Productive and pretty: Terra Viva

These days, the word ‘containers’ conjures up the big steel rectangles stuck either in the Suez Canal or the wrong ports. But gardeners know that there’s another whole world of containers that can always be in the right place.

Short of space or sunshine?

Containers are your answer because of their flexibility; most food-producing plants prefer full sun for maximum production, but some prefer part shade especially in the hot season (e.g. coriander, broccoli, pak choi, spinach, and rhubarb), which means you can give everything prime position as the seasons change.

Avoid using smaller pots which are limiting when it comes to crop choices. And of course, a VegePod is the ultimate in container gardening.
Raised timber beds (or corrugated iron) are another good option as most fruit and vegetables prefer good drainage, which you also get with containers. Raised beds make for easy maintenance not only because of easy access, but several beds are less daunting work-wise than one big single space.

The key to success with any gardening is the soil/potting mix, so always use premium quality. High quality potting mix will contain controlled-release fertilisers, Saturaid for even water distribution, and the correct micro-nutrients for the crop being grown.

Want to get creative?

Then add structures to the design for container/raised beds with obelisks, or wooden frames with vertical stringing for climbing beans, peas, and sweet peas.
Add companion plants that will not only improve the health and yield of your crops but make any garden a work of art.

  • Marigolds can be planted with just about anything (except cabbages) to deter soil nematodes and attract beneficial insects that will deal with the ‘bad boys’.
  • Lavender attracts bees and repels insects, and rosemary protects against insects on beans, carrots and cabbages.
  • Basil planted as a border with tomatoes deters insects, improves tomato flavour, and attracts bees.
  • Nasturtiums deter insects and the flowers are edible, as are viola flowers.

What to grow?

Just about anything edible! Patio dwarf fruit trees make a productive centrepiece. A garden divided into quarters containing strawberries, coriander, green lettuces, and red lettuces has good colour, contrast and interest. Broad beans and dwarf beans are best grown in rows for easy picking but most other crops are fine grown in the quarters of a raised bed. Add the companion planting to the raised bed or container as the finishing touch.

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