Not everyone has unlimited space to garden. We know that, and to those who cannot or do not want to cultivate a large expanse in order to grow a few vegetables, this is for you!

Brie Arthur, author of “Gardening with Grains” has expanded on the term: foodscaping with hints on maximizing possible growing spaces throughout the season. “The Foodscape concept is simple: Combine ornamental and edible plants together,” she explains.

“It is all about making the most of the square footage you have access to, and containers are an ideal place to start!”

Foodscapes in containers should include a thriller, spiller and filler, according to the  National Garden Bureau. Here are some suggestions for summer foodscape combos:

Warm season foodscape combinations
The sky is the limit when it comes to foodscape combinations. Always grow what you love, both aesthetically and from a practical eating standpoint.

Fruiting plant (tomato, pepper, eggplant) = Thriller
Foliage/ Flowers (coleus, angelonia, plectranthus) = Filler
Colorful vines (sweet potato, creeping Jenny, petunia) = Spiller
Groundcover Herbs (oregano, thyme, creeping rosemary, sage) = Spiller

Before you get started planting foodscape combinations, here are some of Arthur’s tips to keep in mind for a successful foodscaping experience!

Site
Full sun is best for traditional vegetables. Six to eight hours of direct light will ensure ample harvests through the season. However, some plants will perform in less exposure, particularly leafy greens such as kale, lettuce and spinach.

Locate containers near a water source to keep the foodscape containers irrigated! Through the heat of the summer, container combinations get thirsty. Also, be sure to locate the pot in a convenient spot for harvesting.

“One of my favorite areas to display foodscape containers is right outside my kitchen door” Arthur adds. “This is a spot that I walk past regularly, have a hose adjacent and is easy to harvest from.”

Containers
There are so many different types of containers, and any pot will work. Try five to 10-gallon plastic pots because they are large enough to fit four to seven different plants for dynamic combinations and are the easiest to create combinations.  Plastic containers are also less expensive and lighter to move compared to large glazed and terra cotta pots.

Grow bags are another wonderful option and are inexpensive and easy to plant. These fabric bags are permeable, meaning they drain well and will require regular watering. They come in all different sizes from small one-gallon bags to 100-gallon bags.

Soil and mulch
Traditional potting soil works well for foodscape containers. After planting be sure to mulch your pot with your choice of top dressing.  This will help maintain moisture and eliminate any soil splash during heavy rainstorms.  Shredded hardwood mulch, pea gravel and even well-washed shells are possibilities. Basically mulch just makes foodscape containers look more professional.

Fertilizer
Natural fertilizers are recommended, which will deliver long-term success and organic produce. One of the main things to avoid with fertilizer is using a ratio that is too strong.  That can lead to the plants growing excessively and then succumbing to insect infestations.

Apply fish emulsion or liquid kelp to containers once a month May through September to ensure all the plants get the nutrient they need to thrive.

Insect control
Insect infestations are usually much lower when growing in containers. However, if you have a sudden outbreak of aphids, whiteflies or mealybugs, insecticidal soap is the easiest and safest remedy. Hand pick and inspect plants often for earliest detection of insects or disease before either can get out of control.

There is still time to get a foodscape pot started to enjoy and provide beauty and food for the table.

Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold medal winner for writing and a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement, the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. She is a member of GardenComm and the National Garden Bureau. Her gardens are in Camden.