Hanging baskets don’t have the best reputation. They can sometimes be considered naff with their garish trails of bright flowers that sometimes look like they have been thrown together (don’t get me started on their fake counterparts) but you don’t have to plant your hanging baskets with pansies and fuchsias; All of the baskets in our back garden contain either fruit or vegetables. Planting fruit and vegetables in hanging baskets can be a great way of growing-your-own in limited space.
Strawberries – We’ve planted many varieties over the years and all have worked well apart from the white alpine strawberries we tried last year. The advantages of growing strawberries in hanging baskets is that they are not as accessible to pests (apart from birds) and because they are hanging the you don’t get the problem of the strawberries going soggy on the ground. To help protect the strawberries from birds cover the plants in netting.
Pea shoots – Last year discovered this gem and I have Alys Fowler to thank. You don’t need fancy peas from the garden centre. Plain and simple Bigga dried peas from the supermarket will work just as well. You simply sprinkle the peas over the soil and cover with a thin layer of soil and keep watered.You are able to grow them in baskets as you are literally harvesting the plants for their leaves rather than the peas. You can however transplant the plants once they have grown too much for the basket and grow in to fully fledged pea plants.
Salad leaves – Perfect as they are literally cut and come again. I prefer to use packets of mixed salad leaves for variety. Growing salad leaves is far easier than buying packets from the shops as in our case we struggle to get through a packet of ready prepped salad before it goes off.
Herbs – Most herbs that don’t grow too tall like mint and thyme work well in hanging baskets.
When growing in hanging baskets make sure the basket is well drained but also don’t get waterlogged. We usually line our basket frames with a husk/moss layer (watch the birds pick this out during the nesting season) then a thin plastic layer with a few holes to allow the water the drain through. Also balance the baskets on a bucket to stop them rolling around while trying to fill them with the compost.
Have you tried growing anything unusual in hanging baskets?
Finally the frosts have gone, well I hope they have, and the garden is beginning to spring into life. The biggest success so far has to be the pea shoots. After seeing Alys Fowler plant them on Edible Garden I knew I had to have a go. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of planting bog standard dried peas before. The gorgeous emerald butterfly shaped leaves have now become a regular in our salads as they taste so delicious.
It’s great to see my herb garden thrive after thinking the long winter may have killed it off. The reliable hardy mint is coming back with vengeance along with the thyme and oregano. New additions in the herb garden are flat parsley and borage plus the rosemary and chives are beginning to bear flowers. The flowers on the rosemary are so beautiful and delicate almost like mini orchids, a bonus that they are edible and will probably adorn a salad at the BBQ later on this evening. The chive flowers are also edible however I find the taste of them a tad bit intense. After eating a lonely chive flower last year the best way I can describe the taste is of strong onion water bursting in your mouth.
This year is going to be the battle of the birds and butterflies. As much as we like having wildlife in our garden it’s a pain when the nibble and trample they crops so Hubs fashioned an ingenious frame made from an old wooden clothes airer that had originally been thrown in the wood pile for burning. The trio of dunnocks are not impressed. Given they are meant to be shy birds they have spent a significant time bouncing up and down on it, trying to break it and once working out how to get underneath the netting. The netting is doing its job though and everything growing under it is doing well.
Newest addition to the garden, Hubs’ newest project, will be appearing in the next few weeks – a cold smoker that also doubles up as tandoor oven made of terracotta pots. Yep you heard that right. Some days I worry for the sanity of Hubs.