The education staff at PHS has a near-endless supply of DIY projects to share. Here’s one conjured up by Sally McCabe that’s both easy and affordable. If you want bang for your buck, this is surely something to attempt this weekend.
To build a four-season container, the first thing you need is a container, one-gallon size or larger. This is one of those times where the cheaper the product, the better off you’ll be. Because this container will remain outside all winter, something rigid—like a ceramic pot—won’t work. A flimsy plastic container, the kind you often find by the dumpster at garden centers, is perfect.
Next you’ll need soil. At PHS we prefer to use organic products. The Pennsylvania-based company Organic Mechanics has great potting soil derived from compost.
Fill your container about one-fourth of the way with soil, then insert an odd number of late-spring bulbs. Daffodils work wonderfully; tulips will do the trick as well. Whichever you pick, cover them up with additional soil until the container is about half full.
Then you’ll arrange some early-spring bulbs in the container, again using an odd number. The chipper crocus is perfect in terms of season and size. Add even more soil until the container is just about full.
The final step is adding plants for the top of the pot. You can go ornamental with hardy pansies, or practical with plugs of lettuce, kale, or spinach. Sally actually recommends using a combination of the two. Place them in a way that’s pleasing and you are good to go!
Now that your container is complete, here’s what to expect. For the remainder of October and all of November and December, you can enjoy lots of leafy greens (imagine how impressed your Thanksgiving guests will be). The pansies will also endure the increasingly cold weather, giving your deck, stoop, or fire escape a pop of color. Sally feels strongly that even a foot or two of snow won’t harm these top-level plants. And remember, no matter how nasty the weather gets, don’t bring the container inside; the warm indoor temperatures will confuse the bulbs below the soil.
Eventually you’ll eat all the lettuce and the pansies will pass their prime. Feel free to remove what remains. No need to be sad, this sets the stage for the crocuses to surface in early spring. You’ll enjoy these colorful pals for some time, and once they begin to fade it’s time for the bottom layer of daffodils or tulips to have their moment in the sun. By this point it’ll be May, and you’ll have had about eight months of enjoyment from one simple planting.
If you want to create this simple-but-lasting project, now is the time to start. Document your efforts and share photos with us on the PHS Facebook page. Have fun throughout all four seasons!