Ask Gardenerd: Starter Advice for Container Gardening

I love when questions like this come from fresh gardenerds:

“I just stumbled on your website and am interested in gardening classes. I
started gardening this spring by using pots and hanging pots. My
veggies and herbs did extremely well. I put seedlings in potting soil,
watered occasionally, and voila! I’m an Ocean Park farmer! But now I’m
excited and want to learn the basics. Can you provide me with upcoming
class information and recommend an introductory book?  Thanks, Bob

Hi Bob,

I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying your
gardening experience so far.  It never gets boring, whether you’re
growing in containers or in the ground.  My classes are finishing up for
the season, but the next Santa Monica College course is already
scheduled for February next year.  Those dates and other classes will be
posted on the Classes page
of the Gardenerd website as they come up.  You can also check out our Latest News page to see where I’ll be doing lectures “out in the field”.  There’s one coming up on seed-saving at the end of October.

In the meanwhile I invite
you to check out these books, which are great small space gardening and
overall gardening books that I have had at my side for many years:


Organic Gardening
by Geoff Hamilton. A great basic book to have on hand. Has a
complete timeline for each item you want to grow, as well as visual
aids for soil and soil amendments.

Crops in Pots – by Bob Purnell. Get some great ideas about growing veggies in pots.

Square Foot Gardening – Mel Bartholomew’s life’s work and my original garden bible. You can also find Mel’s updated version of the same book with 10 revised concepts for the Square Foot Gardener  


McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container  – Apparently
this book is highly regarded as the bible for container vegetable
gardening.  I don’t have it in my collection yet, nor have I read it,
but it has great reviews.


Some Advice for Fall Gardening: 


Grow Potatoes – If
you have a few scary potatoes lying around in the pantry, you might
want to plant them this month.  Last year I experimented with growing potatoes in a container and came
up with a decent harvest from 2 potatoes:

The Potato Experiment:

Harvesting the Potato Experiment:

Herbs –  Containers are great for growing herbs because you can cram several plants into one pot.  Try trailing thyme with cilantro (grows really well in fall here in Los Angeles, BTW) and chives.  Not only will it look attractive with all of those different textures, you’ll have omelet fixin’s all in one place.

Salad Garden – You can fit 4 heads of lettuce in 1 square foot (according to Mel’s book) so it’s easy to have a few pots of salad greens going on the porch.  Add in some arugula and mustard greens and you have a gourmet salad without the threat of listeria.

I hope this helps you with your fall garden, and thanks for writing in!

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