Growing Vegetables In Containers
The beauty of growing vegetables in containers is that you can do this anywhere! You don't have to own a big garden. A patio, roof-top garden or balcony will do.
A sunny corner in a backyard could be used for growing vegetables in pots. Even a window-box on a window ledge can produce some lettuce.
Photo courtesy of jiva
I gathered a few thoughts here on what you need and should consider for vegetable container gardening:
You can use all sorts of containers that you come across. Important is that they are big enough to hold a sufficient amount of compost and that they have drainage holes. You can recycle old fish boxes, buckets, chimney pots or sinks for this purpose.
Of course you can use the more decorative terracotta pots or flower pots as well. You could also make up your own containers out of timber. This is up to you. Just one thing to keep in mind is that black containers heat up in the sun and the plant roots don't like that too much. You can either paint them with a lighter color or shade them somehow.
Most vegetables like a good amount of sunlight so choosing a sunny corner is important. They should get the sun for at least half a day. The place should also be easy for you to get to because will have to water and feed (and of course harvest!) regularly. So don't move it too far away from the house.
You could also be growing vegetables in containers indoors. If you have a sunny porch or conservatory that's ideal. If you don't have the perfect light conditions you could help this with some indoor plant lights.
It is very important to choose a good quality potting compost. It is the foundation of your container vegetable garden and for your success so don't skimp on it! Get the best one available. Don't use garden soil in your pots. It gets too hard and compacted in the pots and you don't really know what nutrients are in it. It also carries lots of seeds from weeds and can also harbor diseases. So don't waste your time on it!
Photo courtesy of Lorika13
You can grow most vegetables in containers. Often it is better though to choose compact or dwarf varieties. With potatoes for example it is better to grow the early varieties with the smaller tubers in pots.
There are loads of different varieties of tomatoes available:
You can grow trailing tomatoes upside down in hanging baskets. I prefer dwarf varieties like 'Totem' for growing tomatoes in containers. They stay very compact and tidy and produce a great amount of fruit.
Courgettes, peas, beans or radishes all grow easily in containers. For the likes of lettuces, rocket, spinach or small radishes a window-box is sufficient for growing them.
You can either start your plants off from seed or buy some vegetable plants from your garden center. If you only want to grow three tomato plants you might be better off buying some small plants. Often though you might not be able to get the varieties you like to grow. It also depends on the types of vegetables you are growing in your container vegetable garden. Vegetables like spinach, radishes or carrots can usually not be bought as small plants. You have to start them off from seed.
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Watering is critical when growing vegetables in containers! The need for water will depend on the weather (temperature and wind), plant size and pot size. Therefore it is important that you check your pots regularly.
If you can't water regularly because you are away a lot or going on holidays you should consider a watering system. A drip system with a suitable controller might save the live of your vegetable plants and will reduce the amount of work you have to do.
You will only produce a good cop of vegetables if your plants receive all the nutrients they need. Yellow leaves and stunted looking plants are a sign of insufficient nutrient supply. You can use either conventional or organic fertilizers. There is a big range of different fertilizers available. Always read the label of each product and use accordingly. Overuse can damage your plants by burning the roots. Liquid fertilizers have to be used regularly, usually once a week. Don't do it when the pots are very dry. Water the plants first.
The lazy gardener can use slow-release fertilizers like Osmocote. You mix the granules into the potting compost and they slowly release the nutrients over a period of time. The only downside of them is that they are not cheap. They save a lot of work though and the results are great.
Now you know how to grow vegetables in containers! It is not difficult and a lot of fun. Get to it!