Good Neighbors Blog

From quirky extras that didn’t make it into the magazine to behind the scenes looks into the making of Country – we’ve curated photos and stories we think you’ll enjoy. Won’t you be our neighbor?

10 Best Vegetables for Containers

Best Vegetables for Containers

Best Vegetables for Containers

Lettuce grows really well!

Best Vegetables for Containers

Best Vegetables for Containers

First radish harvest.

Best Vegetables for Containers

Best Vegetables for Containers

The cucumbers are just starting!


    Story and Photos by Laura Bauer

    Growing vegetables in containers is a great option if you have limited space or poor soil. If you are looking to cut down food costs, keep in mind that starting your plants from seed will be much cheaper, although it will take a little longer. Almost all veggies will grow in pots, but some are definitely easier than others.

    Before you start planting, make sure you have high-quality soil – this is very important. (My favorite is Fox Farm’s Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil.) Fertilizer is optional, especially with rich soil, but some plants do better with a little extra nutrition.

    Container size will depend on how much space you have, but bigger is better. Ideally, your pots should be 10 inches wide and 12 inches deep. If your containers will be smaller, don’t worry, your veggies will still produce! Add about an inch of gravel at the bottom to ensure good drainage.

    Veggies appreciate 4-6 hours of full sun per day and plenty of water. If you live in a hot climate, you may have to move your plants into the shade to avoid burning.

    Now that you’ve got the basics down, here are 10 of the best vegetables for containers:

    1. Lettuce

      There are a million varieties, and they all take to pots extremely well. Lettuce has shallow roots, so make sure to keep your greens moist. You can even plant lettuce in with other taller plants to save space. It grows relatively quickly, so you can usually get in at least two crops, depending on where you live. Try several kinds, and enjoy an extra fresh salad!

    2. Peppers

      The queen of the container world. This one is definitely a favorite among gardeners. It’s easy, fun, and tasty. From flowering to harvest, this plant is a colorful addition to your garden and your plate. These do better with a little bigger pot and may need to be staked or caged as they grow. You’ll surely have salsa to die for.

    3. Radishes

      Radishes are one of the best veggies for beginners and children because of their success rate and rapid growth. Their quick growth allows for multiple crops, so experiment with the various types. Make sure to plant your seeds about an inch apart. Taste ranges from zesty to spicy!

    4. Cucumbers

      Cucumbers are always popular. Pick from seedless, burpless, and sizes galore. If you pick a vine variety, we recommend a trellis. This will keep your plants out from under your feet and make it more difficult for critters to reach them. If bush is the way you’ll be going, you can plant several crops for a higher yield.

    5. Carrots

      You may not know that carrots come in a kaleidescope of colors: orange, yellow, white and purple. A looser soil mixture will enable them to grow straight down. The larger the container, the larger your carrots will grow; although a small pot will force you to pick early, young carrots are especially sweet. Most carrots are ready to harvest and munch between 60-75 days.

    6. Green Beans

      You’ve got the choice between a green bean bush or vine. Both work equally as well in pots. As with the cucumbers, a trellis or stake is recommended for green bean vines. Picking the beans before they mature will ensure new flowers. The more beans you pick, the more beans your plant will produce!

    7. Beets

      Picked fresh, they have a sweet taste that’s hard to “beet.” These plants prefer a deeper pot (around 10+ inches). Keep your beet plants about three inches apart to give them room to mature. Keep the soil most and watch them grow! They’re usually ready to enjoy after 50-60 days.

    8. Tomatoes

      Tomatoes are very popular plants to grow, but they do require large containers. Unless you get a small variety, you’ll need a container that is at least five gallons. These guys are a little more sensitive to watering. They like a consistently moist soil, but too much water will cause root rot. Tomato plants also appreciate fertilizer (only if your soil has little nutrients). You will probably need to cage your tomato plants as they grow.

    9. Potatoes

      Red, yellow, purple, or white! Potatoes come in many different sizes and colors. You can grow them from seed or from a potato. Make sure the soil is loose and moist so your potatoes can grow easily. When the leaves of the plant turn yellow, your potatoes are ready to be harvested. Don’t eat unripe, green potatoes; they are poisonous.

    10. Turnips

      Turnips are very easy to grow in containers. You can eat the leaves and the root. Although they need plenty of sun, they grow well in cooler weather. Avoid cabbage root maggots by covering your Turnip plants with a mesh cover in Spring.  Turnips grow quickly and can be harvested 35-60 days after planting.

    Whether or not you decide to plant all ten of these veggies, you’ll have a fantastic harvest come late summer and fall. Happy gardening!

    Family Takes up Farming in Canada

    Farming in Canada

    Farming in Canada

    Adam examines their donkey’s foot.

    Farming in Canada

    Farming in Canada

    Sue leads their ram.

    Farming in Canada

    Farming in Canada

    Cameron checks on his goat.

    Farming in Canada

    Farming in Canada

    Cabbage and squash grow in the vegetable garden.

    Farming in Canada

    Farming in Canada

    Anders collects eggs from the laying hens.

      Story by Sue Segura
      Steinbach, Manitoba

      Photography by Elisabeth Schalla

      Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Farm & Ranch Living is delighted to share excerpts this week from its most recent round of diaries!

      Farming in Canada
      Greetings from the wilderness of Manitoba! Actually, we aren’t quite in the wilderness, but we are a long way from the capital city of Winnipeg. Everyone who comes to visit seems to think we live in the sticks.

