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Container Gardens at Phipps

June 4, 2010

Over the Memorial Day weekend, an assortment of vegetables and herbs were planted in containers at the Phipps’ Discovery Garden.  We planted a salsa container, a “Two Sisters” container, and two containers of tomatoes and basil.  These containers are wonderful examples of companion planting. 

The salsa container is planted with one large tomato in the center surrounded by pepper, basil and cilantro plants.  Not only are all of these vegetables and herbs great in salsa, they also act as companions to each other.  This means that the plants benefit from growing close to each other.  Basil is said to improve the flavor of tomatoes while its scent deters many pest insects.  In addition, both basil and peppers do well when they are grown with tomatoes.    

Edible Container Gardens at the Discovery Garden at Phipps

The Two Sisters container garden is a variation of the Native American Three Sisters Garden, which traditionally grew the companion plants: corn, beans and squash.  The Phipps Two Sisters garden contains corn and cucumbers.  Corn planted at the center of the container will grow straight and tall providing a support for the cucumbers.  It is then surrounded by cucumbers, a member of the squash family.  The cucumbers will vine up and around the corn; its large leaves covering the soil and acting as living mulch to shade out weeds. 

The remaining containers are planted with the companions, tomato and basil.  The large tomato plant was placed in the center with basil growing on the outer edge of the container.  One container is also planted with nasturtiums.  Nasturtiums have edible leaves and flowers; their spicy flavor makes them a great addition to summer salads.  Nasturtiums are great companions to many plants as they are said to be one of the most effective plants at attracting beneficial bugs such as predatory insects.  These predatory insects will then feed on any pest insects that visit the containers.  In addition, the scent of the nasturtiums works just like the pungent aroma of basil to deter pest insects.  Both of these are great plants for the garden. 

The containers that we used were quite large, 32 gallon containers with a diameter of 22 inches and a height of 18 inches.  Large containers will hold a greater variety of vegetables and herbs, the smaller your container the less variety you will be able to plant.   When designing your own container garden, keep in mind that it’s important to match your container with the size of the plant(s) you wish to grow.  Click here for more information on recommended container size.

Other tips for container gardening can be found here.  Or watch our garden container garden grow by visiting regularly to view updated images.

Companion Planting

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