First you plant lettuce, then…….

Succession planting is a wonderful way to make the most of a postage stamp size veg garden. There is a great article on how to do this by Charlie Nardozzi, over at the National Gardening Association’s website HERE. The article has some beautiful,(but too small) photos of mixed garden beds and good information on crop rotation and companion planting.

I want to encourage first time gardeners to do jumbo pots, at least 24 inches across, and one foot deep, minimum. Deeper is better. Tomatoes love to grow long deep roots. And we will add tomatoes when the time is right. Look for something lightweight and easy to drag or move…..especially critical if you are putting this on the patio where you will be entertaining. Invest in a $10 roller for the pot with at four casters. If you like the industrial look, go for an old fashioned shiny metal trash can. Punch drain holes in the bottom and put some styrofoam peanuts in the first 12 inches. (There’s a whole ‘nother post on the pros and cons of the interface created between the peanuts and the soil and yada yada yada, but let’s put those peanuts to good use for now).

Fill this pot with a mix of good quality potting soil (I lean toward Black Gold or Whitney Farms) with 3/4 potting soil and 1/4 compost. And here’s where I get kind of picky: go for a compost that is not derived from animal waste. Sorry, but that’s my take on it for now. I know, I know, this is getting a little pricey. But you will only have to do this once this growing season. The pot will need a little topping off next year. Please don’t buy the potting soil with the added moisture retention granules. I keep reading that these polymers break down into something nasty.

Now that the pot is full of delish soil mix, dampen the entire pot, not soaking, but damp. Use warm water if at all possible because it is absorbed a little better by the commercial potting mixes. I turn the hose on, with a sprayer on the end, in the off position. Let the hose fill up with water, and then let the hose sit in the sun for a half hour. Saves on the hot water heater. Solar POWAH!

Now, sprinkle a pack of leaf lettuce seeds on top of the damp soil. You might want to try a more foodie/restaurant salad approach, using mesclun or corn salad seed mix. Sprinkly evenly. Now put a thin, maybe 1/4 inch layer of damp potting soil on top of that to hold it in place.

Soon as those little pups sprout, you can go back in and put a few sugar snap peas around the perimeter of your pot. As these items mature, we will be adding a flower or two and a tomato.