Harvest Monday, August 11, 2014 – Windowbox Gardening

This past week was a bountiful one.

Early in the week: harvested Swiss chard, beets, red & green mustard, sweet potato leaves, romaine garnet rose lettuce and cherry tomatoes.

Later in the week: harvested more chard, SP leaves, lettuce, Chinese chives, chive flowers and the last kohlrabi.

Did not take any photos as I gave away most of the harvest.

◊ ◊ ◊

Today I am focusing on window boxes. Needed to know what else will grow well in my 29 inch x 8 inch window boxes.

These are the same boxes I used the previous year. Can I, should I, reuse the potting mix?  Hate to dump out the old potting mix and put in new mix as the mix I use is pricey ($34.99 for 3.8 cubic feet). Decided to reuse (I am cheap).

Before planting the seedlings I did, however, enriched the old mix with organic granular fertilizer and composted cow manure.

Below are photos of this year’s window boxes experiment and the results.

Swiss chard (06473)Swiss Chard
These are the same chard I planted in April (see 4/14/14 post) and have harvested many times

Swiss chard (06477)

Swiss chard
Harvested about ¾ pound from the window box on July 16, 2014

Swiss chard (06474)

Swiss Chard Stubs
Removed all the stalks/leaves except the small leaves in the center
(photo taken July 16, 2014)
Fertilized with fish emulsion fertilizer after harvesting

Was going to pull up all 6 plants (I needed the box to plant fall spinach), but my inquiring mind wanted to know what if I remove all the stalks/leaves except the small ones in the center will I get a harvest? How long will it take?

Since the Swiss chards in the garden are doing very well (so well I have been giving away to friends and neighbor) decided to experiment. If the experiment fail I still have chards to harvest from the garden.

The photo below is the result.

Swiss chard (06616)Swiss Chard (photo taken 8/8/14)
Took 3 weeks & 2 days for the stubs to grow to this size
There are 6 plants in the box, a bit crowded, 5 would be better

In the above photo, look at the 3rd from right chard, do you see the side shoots sprouting from the base? What would happen if I cut away all the stalks/leaves just above the side shoots? That is just what I did yesterday (below photos). I also harvested most of the stalks/leaves from the other plants so these side shoots will have room and sunlight to grow.

Swiss chard (06625)Swiss chard (06626)

Will the side shoots grow at a faster rate and have good size stalks/leaves? Update coming in a future post.

P.S. Have I bored you to death so far with my Swiss chard? You are probably thinking: OK Norma, get a life, that’s an overkill.

Anyhow, the remainder of the post goes very quickly, promise.

◊ ◊ ◊

callaloo (green amaranth) (06583)

Callaloo (Amaranth)
Harvested the main shoot (8 – 10 inch) got about ½ pound
Left some of the side shoots to continue to grow

callaloo (green amaranth) (06596)Also harvested ½ pound red amaranth (from the garden). Was going to make a soup combining the 2, but since the leaves and stems were very tender decided to do a stir-fry (like spinach) instead.

No photo. Delicious, but was not a good looking dish.

Right photo: red amaranth & callaloo.

callaloo (green amaranth) (06592)

Callaloo  (amaranth) after harvesting main stems
Side shoots will continue to grow and ready for harvest in a few days
Fertilized with fish emulsion fertilizer after harvesting

Did not know how well callaloo would do in the box so put in 10 plants, too many. Next year I will plant only 6

◊ ◊ ◊

kohlrabi (06615)

Kohlrabi, Purple
The large ones are about 2½ inches in diameter
Next season I will put 6 plants in the box instead of 5

◊ ◊ ◊

napa cabbage (06617)

Napa Cabbage
Only 3 plants in the box, just the right number
The one in the middle & the one on the right are starting to form heads

◊ ◊ ◊

romaine garnet rose (06587)

Lettuce, Romaine Garnet Rose
There are 6 plants in the box, just the right number
Easy to grow and very pretty

romaine garnet rose lettuce (06624)

Harvest all the lettuce but left the stumps (1-2 inches) to see what will happen

◊ ◊ ◊

CONCLUSION: Many veggies will grow well in window boxes. The secret is not to overcrowd. More frequent watering and fertilizing are needed (I feed with fish emulsion fertilizer at ½ strength once a week). I also find there are less diseases and insects control is easier.

If you are lacking garden space or suitable growing conditions or have difficulty kneeling and bending, window box or container gardening is your answer. I will do a post about my larger containers, including my foam ice chest, at a later date.

◊ ◊ ◊

For the record, this is my 250 posts.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

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About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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43 Responses to Harvest Monday, August 11, 2014 – Windowbox Gardening

  1. I too would battle just throwing soil away Norma. I thoroughly enjoy your weekly harvest posts and well done on your 250th post!
    Have a super week ahead. :-) Mandy xo

  2. Great information on container growing Norma! I grow a lot of things in containers and I too hate throwing away the potting soil. I sometimes remove half the old soil, put it on the compost pile, then fill the container with new soil. That way I save half at least.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Dave,
      Thanks. I thought about you when I was writing this post as I was remembering your beautiful container eggplants and wondered if you reused your old soil. Good idea with the half old and half new soil, next year.

  3. dvelten says:

    If you are using a soil-less planting mix, you should be able to re-use, just add some fertilizer as you did. At first I thought you were talking about growing these indoors and thought you were really brave using fish fertilizer and cow manure in the boxes. I would get some complaints from the other residents. Congrats on 250 posts.

