After gardening for half a year, I have a more hands-on understanding of what can be grown and what still seems to lead into failures.
In terms of crops, tomatoes, lettuce, rocket salad, and radishes have been very successful. We no longer spend any money on those or any time on picking them up from the store. We just pick the required number of tomatoes or strip the required number of leaves from the lettuce plants. This works much better than buying the vegetables and then having to eat them all before they turn soft. Freedom of choice!
Furthermore, carrots have been a disaster. I suspect this is because some bug eats the seedlings. In other words, they’re a waste of good container space.
I can grow beets but they’re very short beets. Spacing doesn’t seem to matter. In the future I just may grow more radishes. The one fail-safe crop.
Swiss chard and broccoli looks promising, but they seem to be slow moving. I also planted some spinach but waiting 60 days for a harvest that’s used in one meal seems like an extravagant use of space.
A few months ago, many of my fast growing plants started suffering from nitrogen deficiency. This was fixed by mixing some blood meal into the top layer. It worked!
My squash has suffered from bloom rot. This is a calcium deficiency problem which is due to overwatering. The nitrogen deficiency may also have been overwatering. It is hard to water just correctly when it’s 90F+ outside.
In general, I’ve been going with a cannonball staggering according to the plant spacing on the seed packet, i.e. 1″, 2″, 4″, 6″, … I find that squash plants require more space than the packet says when grown in a container. Consequentially, my squash plants are way too close together leading to the aforementioned nitrogen and calcium problems—they simply suck too much nutrient and water and I can’t supply it fast enough.
The next thing to find out is to see what can be grown over winter. I need to get some cold-tolerant plants to seedling before it gets too cold to germinate the seeds. I’m thinking swiss chard, kale, and spinach.
It’s hard to tell whether this is actually saving money (it should in theory) or whether we’re just eating more vegetables because it’s so convenient to pick it from the containers compared to taking it out of wet plastic bags from the fridge. In either case, gardening has been worthwhile for us.
As a side-effect, we have attracted a lot of flying insects including a resident dragonfly, named Bob, who hangs out in our garden and zips around chasing other insects. He’s fun to watch. I’ve also seen a praying mantis out there. Never had any of these creatures when we only had a lawn out there.