Growing Vegetables In Containers – Food From The Smallest Spaces!
Growing vegetables in containers is the perfect solution if you have limited space but still want to produce fresh food.
What about if you only have a balcony or patio?That is no problem at all!
If you’ve got room for some pots and you get sun then you can grow food. You can grow smaller vegetables in window boxes and in hanging baskets too. Growing vegetables in containers can give you an productive garden without the hard work of tilling and weeding
Popular Choices For Container Vegetable Gardening
You can plant regular varieties of vegetables in your containers or you can opt for varieties which have been bred for container growing. Why not experiment with the different types and see which you prefer?
You can add many fruits as well such as these strawberries growing in a container.
This small container garden takes up only a small space and yet still produces lovely fresh strawberries.
It’s easy to care for, easy to keep weeds out – and you can place it somewhere it is easy for you to harvest from.
What To Use As Containers For Vegetables?
You can use pretty much anything that will hold soil. Don’t try growing vegetables in containers that are too small or too shallow. You need containers that are at least 6 inches deep. The soil will dry out quickly in warm weather.
Avoid dark containers which will heat up too much on sunny days. You can paint dark containers a lighter color or shade them by placing dark containers in a group with lighter colored ones on the outside.
Obviously containers that you buy from the store will be perfectly suited to your needs but if you like to recycle or are on a tight budget then here are some ideas for you.
- Large food cans
- Plastic sacks
- Old wheelbarrow
- Reusable grocery bags – the woven plastic kind
- Kiddie pool
- Toy tubs
- Plastic totes
- Old tires lined with plastic. There is a possible concern about toxins leaching from old tires, so line with plastic to be on the safe side.
Keep a look out to see what others are throwing out, you might find some great containers!
The size of the container is important. For larger vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants, you should use at least a five gallon container for each plant.
Whatever container you choose to use, make sure that it has good drainage. You might need to drill some holes. Add some gravel, stones or broken pot to the bottom of the container to stop the holes getting plugged up with soil.
Put your container into it’s final home before you fill it with soil. Filled containers are heavy and hard work to move!
If you live in a windy area, put extra weight into the bottom of your containers before you fill with soil. Tall plants are easily blown over and damaged!
Soil Mix for Container Vegetables
Potting soil is usually very lightweight and doesn’t hold moisture very well. Mix potting soil 50/50 with compost for best results.
Mix a granular feed into the soil before adding your seeds or plants. You will still need to feed your plants as they grow but this will give them a good start.
Don’t rely on a slow release feed as it can be washed out of the drainage holes due to the frequent watering needed by container grown vegetables.
Watering Your Container Grown Vegetables
Growing vegetables in containers takes less weeding then a regular garden plot, but it does require more watering. The bigger your vegetable plants get the more water they will require, this is especially true when they are producing fruit.
Water container gardens in the early morning – and again in the evening when the weather is very warm, so that the water is available to your plants for longer. Watering in the heat of the day just results in a lot of it being evaporated.
Help your containers retain moisture by using a mulch to cover the soil.
Try Soda Pop Bottle Water Irrigation
If you set a perforated plastic bottle into each container then the water will be released over time and the soil will stay moist.
The larger your container is, the more soil it will contain and that means it can hold more moisture. The opposite is true of smaller containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. These will need more frequent waterings.
While container gardens do need lots of water, your plants will not grow well if they are drowning. As long as you have adequate drainage in your containers, over watering shouldn’t be a problem.
Check the moisture level of your soil by sticking your finger in a couple of inches. Only water if the soil feels dry.
Don’t rely on the rain! Often the rain will drip off the foliage of larger plants onto the ground outside the pot. Even if it has been raining for hours, check your pots to see if they are moist.
Caring For Your Container Garden
Aside from regular watering and feeding, keep an eye out for insect damage or plant disease. Adding some companion plants to your container garden will help on both counts.
Some plants will need supporting as they grow so make sure you have some plant stakes or trellis ready. Bush plant varieties will usually be ok with just a central stake.
Bigger vining types will need something more robust. A simple support can be made by placing 3 stakes into the pot and tying at the top to make a teepee shape. Cut strips from old t-shirts or nylons to use for tying the plants to the supports.
Once your plants have finished producing, put them onto your compost pile.
You can carry on growing vegetables in containers over the winter months if you construct a lightweight greenhouse over your container.
Be sure to plant winter vegetables – not peppers or tomatoes – that will thrive with cooler temperatures and less sunlight hours.
Have fun growing heaps of vegetables in your containers. Once you get started you will realize how easy it is and you’ll be surprised at how much food you manage to grow.
Vegetable container gardening is a really great start but don’t forget about fruit. Fruit bushes grow well in containers as do strawberries. How about a fig tree? You’ll need a large container and some support. Figs really do love to be grown in containers and they make delicious jam!