I don’t claim to be a green thumb by any means. We didn’t do much in the way of gardening as kids but I have always had a deep appreciation for Farmer’s Markets and locally grown groceries, coming from a small town.

In the last few years I’ve made meager attempts at container gardening. Since I am still in a shared building (vs. single family home), there isn’t much in the way of a yard. Said small attempts have progressively been more successful with each year. Last year I grew herbs (that died pretty quickly) and jalapenos that actually produced enough to make 3 small jars of pepper jelly. Hooray!

Each year, I’m trying to add to my modest garden. This year I’ve got a lonely basil plant that is thriving and plan to expand my food production to tomatoes and jalapenos in the hopes that I’ll have enough tomatoes for some homemade ketchup, tomato sauce and pepper jelly. Finger’s crossed!

Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail

Clarkson Potter/Random House

But enough about me. The book, Grow Great Grub, is very helpful for any level of gardener with only containers with which to work (or a yard!). The author, Gayla Trail’s more recent book, You Grow Girl, was a close second in my book choice, but I was drawn to the canning recipes in GGG.

I attended a lecture that Gayla gave a little while back where I took copious notes about next steps for my container gardening adventures. Whatever your experience level, or space with which to work, you’ll find a lot of helpful information in her beautifully photographed book(s).

Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail. All images by Gayla Trail.

{Photo Credits: Gayla Trail}

Here’s a few basic notes on Gayla’s advice, the rest is up to you!

Growing in containers:
– Bigger (container) is better.
– Drainage holes are essential.
– Use container or potting soil only.
– Avoid soil bags that seem really heavy, they most likely have a lot of fillers.
– Be creative with your containers: Old drawers, garbage cans, baskets, buckets. You name it.

Planting:
– Determinant tomatoes work well in containers since they only grow to a certain size.
– You can mix plants in one container. Rule of thumb: Plant a single fruiting plant with multiple leafy plants (lettuce, herbs, flower, etc.)
– Also grow tall with short when planting in groups. For example, tomatoes with lettuce.
– Mulch your containers. Use a light material like straw. It really helps contain the moisture and reduces amount of waterings.

That’s just a teeny-tiny sample of the great information in this book. My favorite farmer’s market opened last weekend so I’ll be stopping by Saturday to pick up some seedlings.

Now if only this weather would cooperate. Happy gardening!

- Colleen