Prentiss Riddle: Garden

aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada

Prentiss Riddle

home art austin books
causes chuckles garden
kids language movies
music time toys travel
Search this site

Archive by date
Archive by title


This year I'm living for nearly the first time in my life in an apartment without its own patch of dirt, so if I want to garden I have to learn to do it in containers.

herbs in a pot tomato plants in containers

Here are reference photos of a little pot of herbs and peppers and three tomato plants in plastic bins salvaged at a garage sale. I drilled drainage holes in the bins and filled all of the containers with expensive organic potting soil. (I need to look up a good potting soil recipe and make my own.) I think this should work, provided my porch still gets enough light when the trees are fully leafed out. I'll post again in a few months so you can see the results.

garden 2004.03.18 link


Does Austin have community gardens? Here in Ann Arbor there's Project Grow where you can get a plot of dirt in a park and grow your own tubers or tomatoes.

(someone somewhere suggested green when ripe tomatoes as good for community gardens, to avoid people stealing the ripe red ones)

Ed Vielmetti [emv cxe monkey punkto org] • 2004.03.18
Since I've always admired the community gardens less than a mile from here and never had a reason to join until now, it's odd that I hadn't considered them. But truth is, I don't think that daily visits are realistic for me these days. I'm more likely to water the plants on my porch.

The ripe-when-green tomatoes are an excellent tip.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.03.19
It's so odd to see all these pictures of helpless plant-startings outside...and then I remember that it's not currently snowing for everyone. But those look like mighty good containers. Will basil grow in Austin? I'm guessing it'll get hot enough at some point.

Audrey [oddmonster cxe madlinguist punkto com] • 2004.03.19
I did a container garden last year and had a patch of basil that did extremely well... basil can grow like weeds in austin!

davidnunez [david cxe davidnunez punkto com] • 2004.03.19
Hey, if you need some large nursery pots to put your tomatoes in as they get bigger, send me an email. I've got lots left over that you can have for free. (Some bamboo canes for trellising them, too)

chick [chick cxe austin punkto rr punkto com] • 2004.03.20
I just learned that a large vegetable bed formerly gardened by my landlord is vacant this year and I could use it if I wanted to.

So now I have to decide, do I want to transplant my container project into the ground? Or keep it but get new plants for the veggie bed? Or just stick with the containers? If I want to do real in-the-ground gardening I'll have to invest not only in store-bought compost but buy new tools as well. Decisions, decisions.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.03.21
I've always had more luck gardening in ground than in containers, but then again I've never lived in Austin.

Audrey [oddmonster cxe madlinguist punkto com] • 2004.03.22
Lemon balm is wonderful and the worse the soil, the better it smells. Japanese green shiso also grows easily in containers and tastes so good in everything! Yay, it's spring!

Maktaaq [maktaaq cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2004.03.23
We've got a bunch of lemon balm too. We used to think it was mint, and indeed have tried to use it as such, in making mojados for example, but it doesn't quite work. Any suggestions on how best to employ this affable weed?

bruce [bmccands1 cxe aol punkto com] • 2004.03.23
Whoops. I meant "mojitos."

bruce [bmccands1 cxe aol punkto com] • 2004.03.23
Bruce: Chopped finely (very finely) it gives a great zing to banana bread. I can send you a recipe if you're interested.

Also good for making lemonade along with lemons, sugar and an additional herb like mint or rosemary. Okay, now I want to go home and make lemonade.

Audrey [oddmonster cxe madlinguist punkto com] • 2004.03.23
Thanks Audrey! Both the banana bread and lemonade ideas sound great. I'll just add some to my standard banana bread recipe and see how it goes, to save you the trouble of typing in a recipe....

bruce [bmccands1 cxe aol punkto com] • 2004.03.23
I was going to suggest the lemonade! Mmmm!

Maktaaq [maktaaq cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2004.03.24
I have a whole backyard full of space that needs to be planted. You are my guest anytime :)
And, I plant to get some bamboo!

Camilo [camilo cxe confusedkid punkto com] • 2004.03.25
Prentiss, I'm not sure how your gardening is going, but it seems to me that the season so far is unusually good for flowers, especially mountain laurel. I've never seen it so plentiful or lush before. We've got a bumper crop of ocoee, wisteria, and Lady Banks roses as well, plus it looks like the dogwood is starting to bloom. How's by you?

bruce [bmccands1 cxe aol punkto com] • 2004.03.31
Yes, the mountain laurel was spectacular this year, wasn't it?

From where I sit all day the shade trees are greening out like mad (threatening to stunt my porch tomatoes, but oh well) and several huisache trees are blooming golden. It looks like it's going to be a bumper year for bluebonnets. Zinnias and cosmos are sprouting in little seedling pots so I should have some cut flowers in a couple of months. And my landlord's fig trees look like they'll be bearing in abundance. Quite a spring!

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.04.01
A belated update: This first experiment had mixed results.

The herbs thrived until I was gone for two weeks in July and they died. I'm just now getting around to replacing them.

The tomatoes got maybe three spindly feet tall and then did nothing despite plenty of water and TLC. I'm guessing that my porch is just too shady during the summer months when the sun is higher and the trees are in full leaf. But miraculously, the plants didn't die in July and in August even bore one small tomato! Now they're blooming again. The sun is lower and getting through to my porch for a few more hours each day, so I'm going to try cutting them back and fertilizing to see whether they decide to grow a bit. They say fall is the best season for tomatoes in Texas anyway.

Next year I need to scrounge for a sunnier spot. I wonder whether my upstairs neighbor would let me put them out on the landing in return for a share of the goods?

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.08.29
Here's a good recipe for homemade potting soil:

Dirt Doctor's Potting Soil
10 parts compost
8 parts lava sand
6 parts peat moss
4 parts peat moss
4 parts cedar flakes
2 parts earthworm castings
1 part greensand
1 part bran/cornmeal amendment
1/2 part sul-po-mag
1/2 part dry molasses

very powerful and needs little if any additional fertilizer. Usually too strong for indoor plants.

Gleaned from "Herbs for Texas" by Howard Garrett.

All ingredients are available at The Natural Gardener and probably at The Great Outdoors.

Have fun,

Mrs. Dixon [mrsldixon cxe aol punkto com] • 2007.04.16
1. Have read that fertilizer is largely a waste on tomatoes.
2. Consider companion plants - at the end of this, I'll put an excerpt and link. (Links ok? I never read the "Terms of Use", yer blog is no exception.)
3. I haven't done tomatoes in containers, but lots of other things. Have decided to try containers for tomatoes next year, cut down on the weeding.


Excerpt:TOMATOES: Tomato allies are many: asparagus, basil, bean, carrots, celery, chive, cucumber, garlic, head lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley, pepper, marigold, pot marigold and sow thistle. Basil repels flies and mosquitoes, improves growth and flavor. Bee balm, chives and mint improve health and flavor. Borage deters tomato worm, improves growth and flavor. Dill, until mature, improves growth and health, mature dill retards tomato growth. Enemies: corn and tomato are attacked by the same worm. Kohlrabi stunts tomato growth. Keep potatoes and tomatoes apart as they both can get early and late blight contaminating each other. Keep cabbage and cauliflower away from them. Don't plant them under walnut trees as they will get walnut wilt, is a disease of tomatoes growing underneath walnut trees.

Ed [edward-ebersole cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2007.07.11
More garden >