I know, Garfield Park Conservatory is outside the Southeastern US, but the ideas offered in the garden in Chicago transfer to Georgia easily. I visited there this past week and brought back pictures to share.
Crops in containers
Containers for garden crops were enormous, and this is probably for the best. Smaller containers heat up faster on sunny summer days, and roots are in danger of overheating as a result. With larger containers, roots are more protected. The soil may also dry out more slowly in a huge container, since there is so much of it.
Different structures supported plants throughout the garden. In containers, plants like eggplants and peppers need support just to keep from falling out of the pots as their fruits get large and heavy.
For smaller plants, like some of the peppers, supports were slender bamboo canes pushed into the soil around the plants. This can be enough to keep them from falling over.
For tall, heavy plants, like some of the eggplants, four bamboo poles (sturdy ones) were set firmly into the soil near the edges of the pots. Then heavy twine tied those all together, to hold up the plants.
For tomato plants, which can become very heavy, twine is insufficient to hold up the crop. Tomatoes in containers had four bamboo poles stuck into the pots like for the eggplants, but instead of twine, metal fencing (field knot fencing, I think) with a wide mesh was wrapped around the poles to create a tomato cage.
Trellises for vining crops
One in-ground trellis in the garden was built from wood. The wood pieces were wide enough that squashes could be set on the slats, like shelving. This is a brilliant way to protect developing crops like squash and melons from soil-borne funguses, like Southern blight, that could rot the fruits!
Cucumbers were vining up some of the same metal fencing that supported the tomatoes, but the cucumbers were planted in the ground, not in containers.
Other small garden ideas from the park
Smaller varieties of some crops were being grown, like ‘Burgundy’ okra, which is both beautiful and shorter. I grow ‘Cajun Jewel’, which is also short, in my small garden, but it doesn’t have the amazing red stems that ‘Burgundy’ has.
The demonstration garden also showed an alteration of one raised bed, with a little ground-level area created at one end. Strawberries were growing in that space. Since they are a shallow-rooted crop, strawberries don’t always need to be in a deep, raised bed. A picture is in the photo-collage above. It looks like a wading pool for toddlers built next to the big-people pool.
Meanwhile, in my own garden
This is my weekend to start some fall crops. For me, the first will be carrots and winter radishes. If you are in the Southeastern US and are not sure what to plant or when to plant it, there is a book (!) available that can help.
If you already know, but have just one or two questions, please feel welcome to use the contact page to send me an email. I would be happy to help.