Gardeners' Corner

I’m planning to grow basil this year. (We practically live on caprese in the summer) Any thoughts on the best basil for tomatoes and cheese applications?

I’d like to grow it in the house, so something that can survive living in a pot would be best.

I may also try growing tomatoes again (our soil is awful, so again it would need to be something that can grow in a pot.)

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I think your standard Genovese basil should do OK in a pot, with the advantage that you could move it inside or into shade on really hot days to help prevent bolting. My standard green basil for my beds is Everleaf Emerald Towers, which doesn’t bolt at all for me. It just dies back in the fall.

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Thinking about good tomato varieties for caprese that will grow well in pots …

My initial thought is to ask whether you’re doing more of a caprese salad (in which case you have quite a few good cherry tomato options) or if you’re making caprese sandwiches (in which case you probably want a beefsteak or slicer variety, which is a little trickier for a container).

Broadly speaking, you want to lean toward determinate varieties to grow in pots, because they won’t get huge like indeterminate varieties generally will. But the drawback of determinate varieties is that they set a lot of fruit all at once. That’s good if you’re growing tomatoes for canning or to make sauces or salsa, but not so great if you’re going for something to eat fresh.

Then there’s the question about what kind of flavor you prefer for your tomatoes. In addition to your standard “Better Boy” tomato flavor, some varieties are quite sweet with low acidity, and others have a more complex smoky flavor. And do you care if it’s an heirloom or hybrid variety? Hybrids will, generally speaking, produce more fruit and have better disease resistance. But heirlooms are popular for a reason, and they have the advantage that you can save the seeds and grow more next year without having to buy anything new.

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Wow, thanks for the great info!

We’re more the slice of tomato with a slice of cheese more than salads. (actually I slice a baguette into thin slices, give 'em a bit of olive oil and toast them in the oven. Then put the slice of tomato and slice of cheese on top. with some balsamic glaze and the basil.

I bought heirloom tomatoes a few times last year and the taste was wonderful, complex without being overly acidic. I’ve tried growing tomatoes in pots before, and got a lovely plant, but no fruit. I don’t think tomatoes are like corn where you need several plants to pollinate, but I could be wrong.

This is what I was leaning toward, so good to know it’s a good option.

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Tomatoes self-pollinate, so no worries there. You can help them along a little by gently tapping the flowers when they open with your finger or a pencil, or if you have an electric toothbrush you can gently vibrate them. That’s probably more important if you’re growing inside, where the plants won’t be exposed to insects or wind that will naturally loosen the pollen.

For a standard, red fruit, Marglobe is probably a good heirloom variety for you to try. You also could look into the Celebrity hybrid tomato. If you want something a little different, Black Krim gets lots of rave reviews for taste and is said to be container-friendly. I loved the Paul Robeson tomatoes I grew last year, but those plants are liable to get too big and unwieldy for a container.

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Planted some poblano and sweet pepper, Campari tomato, and acorn squash seeds in small pots. The peppers still haven’t sprouted, so went to Lowes and purchased 9 poblano and 4 sweet and a handful of other pepper plants.

The acorn squash seeds have grown the best so far…

The tomato sprouts are looking weak but hoping for the best.

Refreshed the raised beds with 8 bags of Black Kow and two bags of raised bed soil.

Hopefully have some good stuff to pick in the garden by May/June…

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Nice! My pepper and basil seeds have sprouted now on the heat mat. I won’t be starting tomatoes here for a couple of weeks yet. I do have spinach, arugula, lettuce and cilantro sown in one of my beds, and today I soaked snap peas and snow peas with plans to plant them in a couple of days.

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I very much want a garden and am thinking of starting a potted herb garden this summer as a way to begin and figure out how much I really like it. Dollar store has starter kits for oregano and basil, and I do really want to also grow lavender and mint to experiment with making foods with them. Does anybody have suggestions for these plants specifically or other plants that can be grown in pots until I can get an actual garden bed (probably not for a couple years)?
And is what I’ve read online correct that it’s best for most plants not to plant them or put them outside until after the last frost? Trying to figure out when to start.

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Yes, it’s true, you don’t want to put plants outside until after the last frost. (for most places with cold winters, that’s usually after Mother’s Day)

You also need to “harden off” plants before moving things grown inside outdoors. That means you need to set the plants outside during the day (assuming it’s above 50 degrees F) and bring them in at night. Do this for several days before leaving them outdoors all the time.

