In some respects, we urban container gardeners have it easier than those of you with lush, never-ending yard gardens.
For example, there are no raccoons, squirrels or deer nibbling away at the plants of my 10th-floor Chicago balcony garden. And I never have the wits scared out of me by slithering soft-bodied invertebrates or slippery gastropods.
Weeds? Unless delivered by way of a seed dropped as one of our feathered friends buzzes overhead, weeds just don’t exist in my world.
But, in order to keep our small verdant spaces looking pristine throughout a long summer, even container gardeners have to suffer through deadheading and other routine upkeep necessary to keep the garden at its best.
My work consists of pinching off blossoms that are past their sell-by dates from flowering plants (or deadheading), removing brown or yellow leaves from the various ornamental plants, and clipping away some of the flowers from herbs when they begin to impede the leaf production.
While the deadheads and brown leaves are of no use to me (remember, I have no space for composting), I’m happy to say that some of the flowers produced by herbs — such as the purple blossoms on the Thai basil pictured here — can be incorporated into recipes prepared with those herbs.
The flowers provide an attractive finishing touch that gives dishes a little something extra. (I’ll share a recipe using basil flowers before the summer is over.)
One veteran gardener friend of mine advises removing some of the flowers from tomato plants to concentrate the plant’s energy for a heartier crop… I’m contemplating whether or not to follow her dictate on one of my heirloom plants, which has tons of flowers and tomatoes, but none have ripened yet. What do you think?
[For a lesson in deadheading container plants, check out this YouTube video...]