Sustainabaility: Container gardening

It is hard for me to believe I have been to three local nurseries in the past couple of days, and I went willingly.

In the past, when I have tagged along with my talented plant-growing friends, trips to garden shops were feats of patience and endurance.

I actually had a lot of fun shopping for the starter plants and two varieties of seed I bought to start my tabletop square foot garden.

My husband, Jim, drilled holes in the first pair of drawers I brought home, then I read master gardener Laurie Reiser’s instructions more carefully and promptly hit the streets again to scavenge for deeper drawers.

My Spring Clean Up foraging efforts paid off to the tune of a dozen old wooden drawers, more than I can accommodate on my lone card table.

I have a special “thank you” shout-out for the family on Grand Avenue who put several old desks on their curb.

I took all 10 of the deeper drawers and will be putting them to good use. They are 8 inches wide, 15 inches long and 6–7 inches deep.

According the container growing handout, my drawers are on the small side and may limit what I can grow, but I am already attached to them and very stubborn.

Included in the handout is a list of useful websites for container gardening. If you want a copy of the handout, contact Reiser through the Colorado State University Extension Office or send her an e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

My chives, winter savory, Genovese basil, Simpson Elite lettuce, arugula, baby bok choy and strawberries will all grow fine with soil depths of 4–7 inches.

It might be a little dicey for my Swiss chard, broccoli raab rapini, ancho and sweet banana peppers, Italian parsley, cilantro and rosemary, which prefer soil depths of 8–9 inches.

A splash of color will be provided courtesy of a Caesar’s Brother Iris with its dark blue hues. I am still looking for the perfect miniature rose in a 4-inch carton to replant in a lovely blue-glazed pot all its own.

My first nursery stop was Chelsea Nursery, 3447 G Road in Clifton, a thriving business at that location since 1994. Stacey Stecher and Tony Urscchitz run the operation that specializes in xeric and native plants.

Stacey is a Mesa State College grad, with a botany degree and an expert in Colorado native plants. Tony is in charge of growing all the lush plants available at the nursery.

On Earth Day, the couple received the 2010 Excellence in Sustainable Horticulture Award from the Western Colorado Gardening Foundation.

Chelsea Nursery does not sell many edible plants, but with Urscchitz’s knowledgeable guidance I was able to pick up five beautiful starters. Go to or call 434-8434 for more information.

Following Urscchitz’s recommendation, my next stop was Mt. Garfield Greenhouse & Nursery, 3162 F Road.

Guido Pesci assisted me in purchasing a number of starters: the broccoli raab seeds, a hefty watering can and two nifty, inexpensive hanging baskets lined with natural coco fiber for the cherry tomatoes from Laurie.

Baby bok choy must be pretty popular because I had to call all over town to find seeds. I do love to eat them, so I made the extra effort for a special trip to Valley Grown, 680 24 1/2 Road.

This weekend my husband will oversee the process of filling my drawers (pun intended) with “Mel’s Square Foot Garden” soil mix, which is equal parts of blended compost, peat moss and coarse vermiculite.

After the drawers are prepared the planting will begin.

It is still difficult to fathom how excited I am at the prospect of getting this table-sized garden started.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress with updates in future columns. Wish me luck, I may need it!

Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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