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RISMEDIA, September 25, 2010—(MCT)—Fall offers some of the best vegetable gardening. In fact, autumn’s cool weather and Jack Frost’s nippy touches can enhance the flavor of healthy greens. Pamela Crawford, author of Easy Container Combos: Vegetables and Flowers offers the following tips for planting productive, pretty patio pots.

Start with transplants. Transplants are much quicker and easier than growing from seed.

Keep containers simple. Two to three varieties per pot are plenty. When picking your plants, be sure to read the tags before you buy your varieties. You can’t just pick any flower and vegetable and plant them together in a container; varieties require similar sunlight conditions and should have similar growing habits.

Combos like large containers that have drainage holes in the bottom. Vegetables will grower larger and produce more fruit when roots have more space to grow. More water can be stored, you won’t have to haul out the hose as much and most vegetables just look better in bigger containers. Drainage holes are extremely important so roots don’t rot.

Plant as close as you can. Container gardens are planted much closer together than gardens in the ground. Don’t be afraid to plant varieties close together in your container, and yes, plants will live and flourish.

Create a centerpiece. A centerpiece can be any type of plant as long as it remains taller than surrounding plants for the life of the arrangement. Choose a plant that is full, or combine several skinny plants to create your focal point.

Don’t forget flowers. Add pretty petals into the mix as vegetables can get leggy. Be sure to plant flower varieties around the base edge of the container in order to cover up leggy stems, add some pop and soften the look.

(c) 2010, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.).

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.