What’s Your Garden Style: Container Vegetable Gardening
This year my vegetable garden is going to knock it out of the park! No more whining about my small space.
I’ve been looking at my vegetable growing options and I’m going to incorporate container vegetable gardening into the mix.
In The Way We Garden Now: 41 Pick-and-Choose Projects for Planting Your Paradise Large or Small Katherine Whiteside says that container gardening is a very satisfying micro-chore within the context of a larger garden. She calls it “puttering among the pots”. You can make your deck or porch into an area with a fabulous collection of containers. Big, small, funky, fun to look at and they can be productive.
Are you a container vegetable gardener? Here’s how to tell if it is right for you:
- You have a small yard or growing area
- You live in an apartment
- You want fresh produce without taking up much space
- Your “big” garden is far from the kitchen and you want easy access to salad greens and herbs
- You have accessibility challenges
- You want to make the most of EVERY available space
- You want to get a jump on the growing season
- You want to have multiple harvests
Contain Yourself – Pot Basics
- Each pot needs a drainage hole. Containers can easily get waterlogged and this extra water will kill the roots. If your chosen container doesn’t have holes, drill them before planting.
- Remember to think about the weight of your container after it is planted and watered. Some of the things I want to put into pots may not be suitable for my second story deck. Access where you are placing the pot and if you will need to move it once planted. Sometimes people put their large pots on rollers.
- Use potting soil, not garden soil. The lighter the better. I add additional peat moss to mine. It retains water and is lightweight.
- Be prepared to need additional fertilizer. Potting soil may not supply all the nutrients your container vegetables need for the entire growing season.
- Remember that container gardens need more water, in fact, they will need daily watering during the peak grow season when it is hot. Consider a drip system if you travel or are forgetful.
- Be creative, use any sturdy pot, bucket or boot – just be sure that the pot has enough room to fit the root system of the plant.
- Experiment – container vegetable gardening will allow you to space your plants closer together and easily spot pests.
Vegetables and Herbs suitable for container gardening
You can grow most anything in a pot as long as you have enough room for the plants root system to grow. The beauty of container vegetable gardening is the ability to replant as needed, so if you find your veggies in a pot that’s too small, just pot it up into something bigger. Err on the big pot side for root crops, though, these do not like to be replanted.
Here are some container friendly vegetables and herbs and their suggested root depth requirements.
- *5-7 inches – lettuce (leaf and head), spinach, celery, radish, mustards, peas, swiss chard, bunching onion, cilantro, thyme
- *6-9 inches – carrots (think short), beets, melons, most herbs – basil, parsley, oregano, mint
- *10-14 inches – eggplant, peppers, beans, broccoli, cabbage, rosemary
- *16-18 inches – cucumber, squash, tomato, pumpkin, watermelon (these do not like to be transplanted)
Gardening in pots is one of my favorite ways to add variety to the porch and patio. What do I grow in pots? Lettuce, onions, comfrey and potatoes, just to name a few. This year I’m trying my hand at growing strawberries in gutters. More on that in a future post!
Have you been successful growing vegetables in pots? Be sure and stop by our popular gardening board Sow What!
Resources from around the web:
This post from Apartment Therapy certainly is creative. He’s growing in cloth grocery bags and a kiddie pool. Check it out.
The Way We Garden Now: 41 Pick-and-Choose Projects for Planting Your Paradise Large or Small by Katherine Whiteside (Amazon link)
McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers by Rose Marie Nichols McGee & Maggie Stuckey (Amazon link)
The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers by Edward C Smith (Amazon link)
Other posts in the Vegetable Gardening Series: