Fall Container Gardening With Edibles

We once wrote a post titled Ornamental Edibles Or Pretty Tasty. (Click here to read it if you are interested. Sometimes we are clever with titles, sometimes not.) Thinking about food as pretty in a garden-y way makes sense on many levels.

Recently the switch was made in the containers around the Fairegarden that are replanted for warm and cold seasons twice yearly, from coleus and flowing flowering annuals to a mix of violas and greens. Redbor kale and red mustard offer colorful leaves that can be cut for nibbling and cooking along with curley parsley for a bright green punch.

The viola flowers are also edible, but we hate to pick them and disappoint the pollinators, until the weather gets too cold for them, anyway.

Two of the lineup of blue pots on the step-down part of the long wall are treated with changing plantings. The summer Iresine performed well, the Pentas and Berry-named Calibrachoas did not. Out they go, into the compost bin.

Replanted and ready to meet the cold temperatures, hopefully without losses. The violas will make it until June, it is doubtful that the greens will last that long, but we are ever optimistic. The kale has beautiful yellow flowers, if it lives that long. We are zone 7a, and lucky to have plantings in containers, and the containers themselves that can sit outside over the winter months. They are propped up on pot feet and filled with a fast draining potting mix.

New wire hanging baskets were added to the arbor this year. The summer plantings fried to a crisp with inadequate watering. Much more xeric type things will have to go in next year, but our wet winter should keep the greens and violas happy. We hope.

The standing wire container along the wall is a good space to experiment and better than those hanging baskets under the arbor. The hose is just inches away to help with the lack of rainfall during the warm times. During the cold times, water is not an issue, even if it freezes, which it will. The plants seem to survive that harsh treatment without harm. This photo was taken with the use of the flash.

Here is a sunnier view of it. Look down at the bottom, along the wall, there is the wire planter. It kind of is a bit player at the moment, what with the fall foliage and pink muhly showing off. But when things tone down a bit, the ornamental edibles will be a welcome sight, and taste.


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16 Responses to Fall Container Gardening With Edibles

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You have some tasty treats in those planters so you will have something to look forward to until it becomes the coldest part of the year. Pretty too.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I know the parsley will be available during the winter for adding to dishes, and the kale. The mustard is new to me, so we will give it a try, too. They look very pretty right now.

  2. Frances, I think it is great that you can overwinter what we use here as ornamentals. The mustard really gets big and hopefully it will last until Thanksgiving.


    Thanks Eileen. People here grow mustard greens as a winter crop, although being in containers lowers the hardiness zone by two, so we’ll see how it goes. Some of the leaves are getting large now, I was going to pick them to eat, either in a salad of sauteed. The other stuff should be fine, I have grown it before, although the kale can get very sad looking by late winter. We shall see how it works out, but it looks nice right now and will to Thanksgiving, for sure.

  3. Gail says:

    Frances, The containers look scrumptious! I love mustard and when they go to seed in the spring the cutie pie flowers are nice. I had a kale salad the other day that was delicious, but, it was plain old green kale not lovely redbor! Your garden is sure pretty this fall. xoxogail

    Thanks Gail. The food plants will be eaten, or nibbled as needed. There are large swiss chard plants to use over the winter, not in containers but in the raised bed. Some mustard was planted in there as well. We will have food!

  4. Victoria says:

    Dear Frances, your containers look absolutely scrumptious. And the final photograph of the garden is spectacular. I love the way the muhly grass catches the sun.

    Thanks, Victoria. It is a good year for the muhly grass, it seems. We are very lucky with the siting of the garden, house and slope to be able to get such nice backlighting in fall and spring. The containers are looking good, already.

  5. I never pulled out the kale I’d put in last fall. It bloomed most of the summer and is still alive now! (Odd looking and leggy however)

    Cool, Jill! I love the blooms on the kale and don’t really mind that long, leggy look. I hope these just planteds can get to that stage.

  6. It looks so tasty and I lvee the blue container! H.

    Thanks Helen. I love the containers themselves as much as the plants in them.

  7. Wendy says:

    So so pretty! I have some recently purchased pots that have that same glazed finish yours seem to.. Do you know if there’s any way to *KNOW* if they will survive being outside over winter? I’m in North GA, zone 7 as well. I had a really gorgeous small glazed pot that cracked last winter but it did not drain well and that swelling of the soil may have been the culprit. Just wondered if there’s any thing to look for, specifically, to know if a pot will over winter.

