We used to have a fairly large backyard garden, but then the trees grew, blocking out the sun for most of the day, and forcing us to abandoning the vegetable patch.

We now have two containers on our front deck, which we plant each year with our favourite veggies – tomatoes, peas, beans, carrots, beets and whatever extra vegetable catches our fancy. Last year, my eight year old, who has his own mini container garden, planted watermelon and actually produced several half-decent ones. Funny story: I told him not to bother with watermelon because it never grows. Apparently watermelon thrives on neglect.

While our containers are lovely, we do miss the amount of produce we harvested from our full-sized garden. So when DK Books offered me the opportunity to check out Grow Vegetables In Pots – Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs – I jumped at it.

There are tons of ideas and possibilities in this book including growing tender fruit and apple trees in pots and potatoes in a trash can (which would also be a great idea for carrots seeing how even our container, which is about a foot deep, often yields stumpy carrots). I see strawberries in hanging pots (this avoids rot as the berries do not touch the soil) and dwarf raspberry plants in my future. I never thought of doing pumpkins in a pot, but I now plan to plant the white ones I keep looking at.

There is plenty of information, and pictures, in this book including sowing seeds or planting plants directly into a container; caring for the plants, and the container itself; pruning various types of bushes; and a double page spread of various fruit, vegetables and herbs you can plant in pots, instructions on how to do so, what types of conditions the plant requires, tips as well as the varieties of tomatoes, for example, that would good for a container.

There is an excellent chapter titled Problem Solver, which offers helpful tips on how to keep pests at bay (including wrapping a strip of copper tape around containers to ward off slugs; gives them a harmless electric shock) and a listing of likely pests (including some disgusting pictures) and tips on how to stop or get rid of them.

The May 2-4, or the unofficial first long weekend of summer, is the time most gardeners in Ontario can start planting, and thinking about summer’s harvest. Bring out the containers.

Note, another great DK Book for those with small gardens is DK Books Grow All You Can Eat In Three Square Feet.

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