Ask Garden Girl: Sunset's Johanna Silver Unveils Her Secret Superpower: Answering Your Burning Botanical Questions

By Silver, Johanna | Sunset, April 2011 | Go to article overview

Ask Garden Girl: Sunset's Johanna Silver Unveils Her Secret Superpower: Answering Your Burning Botanical Questions


Silver, Johanna, Sunset


Q: A city patio is my only outdoor space. Can I grow veggies in pots?

--AMY CANNON, SANTA CRUZ, CA

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A: Without a doubt! Larger plants, like tomatoes, squash, and peppers, need containers at least a foot deep. Oak half barrels are perfect (find them at the garden store or on Craigslist)--just be sure to drill drain holes in the bottoms.

Use fresh potting soil; I also throw in a few handfuls of compost or organic granular fertilizer (Dr. Earth and E.B. Stone are my favorites). Just follow the instructions on the back of the box.

Don't crowd your plants! Those baby brussels sprouts look itty-bitty now, but have you seen a full-grown stalk? Those puppies are going to need room. Follow the spacing listed on the plant's nursery tag. We're talking one tomato or one zucchini per barrel. You'll thank me later.

Most veggies like regular moisture, meaning you should water the pot gently until some trickles out of the drain holes, and then stop! Repeat whenever the top inch of soil dries out--your finger is the best gauge.

Q: I'm growing a lot of edibles in my garden--how do I get rid of weeds? I really don't want to use chemicals.

--PIA IMMORDINO, SACRAMENTO

A: Two words: by hand. Get out there and pull 'em before they flower. A single weed has hundreds, even thousands, of new seeds in each bloom, all waiting to scatter across your yard. Try to get the roots too.

Sure, you can use tools like hoes or Japanese hori horis. But honestly, I like to use my bare hands, though my boyfriend wishes I wouldn't, since they get dry and chapped. …

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