I've decided plants love to be in the ground. Yes, they'll grow just fine in pots (or buckets!). But I second the motion that my own plants seem to crave being anchored deeply in terra firma.
The thing is, they want those juicy worms, teeming things, microbes, volunteer seeds from elsewhere...they want nutrition and warmth and diversity from the ground up (at least that's my opinion just now).
With pots, we have to add many of those things from the top down, and yep, they'll do fine. But I've been noticing where they LOVE to be, and for most of them, they just look happy in-ground. So I'm trying to pass on some in-ground love to my container plants till they can be permanently sited in a home of their own where they can stretch and multiply to their hearts' content.
Here's how the potted things are adding up so far:
1. I learned I planted all the leafy greens way too close together in the "salad bar bins." The mustards are rugged and prolific, but crowded, and ditto for all the others. The lettuces seem to the ones that are more content with that living situation, but I still needed to sow the seeds much MUCH farther apart. Lesson learned. The radishes never produced because of the crowding, but the radish seeds Jack tossed onto hard ground where he's digging around on the lot next door...THEY were not overcrowded and are developing right on TOP of the ground, using their tap roots to mine for nourishment, and they are stinking hardy! Another lesson learned.
2. I need to nourish the container plants more. They don't get nourishment from anywhere else. We're doing some mixed plantings, of necessity. I pulled a lot of the overcrowded greens (they were stunted after their last "haircut") and let them lie atop the soil, and under planted them (sparsely!) with Roma bush green beans. I also did this for all the dead papaya plants in buckets and the crunchy shrubs in bins that we're not sure about surviving the freezes. I sowed some cleome here and there. We'll be making some manure tea and comfrey tea quite soon to feed the container plants with.
3. Sunflowers are hardy! They've hung in there and the one next to the horseradish seems unusually happy. I wonder if it's the combination, or the site? I'll keep an eye on it. If it turns out sunflowers love horseradish, that'll be an unusual future planting combination on a larger scale...
4. I hate to say this. It's not a complaint...it's just what it is... I am tired of buckets. I'm ready for a sprawling section of green things and some beauty, and the buckets are not beautiful. They are, however, functional. I'll deal with it a while longer, but this impermanence of our own living situation will I hope give way this year to a permanent plan. We're simply not spending another penny on anything, and that includes gardening. The same goes with our time. Work and time together take precedence. Maybe I'm getting too old to be wonderwoman!
Ok, time to make do with what we have and get some of these wonderful seeds going. I'm sowing radishes here and there around unsuspecting plants and bushes since they grow better for me with some neglect than they do with a lot of pampering. We hope to put in a good-sized patch of bush beans (green beans and Romas) tomorrow, given the time and weather. We'll experiment with putting lines of topsoil right on top of the spread manure/woodchips, planting along those lines and hoping they do well...we have no way of turning it into the hardpan other than by hand just now, and we lack the time and brawn for it at present...so let's see if the alternative works. Ah, experiments!
...and so go the babes in the hay as they continue to experience the learning curves and crave their own square 'o dirt...