Good News for Urban Gardeners

This spring, limited real estate shouldn’t limit your garden aspirations. The Orlando Sentinel predicts that vegetable gardening in containers is on the rise:

Many of the nation’s leading nurseries are predicting big profits in 2008 by developing plants and vegetables for containers and space-deprived urban gardeners. … ‘Container gardens filled with red and green lettuces or a container that holds yellow tomatoes, purple basil and red peppers can be just as beautiful as a pot of flowers and much more delicious,’ said Kathy LaLiberte, director of gardening for Gardener’s Supply Co., in Burlington, Vt.

According to the Sentinel, popular plants for summer ’08 include trailing tomatoes that can be grown in 12-inch pots, miniature bell peppers, and tennis ball–size heads of iceberg lettuce—which could make an awfully cute little iceberg wedge salad.

The Food Section has more good news for those of us with big gardening plans but only small sunny spaces. It recommends the Food Map Container, a planter on wheels, which is partially made from postindustrial recycled materials—and can easily be pushed around to follow the sun as it moves across the patio (or pushed out of the way to make room for backyard parties).

Regardless of how much space you’ve got, the Los Angeles Times suggests growing vegetables and herbs that you won’t find at the market, such as sweet Yellow Wonder alpine strawberries, “smoky and fruity” Cuban Seasoning peppers from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and a hard-to-find Italian herb called mentuccia.

[Many] recipes suggest mint or parsley, because mentuccia hasn’t been available, but once you taste the real thing—rich, subtle, almost buttery—you won’t be able to imagine a substitute. It has a marvelous affinity for mushrooms, artichokes and fish. Sal Marino, chef-owner of Il Grano restaurant in West L.A., also suggests strewing mentuccia across a frittata.

Meanwhile, over at the Epi-Log, readers are weighing in on the staples of their vegetable gardens, from garlic chives to French breakfast radishes, and beets, which are not only delicious but also “super easy to grow.”