      My husband, Adam, and I have two sons, Cameron, 14, and Anders, 8. Both Adam and I grew up city kids, but have always loved the outdoors and animals. When we had kids and the opportunity presented itself, we knew we’d have to start up a little farm of our own.

      Our farm is very small—only 80 acres, about 20 in pasture and the balance in bush. We carved it out of raw bush almost five years ago and are still working toward our long-range vision. The name Ivy Hill Farm is actually Poison Ivy Hill Farm because of the terrible profusion of plants growing on most of our building sites! We are working hard to eradicate them.

      We raise pasture-based, ethical meats from primarily heritage breeds for direct market. We run grass-fed Dexter cattle; a mixed flock of laying hens, including Ameraucanas, Golden Laced Wyandottes, black Australorps and ISA Browns, for free-range eggs; free-range meat chickens that have already come and gone this year; Katahdin and Rideau sheep; Nubian goats; and, every year except the present one, Berkshire and Tamworth pigs. We also have a horse, a guardian donkey, a few dogs and countless cats.

      Our first year here, we reached our goal of raising healthy meat with no antibiotics or implanted hormones. All the meat we eat comes from animals born and raised on our farm. We direct-market beef, pork, lamb, chickens and eggs straight to the customers.

      Our summers are short (typically mid-May to early September), and our winters are notoriously frigid and long, with temps occasionally dipping to 40 below Celsius with the windchill. Our animals need to be hardy as they overwinter outside. We have shelters for them, but no great barns.

      Adam works in Winnipeg and I am the full-time farmer. During the week the kids help out with small chores and on the weekends we all work hard on building projects.

      Friday Funny Photography: Duck-Billed Dog!

      Friday Funny Photography: Duck-Billed Dog!

      Friday Funny Photography: Duck-Billed Dog!

       

      Our Country Friday Funny Photography snapshot for July 25, 2014: Duck-Billed Dog by Elizabeth Reiter of Divide, Colorado. Elizabeth writes, “The day we brought Jessy, our new golden retriever pup, home, we knew she was going to be trouble. She has made us laugh so many times with her antics. As you can see, she has her own idea of what duck shoes are for!”

      Do you have a clever caption for this fun photo? We’d love to hear it!

      Farming in South Dakota and Beyond

      Farming in South Dakota

      Farming in South Dakota

      Eric chases horses across the field in a roundup.

      Farming in South Dakota

      Farming in South Dakota

      Twila Ferguson works her horse that is boarded on the Double H Ranch.

      Farming in South Dakota

      Farming in South Dakota

      Eric teaches Samuel Winz, a workaway guest from Switzerland who is spending two weeks on the ranch.

      Farming in South Dakota

      Farming in South Dakota

      Eric and Heidi teach Samuel how to fish in Rapid Creek, which flows through the property.

      Farming in South Dakota

      Farming in South Dakota

      Bandit the sheep herding dog enjoys riding with Eric as they work with the horses and cattle.

      Farming in South Dakota

      Farming in South Dakota

      Eric Henriksen rakes hay.

        Story by Heidi Henriksen Rapid City, South Dakota
        Photos by Johnny Sundby Photography

        Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Farm & Ranch Living is delighted to share excerpts this week from its most recent round of diaries!

        My husband, Eric, and I welcome you to our three home bases: the Double H Ranch between the Black Hills to the west and the rugged South Dakota Badlands to the east, and our two Iowa properties, 10 hours away in the state’s beautiful northeast.

        Our family began a new chapter 13 years ago when we closed our welding and repair business and left Iowa, where I’d lived for 40 years, and headed west to the area where Eric was born. On the 268-acre Double H Ranch we have a small herd of 20 Black Angus cow-calf pairs. We also raise hay and chickens, and we board about 25 horses. Rapid City is our urban link, within easy reach of the Western life we enjoy here in the hills.

        Our roots are deep in the valleys of Iowa, too, so five years ago Eric built a log house near Clermont, high on a hill surrounded by pine trees. The land is on the state’s River Bluffs Scenic Byway, on the property where generations of my family have lived. It also borders a bike trail and a state historical site: Montauk, home of a 19th-century Iowa governor, William Larrabee.

        Recently we bought Bear Creek Farm near Edgewood. Five creeks run though this 33-acre property, which includes an earth-bermed house that had fallen into disrepair. We’re rebuilding the top floor. Our youngest son, Landon, manages and lives on the farm, where we’re raising calves.

        On top of busy days at our ranch and farm, Eric and I both hold down full-time jobs. He’s a mechanic and parts technician for a John Deere dealership, while I work from my home office as a health-insurance writer and editor. We find the extra income and health benefits necessary to stay ahead, and we’re thankful we have the energy to work on the ranch at our own pace.

        Eric and I also welcome international helpers through Workaway, a program that promotes cultural exchange through working vacations. In return for ranch work, our guests stay in our bunkhouse and eat meals with us. It’s a great arrangement that gets us part-time help and lets our guests enjoy this scenic area while learning about the ranching way of life.

        The family is where I find my greatest joys in life. I work very hard at staying connected with my children, even though we’re separated by 600 miles. In addition to Landon, who’s engaged to Kelly, our children are Lucas, Mary, Lynzee and Drew. Our granddaughters are Thelma and Ellie.

        We believe living in the country and being self-sufficient is the best life there is.

        July 23, 2014: Today’s Words to Live By

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