IN theory a few vegetables as well as herbs can be grown in pots, but what we normally regard as pots are not very successful in the summer in Spanish gardens once temperatures rise above 20 degrees.
Today and for the past few days our temperature in the shade hovers around 37 degrees but vegetables, if watered every other day, are growing well in black builders buckets of 55 centimetre diameter as shown in the photograph and of 65 centimetres elsewhere in semi- shaded corners of the garden.
They include red and crinkly green lettuces, rocket, Swiss chard, purslane, carrots, cabbages, cauliflowers, stevia, cumin, horseradish, climbing yardlong and butter beans, dwarf beans, tomatoes, nasturtiums for edible leaves, flowers and seed pods, several types of peppers and aubergines, courgettes, onions plus leeks producing seed for autumn sowing.
Based on our now 12 years of experimenting with large tub growing along the lines of the concept of a ‘10-tub vegetable garden’ launched in our book ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ there are many benefits as described below.
1. Small space required – you can build up a circle, square, oblong or row in one bucket units of just a quarter of a square metre.
2. High yield per square metre – close planting works well and you have no unplanted areas and paths to worry about.
3. Speedy harvesting – if you choose vegetables regularly used and co-locate the salad and ones for steaming for instance daily or twice daily, harvesting takes just minutes.
4. Relatively inexpensive – if you hunt around builders’ buckets are not expensive and secondhand ones can be used if located.
5. Little waste as number of plants controlled by your space.
6. Co-located salads – all the year round.
7. Accommodate small and expansive plants.
8. No space for weeds – if one plants close to give shade to roots.
9. Easy to use mutual mulching- for instance lettuces around aubergines.
10. Easy soil enrichment – just make good initial soil/compost/manure mixes and top up between crops.
11. Low water wastage – no sideways losses to dry earth.
12. Circular support frames for tomatoes, peppers and beans, etc, for strength.
13. Rare insect and fungi attacks – no major area of vulnerable crops.
14. Companion plant – using mutually beneficial herbs and vegetables.
15. Instant filling of gaps to replace cleared crops – just pop in a few new plantlets from local market or garden centre.
16. Easy to move or reorganise – nothing too heavy to pull around.
17. Feature or hidden away – part of mine is an island on the drive.
© Dick Handscombe www.gardenspain.com July 2015