Fill colorful containers with edibles

By Pam Roy | Apr 25, 2012
Courtesy of: Pam Roy Try growing a container with purpose-edibles this spring. Above, as an example, is a bean basin.


Want to grow edibles? If you feel limited by terrible soil, not enough space in the garden, or having the sunniest spot in the yard being the patio or deck, containers may be the solution!

Containers add interest and color to a patio or deck or entry. Sure, they can be filled every year with annuals pretty to look at – or they can be filled with a variety of colorful edibles that offer interesting textures, colorful foliage AND provide delicious produce.

Group a few containers outside the kitchen door where they will be handy for a quick snip of a few fresh herbs, a handful of salad greens or a quick pluck of a few crisp snap peas.

Containers offer several beneficial growing conditions. The soil heats up from sun on the outside of the container, which enhances plant growth. The roots of the vegetables are up out of any drainage problems in the yard.

Little weeding needs to be done with containers and we get a reprieve from bending over to tend the garden. Watering is made easy with the installation of drip irrigation on a timer.

Containers can be grouped to form garden rooms or set as transition points in the garden. Imagine strolling down the path and stopping here and there to munch on a fresh green bean, or a sweet cherry tomato.

For central focal points of the containers, plant tall, statuesque vegetables with interesting texture or color. Dinosaur kale has large, roughly textured leaves. Lacinato Kale has finely textured leaves. The bright foliage of Swiss chard ‘Rainbow’ makes a colorful centerpiece to a container. Royal Burgundy Bush Beans makes a striking focal point.

Surround the focal plant with colorful lettuce such as ‘Flashy Troutsback’ an amazing dark green romaine lettuce with splashes of wine red speckles, ‘Little Leprechaun Lettuce,’ a compact grower with leaves in radiant shades of mahogany red and olive green, or red leaf lettuce, or a dwarf lettuce like ‘Tom Thumb.’

The reddish purple foliage of radicchio contrasts nicely with a green or blue green centerpiece. Baby Pac Choi also adds a splash of color. Beets ‘Bull’s Red’ is a real conversation starter.

Soften the edges of containers with trailing edibles. Herbs such as Golden Oregano and marjoram spill over the sides year round. Lemon thyme adds a citrus like fragrance to a pot. Add color with edible flowers such as nasturtiums or edible violets.

Let a trailing tomato, such as ‘Tumbler,’ do just that and enjoy a bounty of tiny tomatoes tumbling over the pot’s edge.

Add drama with a really big container, planting artichokes or purple orach as the centerpiece. Surround this with chives or basil and trail thyme over the edges.

Growing edibles can be easy and fun. Learn more about colorful edibles in containers in my class offered by Edmonds Community College ArtsNow uLearn program Monday, April 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Advance signup required through their website or call 425-640-1243.

Pam Roy, owner of Planscapes, has been a landscape designer and horticulturist for 30 years in the Northwest. Contact her at 425-252-9469 or

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