How To Grow Vegetables in Containers

In the “good ol’ days” everyone had a garden and raised lot’s of fresh vegetables. But, today’s lifestyles either find us without the time to take care of a large garden or without the space to have one!

Not having the time or space for a garden, doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own vegetables! Many vegetables are now available in compact dwarf and bush varieties and are perfect for container gardening!

The things that you can grow will depend on the size of the containers that you have space for. You can even use your deck for a vegetable garden and have tomatoes growing instead of flowers!

There are many shapes and sizes of containers and the materials will vary. The container you choose is really a matter of preference. Whether it’s clay, plastic or wood, the most important thing is size and adequate drainage.

The container must have several holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain. Standing water can rot the roots and your plants will soon die. You can purchase drill bits for almost any type of material and make extra holes in the container.

A container sitting on a solid surface won’t drain well. You will need to raise it by placing some blocks or something under the edges to unblock the holes.

The size of your container will depend on what you want to grow in it. For plants such as radishes, peppers, lettuce and herbs that have compact roots, you can have a container that is as little as 8 inches deep!

Vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and beans have larger roots and will require a deeper container. These types of vegetables grow really well in half barrels, large tubs or large pots. You can even use five gallon buckets, if the appearance isn’t an issue!

Many experienced container gardeners recommend using a soil-less potting medium. This type of mix drains faster than dirt, it’s lightweight and easier to move if necessary and less prone to diseases.

Most gardening centers carry soil-less potting mix, but you can make your own. Mix equal parts of peat moss, loamy soil and sand, then heat the mixture in the oven for about an hour to kill any bacteria or insects!

The number of plants for each container should follow the spacing guidelines on the back of the seed packets. The plants will die if they’re crowded and don’t have ample room for both the roots and the plant to grow.

All of the seeds won’t germinate, so plant more than you need and thin them out once they’ve sprouted and gotten a good start. If you’re planning on having several container of one vegetable, you can start them all in one and then transplant them to the other containers.

The downside to using soil-less potting mixtures is that there’s no nutrients. So, if you decide to use this type of growing medium you will need to fertilize your plants regularly.

There are many different types of fertilizers available and some are even formulated for specific plants. If you’re not sure what type to use, talk to someone at your local garden center.

If finding time to fertilize is a problem, purchase fertilizer that is time released. With this type you can add it to the soil and then it will slowly release the nutrients automatically.

Correct watering is essential for any plant and some will need to be watered everyday. The plants water requirements can also usually be found on the seed packets or the plastic sticks that are in the pot when you buy the plant.

The best and easiest way to water your plants is with a spray attachment on your water hose. Just be sure to spray out some of the water before watering the plant, a hose that’s laid in the sun will be full of hot water!

Plants should also be watered either early in the morning or late in the evening. The hot sun can cause water burns on the plants leaves that are wet or have water drops on them!

Gardening can be therapeutic and very relaxing. But, it can also be very rewarding when you creating a salad or dish from home grown vegetables!