If you choose the right varieties, there’s no reason why pots of crops can’t be just as attractive as those filled with ornamental plants, and they give you twice the value from the same amount of space.
1. TURN UP THE HEAT
This collection of fruiting plants (right) is potted individually but grouped together to create an eye-catching display. A piece of hessian wrapped around the plastic pots and tied with rope gives the impression that they are all growing in one large container.
Although all the plants used are easy to grow from seed, it is more cost effective to buy them as young plants from a garden centre in mid-to-late spring.
Totem tomatoes: this dwarf bush variety has been around for a number of years and is reliably heavy cropping. For smaller, sweeter fruits try ‘Balconi Yellow’ or ‘Balconi Red’, both of which are ideal for pots.
Apache Chilli pepper: this bushy variety (above, right) has been around a few years. It’s proved reliable and heavy cropping, bearing masses of small, bright red chillies on neatly-branching plants. It is both highly decorative and, with a medium-hot flavour, is extremely useful in cooking various dishes.
Baby Rosanna Aubergine: few edible plants are as attractive in all their parts as the Baby Rosanna Aubergine. The handsome felty leaves are usually greyish-green, the flowers mauve-pink and the fruits white, pink and purple-striped or deep glossy purple. The fruits of this ‘baby’ variety should be harvested when golf-ball sized.
Sweet Banana pepper: this striking sweet pepper produces a good crop of large, elongated, medium-flavoured fruits, up to 20cm in length. They turn from green through to bright yellow and orange, before maturing to a rich, glossy red.
Nasu chilli pepper: hot in its colouring and flavour, this variety produces small, glossy, pyramid-shaped fruits that mature to bright red. Like all chillies, it will fruit better the more sunshine it gets and, although it needs plenty of water, good drainage is essential.
2. LATE LUNCH
For an attractive and easy-to-grow green- and dark-red display mixing peas and radicchio, that, happily, really is good enough to eat.
Avola peas: compact varieties of peas, such as Avola (left) grow just 60cm high and is therefore ideal for containers. The pale green, mottled leaves and white flowers are complemented by the dark red of the radicchio. The abundant bright green pods hold seven or eight peas. Push in twiggy sticks for support.
Indigo radicchio: this increasingly popular Italian vegetable forms rosettes of handsome leaves that become red tinted as they mature and as temperatures drop. They have a slightly bitter taste and can be sliced up and added to salads, or grilled or roasted.
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