Some vegetables can be grown in containers. (tomatoes, leafy greens, etc) Find a local garden center (not a hardware store) and ask questions. Those folks know the area, what will grow best, and can give you options for growing in containers.

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Everything @LadyShelley said.

Herbs in pots are a great way to start, and one of the most cost-effective things you can grow, compared to the price of dried herbs from a grocery store. Some herbs are frost-hardy perennials (including oregano, lavender and thyme), but basil REALLY hates the cold, so definitely keep it inside until the temperature won’t get below about 45. Some others, like rosemary, could be either an annual or a perennial depending on your USDA climate zone. Where I grow in Ohio, most rosemary dies over the winter unless you bring it inside, but when I lived in Georgia, it would grow all year into huge bushes.

It’s easier to grow plants from healthy starts from a garden center, but quite a bit cheaper to plant seeds. Most herbs will do OK planted from seeds.

One warning about mint: It’s notorious for spreading like crazy in gardens. So it’s OK if you have it in a pot, but if you put it in the ground, you might have a terrible time getting rid of it or keeping it contained!

Here are a few plants other than herbs that will work in pots:
Tomatoes (look for determinate or dwarf varieties), peppers, eggplant, strawberries, and leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, arugula, etc.

Plants I generally wouldn’t advise putting into pots (though there are exceptions to most of these):
Carrots, cucumbers, squash, melons, pumpkins, beans and peas.

Let me know if you have questions about any particular kind of plant; if I’ve tried to grow it before, I’ll tell you whatever I’ve learned about it.

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Okay, getting ready for spring!

I am once again going to try to grow a tomato in a pot.

Hopefully that’s a large enough pot!

My plan is ti buy a plant already growing from the garden center closer to Mother’s Day, and go from there.

My soil is awful (clay and even after years of trying to amend the garden patch with peat, it’s still garbage soil, so pots it is)

I’m also trying one of these:

An indoor herb garden. It was set up this afternoon, so I will keep folks posted on progress.

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I’ve heard of those Aerogardens … is the idea to get the plants going there and then pot them up into something larger? Except for the thyme, I’d expect all of those herbs to outgrow that space after a couple of months. Sage in particular gets … kind of huge (though it takes a while to get there). Although maybe they have selected more compact varieties.

I’m in the nervous phase of early spring … lots of things have been planted, seeds started in trays and in the beds, but still waiting for things to sprout or to get past the baby leaf stage. I should feel better in a couple of weeks, when I’m past the “What if nothing grows this year?” complex.

The idea is you can grow them in that system. The light telescopes up as the plants grow and it’s basically a hydroponic garden. I’ll have to see how it goes, I’ve never tried something like this before. I’d think once the plant is established it can be repotted into something else. I’ll let you know!

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Ooo! Hubs tried one of these. We got some great herbs with it, with little effort. But he didn’t keep up with it and everything died. But i did get some nice herbs for my last batch of homemade pasta sauce!

Kinda neat that it circulates the water and has a light timer on it. Just add water!

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Currently have dill and basil in ours. The pepper and the cherry tomato in the pots were also started in the aerogarden.

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Oh yay! Proof these work.

We basically live on caprese in the summer, so if I can grow the tomatoes and the basil no grocery shopping!

Okay yes there will still be grocery shopping

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Planted some tomato, acorn squash, and pepper seeds (in Bonnie pots I reuse) in February…

When nothing had sprouted by mid March bit the bullet and grabbed 9 poblano pepper plants, 2 jalapeño plants, 2 Anaheim, 2 Serrano , 2 Santa Fe Grande, and 8 assorted sweet pepper plants.

The next week the seeds sprouted. :+1:

So, will probably have ~15 poblano plants and 14 sweet pepper plants, along with the acorn squash and tomato plants.




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Seems like every year I forget that the germination times on seed packets are based on ideal temperatures for germination, and when the soil is colder, germination takes longer. So I start getting panicky that nothing is going to germinate and wondering when I should try again. And then those sprouts start coming up, and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

Sounds like you should have quite the crop of peppers this year!

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Didn’t have any packets. These are all seeds left over from what I’ve picked previous years? So was really flying blind.

Thought that they had sprouted faster in previous years?

Added some dates to my calendar for next year.

(Tomato seeds are actually left over from some nice Campari from the store)

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Greetings from Ohio, where things are a bit damp.

If you look closely, you can see the line of debris on the top row of cinderblocks, which means my whole strawberry bed must have been underwater at some point overnight.

And more storms are on the way this evening …

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