Container vegetable gardening is ideal for small spaces, balconies, urban-homesteading and roof tops. Growing vegetables in containers and pots can sometimes be more successful than conventional gardening as you can control the growing conditions more easily. You can easily move your plants from one area to another, and your soil moisture content is often better than open ground.
Another way of container vegetable gardening is to grow your plants and vegetables in wooden boxes, with a fixed grid and to plant within each grid which measures one square foot. This method is called Square Foot Gardening.
You can create a container vegetable garden any type of container from the simple bucket to purpose made planters and pots. In the past I have used plastic buckets, old sinks, polystyrene boxes retrieved from the fruiterer, cut down wine barrels and window box planters.
As long as you have good soil, a sunny place, fresh seed and good drainage in your containers, you can grow vegetables in containers anywhere.
Remember though, if you are using terracotta or wooden containers for container gardening the soil will dry out quicker than if you are using plastic containers. For top heavy plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, make sure that the container is heavy and weighted.
For trailing plants like snow peas think about growing vegetables in hanging baskets instead. Hanging baskets are also a novel way of growing herbs.
In addition to your organic material, you can add the following to every 8 liters of soil:
1/2 cup Epsom salts
1/4 cup coffee grounds (rinse them clean)
4 egg shells (dried and crushed to powder)
To get air into your soil and to make it lighter, add some granular polystyrene, or better still Perlite. A couple of cupfuls to your containers should be enough. Adjust according to the size of the container, but can make up 1/3 of the volume. Don't add too much as it is a water-repellent, and unless you add extra peat moss, you will find that your soil will dry out quicker than you want.Finally I always add a good handful of blood and bone to give the vegetables a good start in their containers. I am also a fan of poultry manure more than any other for vegetables because of its high nitrogen content. Just make sure that it is not fresh, as it will burn the roots of your vegetables.
In the picture above we have beetroot and strawberries growing together. Whereas they won't help one another in any way, as true companion plants should do, they won't harm each other either. Just remember that when growing vegetables in containers that they are planted with good companions. If not, you will not have much success. See which plants are good for Companion Planting here.
You don't need to waste space by using broken pottery or stones at the bottom of your containers. However, to prevent the soil being washed away through the drainage holes, place a piece of metal mosquito netting or fly screen across the holes before adding the soil.
The sky is the limit really. You can even grow potatoes in old tires! Here you can see tomatoes being grown in a plastic bucket. Sweet peppers can also be grown in this way, and because they are ornamental and attractive, they can be very successfully grown in a nice pot on your patio. Both tomatoes and peppers will probably need to be staked.
Small vegetables like cress, mustard, spring onions and most herbs of course, are ideal for growing in containers, as is fast-growing
rocket, spinach and a variety of lettuces. Leaves can be picked on an ongoing process, even before they have matured.
Vegetables that give a continuous harvest are also popular container growing vegetables. Silver beet, beetroot and rhubarb are examples of these.
Horseradish is a must when growing vegetables in containers because if you plant horseradish in the garden it will soon become so invasive you will wish that you hadn't planted it in the first place!
Planting horseradish is done in the spring. Divide the crowns into four pieces, each with some root and some of the leafy top. Allow the cuts to heal for 2 - 3 days. Set the pieces at 45 degree angles, with the tops 2 inches below the surface in your containers.
Harvest your horseradish during and throughout the winter and continue to do so until just before the tops begin growing again in the spring.
All of the above vegetables grow well in containers. Horseradish, particularly will spread throughout any vegetable garden and therefore is better grow like this to keep it contained.
|Basil||Mini Greek, Spicy Globe|
|Cabbages||Baby Head, Little Leaguer, Pee Wee|
|Carrots||Lady Finger, Little Finger, Planet, Thumberlina, Touchon|
|Cucumber||Patio Pik, Little Minnie, Tiny Dill|
|Eggplant||Bambino, Modern Midget, Pirouette|
|Lettuce||Little Gem, Tom Thumb|
|Okra||Dwarf Long Pod|
|Peas||Dwarf Grey Sugar, Knight, Little Marvel, Mighty Midget|
|Pumpkins||Baby Boo, Baby Pan, Jack-Be-Little|
|Summer Squash||Gold Rush|
|Tomatoes||Florida Basket, Pixie, Spoon, Red Robin, Tiny Tom|
|Winter Squash||Bush Butternut|
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