Container Planting On 10 Acres

Reader Contribution by Maggie Bonham

You’d think that if you have some 10 acres you’d have a wonderful fields full of fresh vegetables and fruits. You’d think you’d have a simple way to create an awesome garden. And if you live where I live, you’d be wrong.

Oh sure, there are lots of people with gardens here in Montana. And the city I live near is aptly named “the Garden City,” which is why I even tried to put in great gardens every year.

They don’t do so hot. Why? Because I live on the side of a mountain where everything is rock. Even when I bring dirt in, the results are mediocre. But I want a garden because one cannot live on goat’s milk, cheese, and meat alone. Oh, I suppose I could, but it would get difficult.

Growing In Containers

Part of the problem is that we’re more than 400 feet up from the valley floors. And at this latitude, that means something. We become a Zone 3 or 4 in the winter, making our growing seasons short and makes things like tomatoes and basil scream for hotter days. I’ve planted things like eggplant and tomatoes in my garden and haven’t seen anything good with them. Put them in a container on my porch and they’re happy and producing.

So, I’ve broken down and given up. I’m putting my peppers, eggplant, and herbs in the containers and planning on creating a pallet garden for the lettuce and other plants. I may, however, plant potatoes in the garden just to have them.

Pros to Having a Container Garden

Obviously if you’re short on space or short on arable land a container garden may make the difference between having a garden and having a bunch of weeds. You can do square foot gardening easily with containers, and you have your garden up and ready to go in no time. The big plus is that the garden can be where you want it to be. Not where your land dictates. For example, I can have vegetables and herbs on your deck where I see them every day and can water them. And I can keep Sid the llama, my lawn care specialist, away from those plants.

After Memorial Day

Here in northwestern Montana we pretty much plant after Memorial Day. Even that isn’t a surefire thing, because we have gotten frosts and even snowfalls in June. But it’s better than trying to guess. My first year here I made the mistake of planting in mid-May. That was a bit of a disaster and I ended up having to buy more plants. The other mistake I made was buying plants from big box stores. They never do as well as locally grown plants and you never get the varieties that local farmers produce. It seems that yes, the local greenhouses offer varieties that the big box stores don’t have. What’s more is that many are organic. A huge plus in my book.

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