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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - April 07, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Container vegetable gardening in Austin
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Is vegetable container gardening an option with Austin's hot summers? I live in an apartment and I really want to plant an organic vegetable and herb container garden. I'm having a hard time finding information doing this in Austin's type of weather. My porch gets full sun to partial shade all day. I'm also planning on using lady bugs to help with pest control. Any information would be helpful, thanks -apartment dweller

ANSWER:

Sure, it’s an option, but one with its own very special challenges.

Sorry, Mr Smarty Plants is not into vegetable growing, except for eating them. Almost all vegetables are introduced, which means this doesn’t fall into our focus area of recommending the use of native plants.  I will note however that the Wildflower Center does have a nice article on container gardening with native plants. This should help a little!

Please check with your local nursery (the Natural Gardener and the Barton Springs Nursery come to mind) and the Travis County Extension office.  The Aggie Horticulture Department has a published article on this and a website dedicated to the floriculture side of container gardening.  Other references that appear to possibly quite useful are this one from HubPages and this one from Squidoo.

You also mentioned Lady Bug pest control.  The GardenInsects website linked below  indicates that Lady bugs, both adults and larvae, are known primarily as predators of aphids (plant lice), but they prey also on many other pests such as soft-scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites and eggs of the Colorado Potato Beetle and European Corn Borer.  The GardenInsects website has some information about using ladybugs. Don't be too eager to bring them out as they won't hang around if you don't have food [aphids] for them.   

 

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