fruiting, and are now growing new, healthy looking green foliage.  I have spotted a few flowers, so hopefully we will have more strawberries soon.  The squash that are with the corn are thriving and are currently growing about 6 straight-neck yellow summer squash, but only one of the plants that is in a pot alone is growing, but has yet to produce a fruit.  Likewise, the pole beans that are growing with the corn are thriving, large, and have started flowering, while the bean that is alone is slowly dying off.  The corn with the other veggies is thriving, and interestingly enough, one of the the stalks has actually branched off into 4 different stalks.  I did not know that was possible, but one article I read said not to prune it.  Rather, it said it may possibly produce more corn fruits, and will likely help with fertilization (and I need all the help I can get there!).   The corn growing alone is growing, but is yellow and about 1/2 the size of the other 2, so I don’t know if will do anything.  My carrots, which are all planted with tomatoes, are thriving.  Out of curiousity, when we thinned the other day, there was a very small diameter purple root on one, and we tasted it just for kicks.  It actually had the flavor of a carrot already!  The tomatoes with the carrots are thriving, big, and bushy, and I am hoping for fruit soon, while the other 2 lone plants are doing ok.  At least they seem to be healthy, if not as lush.  1/2 my broccoli is doing well, while the other 1/2 is either dead or barely hanging on.  One in particularly seems to be thriving, and I hope to get broccoli from it.  I also have letttuce and a few melons which were planted later, so it is yet to be determined how they are doing. 

This is no doubt a learning experience, and even if we aren’t able to get much out of it, it has been and is incredibly educational.  The kids are learning an appreciation already for the time and effort it takes to produce just one meal, and that is a priceless lesson in this modern age of instant supermarkets and out-of-season veggies!

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.  For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example.  We were not idle when we were with you , nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it.  On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.  We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.  For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”  We hear that some among you are idle.  They are not busy; they are busybodies.  Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.  And as for you, brother, never tire of doing what is right. 

 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-13

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