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Flowers and vegetables coexist nicely in half-barrel gardens

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Two years ago I was given a half barrel along with a rose bush, and a couple of patio tomato plants. The rose in the center took up most of the space so the tomatoes made do by simply hanging over the side. The effect was pleasing: pink-white roses up top with red tomatoes below. The following year I planted strawberries around the rose. They quickly covered the soil with a carpet of green and soon the runners were dangling over the side so that the barrel looked as though it was dressed in a kind of green Hawaiian skirt.

What I learned from those two seasons was that a barrel can easily be made to look pretty no matter what you put in it, and that food plants and flowers often go great together.

This year, using the three barrels I told you about last week, I plan to grow (A) a salad garden, (B) a flower garden, and (C) one that is a mixture of the two. The barrels are each 24 inches in diameter. If you plan to follow along, you will need a ruler, and a piece of stick about the size of a pencil. These are the steps I plan to take:

Tub A (tomatoes, lettuce, onions, radishes).

1.From the north end of the tub, measure four inches and draw a line in the soil across the tub (see figure 1). Now measure an additional eight inches and draw another line; four more inches and draw a third line. Finally draw three more lines, each two inches apart.

2.On the top line push two little twigs or sticks into the soil about four inches in from the side. This is where two patio tomato plants will go when it is warm enough. If there is no danger from frost in your region, you can plant the tomatoes right away.

3.On the next line, plant three buttercrunch or looseleaf lettuce seedlings. The outside two go in three inches from the side of the tub and the third one in between them.

4.On the remaining four lines, plant onion sets (little onion bulbs) two inches apart. Push the bulbs in until they are level with the top of the soil. You should have room for between 30 and 36 sets.

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