How to create a container garden in Houston this fall

Learn how to grow vegetables in a limited space

HOUSTON – If you enjoy a good salad, there's nothing tastier than fresh veggies and herbs straight from your garden. But if you space is limited, Corey McMullen, with Urban Organics Gardens, shares how easy it is to grow your favorite leafy greens in a smaller area, like a sunny porch, balcony or even a window sill.

The technique is called salad bowl gardening.

"Salad bowl it's just a small container. It's a cute name for an easy way to make a salad, or to grow your own salad actually. And it's a great way for people to get started, test their green thumb out and see if it's something that they want to expand building a real garden," said McMullen, who recommends beginners to start with veggies to get acclimate it with gardening because it's fast.

"Lettuce and radishes and all those types of things they all mature pretty quickly, within 30 days to two-and-a-half months at the most," he said.

If you are wondering what plants to include in a garden container, McMullen mentioned young lettuce, mizuna, spinach, tatsoi, arugula, Swiss chard, radish, spicy red mustard and baby kale mixes are great options.

"You can also add flavorful herbs like dill, cilantro, onion and garlic chives or parsley plants for additional flavor. And You can even include edible flowers like pansies or violas, which have a mild, sweet flavor," he said.

This is what you'll need for salad bowl gardening.

1. Wide, shallow pot or container


"Minimum 6 inches in depth, 6 to 8 inches is fine, with at least one drain hole," McMullen said.

2.  Good potting soil


"Avoid blends with large pieces of bark as they drain too quickly, and the soil will dry out faster. You can try My Bohemian potting mix from The Ground Up here in Houston. It holds water, but it doesn't let water run through quickly where it' going to dry up in our temperatures," McMullen said.

3. Plants


"You can plant a mix of seedlings and seeds to get a good variety and ensure you can harvest for a while from one container. If you use seeds, sprinkle them around the pot," according to McMullen.

4. Fertilizer


"Lettuce and other greens like fertilizers that are high in nitrogen.  When you are mixing the soil, you want to use two types of fertilizer.  You can use a liquid fertilizer to spray the leaves, and a granular fertilizer to mix into the soil at planting," McMullen said.

5.  Sunlight


"Put them in a spot that receives six or more hours of sunlight each day. Your patio your front porch, anything that's bright and sunny," McMullen said.

Once you've got everything planted, water the container well to saturate the soil and set it in your sunny spot.

Your seedlings will be ready to start trimming leaves off for salads in three to four weeks and radishes will be ready to pull in about five to six weeks. Your salad bowl will be full in about five to six weeks. Repeat as often as you like through early March.

Instructions provided by Corey McMullen.