  4. wow, never seen any purple Kohlrabi and romaine lettuce before, georgeous garden!!!

  5. echolulu says:

    Hello Norma, thank you for sharing your gardening knowledge and experiments in all your 250 wonderful posts. I have enjoyed reading and learning from them. To many more great posts to come!

  6. Karen says:

    You sound be called the scientific gardener with all your experiments. The window boxes are great for those that want to garden but don’t have a lot of space. I know these posts will convince more people to try growing some of their veggies.

  7. Margaret says:

    I never would have thought to grow such a varied array of veg in window boxes – my parents live in a condo so this would be perfect for them – I must grow some seedlings for them next year. And I am ALL for experimenting in the garden so I just love your Swiss chard experiments. Congrats on 250 – That is quite the milestone!!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Margaret,
      Thanks. Before your parents moved to a condo were they gardeners? I am sure they will enjoy window box/container gardening and appreciate getting seedlings from you.

  8. daphnegould says:

    I so love experiments. I wonder if you chard would do better if you left one large leaf on instead of cutting it all back. it is what I do when I harvest chard most of the time. One full sized leaf and any that haven’t reached size yet. But I don’t know if it gets the best production out of the plant. Part of me wants to try cutting off all the full sized leaves and part wants to leave a couple and see how the plant responds to those. But I really don’t have a large enough plot for my answer to be meaningful probably.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Daphne,
      I usually leave a few full size chard leaves and would get a harvest in a week or 2. I cut those back because I needed the box for my spinach but my inquiring mind won and now I am without a box for my spinach.

  9. Sophie33 says:

    Well done you! You did great & so did the veggies!

  10. Your swiss chard looks so vibrant and healthy! The window boxes worked perfectly. I woukd like to expand my garden using this same method.

  11. Love those beautiful purple kohlrabi! I grow only lettuce in my window boxes..didn’t know they work so well with cabbages too.

  12. mac says:

    Your window box garden is very inspiring, I use containers as well mostly for carrots, daikons, peppers, and fast growing Asian greens.

  13. Barbie says:

    I love your experiments. It always gets me thinking. My lettuce normally comes back from nubs very quickly – I bet yours does, too!

  14. Eva Taylor says:

    Congratulations on your 250th post! You never bore me with your garden photos, I’m just so envious of your exceptional green thumb, mine is but a sliver of a shade of green I’ve never heard of! Figgy dropped all but two of the figs, I guess I should have watered more often. I’m on the lookout for a large container so I can water and leave for the weekend when we go to the cottage. My container garlic is growing well even though I only planted them this spring (the winter killed off everything from the fall).
    I thought we had lost a large lilac and our lovely holy bush so I cut them right back to about 20″ from the ground and I was waiting for some muscle to remove them with roots. Fortunately the muscle didn’t do it right away and they both grew new leaves! Yay! It’ll take years to grow the size they were but at least I don’t have to buy them again. Even the Bridal Veil on the arbour has come back. The only thing still showing signs of distress is the ground cover English Ivy which is normally incredibly invasive and stubborn. I hear that winter should be mild this year.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      Thanks. Sorry to learn about your figs dropping, hope the 2 remaining ones will ripen for you. I got my large container under the fig tree from Lowe’s, Very sturdy and I understand can withstand sun and any kind of weather.
      Lilac, holy and bridal veil are all very hardy bushes, glad all 3 of yours came back. I lost all my heath bushes, the pink ones as well as the white ones, decided not to replace as they are borderline for my area and not knowing if we will get another winter like last year better to plant what is suitable for my planting zone..

  15. I wish I was as successful at growing in my window boxes. I tried 3 this year with just herbs and haven’t been watering them enough. They look pretty horrible!

  16. Michelle says:

    Wow Norma, you really have got growing in containers down to a science, all your veggies look great. I do the 50/50 mix of old and new soil when I replant my containers and the old soil goes into the soil around my house where I grow ornamentals, herbs, and other things.

  17. I love your experiment with Chard! Amazing that it re-grows so quickly. I grew Amaranth this year because of its claims of tasting like Spinach. I found the foliage to be tough raw. I should try it cooked. I also want to try the seeds. ~ Rachel @ Grow a Good Life

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Rachel,
      I always cook my amaranth leaves, the tender stem is good also but may require peeling. The very young amaranth leaves, the ones in the center, are tender.

  18. I always thought flowers equalled window boxes. See the extent of my knowledge?
    But chard, everything, this is incredible! Bountiful indeed :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  19. hotlyspiced says:

    Congrats on 250 posts, Norma! That’s so kind of you to give away so much produce and great variety too. Your window boxes look like they’re coming along very well xx

  20. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says:

    I never considered growing vegetables in a window box. I don’t even plant them in pots. I need to rethink this idea. :)

  21. Pingback: Harvest Monday, August 18, 2014 + A Few Frist + Maximizing Garden Space | Garden to Wok

  22. Pingback: Harvest Monday, August 25, 2014 – Black Soy Beans + Tri-color Amaranth | Garden to Wok

  23. Pingback: Harvest Monday, September 1, 2014 – First Napa, Leek, Chicory (Radicchio) & Asian Pear + Blue & Fingerling Potatoes | Garden to Wok

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