    Thanks Wendy. It can be confusing, but I have found the pots made in Viet Nam, the ones sold at better garden centers to be the best at making it through the winter. Look carefully for any hairline cracks, those are the sin edge of the wedge. Also, place them up on pot feet or on gravel. Many of mine are on overturned large terra cotta pots, to get them up higher and also help with drainage. Have the holes line up of the glazed and the terra cotta. Use a good draining potting mix, even cactus mix, place one coffee filter in the bottom to keep the soil in and bugs out. Good luck!

  8. Leslie says:

    That looks very tasty indeed! Love that container with the wavy top.

    Thanks Leslie. I love that one, too. There was a larger one and smaller one just like it, but they wouldn’t fit on the wall like the middle sized one.

  9. joey says:

    All about edible gardening, dear Frances. Yum!

    Thanks Joey. I am moving in that direction.

  10. Lola says:

    Wow, you have some great edibles there. My mescaline is ready for cutting. Another planting will be done after that. Banana/ bell peppers still giving me plenty. Guess I’ll have to start freezing them for soup or other uses.. How do you fix your kale? I have some that is my first time with it. Gail’s kale salad sounds scrumptious
    Is your Sheffield Mum a Dendranthema.? The old timey kind.I will have to wait till Spring to order some.. My pink mum is more lavender. Guess they don’t know around here.

    Thanks Lola. I saute the kale in some olive oil, chopped up then add to whatever I am cooking. I don’t know about the new names, just being stubborn, but the real name for the sheffies is Hillside Sheffied Pink, I belive. It is an old timer.

  11. I think edibles are often overlooked for their ornamental value, but as you point out, some really are quite beautiful. Yours will shine I’m sure, once that dazzling Muhly quiets down 😉 I just planted some Redbor kale too this afternoon, to give the vegetable garden a little pizazz. I haven’t grown it before, but the seed packet said it darkens in color with cold weather, so I’m curious to see how it does. Also added a beautiful red Komatsuna (which is really a deep blackish purple), which hopefully will bring a splash of color to some late season salads. I’ve been enjoying planting a number of the Asian greens this year, many of which have beautiful leaves, either in color, or texture, and really add some zing to the garden beds!

    Thanks CV. I need to try some of those Asian greens, they seem to be more available nowadays. Thanks for the idea. Good luck with your plantings. I am hoping the Redbor turns the dark purple that I have seen used in plantings in Asheville, quite stunning.

  12. Jane Carroll says:


    I love your blog…love the pictures and information…it’s a treat in my inbox each morning. I hope you don’t mind that I added you to my blogroll…just wanted my friends to be able to enjoy you as much as I do.

    Jane Carroll

    Thanks so much for the linkage and kind words, Jane. I have added your sweet blog to my blogroll, which is due for a 50,000 mile check-up this winter. I hope you aren’t getting a new post each morning, since I post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, usually. If so, someone is writing using my name! HA

  13. commonweeder says:

    I’m harvesting Brussels sprouts (not a really picturesque plant) and parsley. We are having a really mild fall, no hard frost yet.

    Hi Pat, thanks for adding in. Brussels sprouts are attractive in a Salvador Dali type of way, IMHO. Glad you are still enjoying fall. It is superb weather here, today.

  14. Hi, Frances! It’s been awhile (such a busy summer) but your garden pics are stunning, as always. I dream of living in a zone 7 climate someday. Until then, my little violas play in the sunny window. Hope all is well. – kate

    Hi Kate, thanks for stopping by, so nice to see you here again! Zone 7 is a good climate, we have lived colder and warmer and really like this one best. It has the greatest diversity of plants that will grow here. Your violas sound so sweet, glad they are cheering you.

  15. Vicky says:

    your gardens are gorgeous!!! It is hard to pick flowers before they are polinated, I know.
    Thanks for sharing

    Thanks so much Vicky. I am not much of a flower picker anyway, but have tossed voilas blossoms into salads and such before. They add such pretty color.

  16. Beautiful post! I really like the blue pots with the curved edge.

    Thanks Sage Butterfly. Even empty, the pots are all beautiful, but I do like plants in them, too. HA

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