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It’s Easy to Grow Vegetables in Containers

Container Gardening With Potatoes

Even though you might live in an apartment or a house with a small amount of land, you can still enjoy gardening and harvesting healthy delicious vegetables.  With a few buckets, half barrels, pots, tubs, fish tanks, or whatever, you can get started with growing vegetables and herbs in containers.  There are numerous vegetables and herbs that are perfectly happy growing in containers or pots, and you will actually be surprised at how large the harvest can be.

Container gardening is also good for people with limited mobility because the containers raise the plants off the ground or floor so they’ll be more accessible.

You can even hang the pots from your porch.  This type of gardening can work on a driveway, patio, balcony, windowsill, or a small patch of the yard.

Selecting a Container

It’s easier to grow plants in larger (12-inch opening and at least 12 inches deep) containers since there’s more soil available and also more room for the roots.  The extra soil will stay moist longer and cut down on the watering you’ll have to do.

If plant roots don’t have enough room, they will continue to grow and eventually fill up all the available space in the soil.  This condition is called “rootbound” and will eventually choke out the plant.

The larger containers would work well for plants the size of tomatoes, peppers, and squash, and smaller containers would be useful for lettuce, mizuna greens, and most herbs.  Grow bags are a good option to use for large containers.

The temperature could be a problem with your container garden.  Metal or dark containers can get very hot,

especially in full sun, and could damage the roots of your plants.  Light-colored or wooden containers will keep the soil cooler.

If you’re going to put your containers on a shelf or a windowsill make sure they can hold the weight of your container garden.  Otherwise, you can just keep a camera and a broom handy and you’ll eventually get a good video you could post online…

Keep in mind that if you use terra cotta or unglazed ceramic pots you will have to water the plants more often.  The clay in these pots causes faster water evaporation, but you can avoid it by using plastic pot liners or sealing the pot with a stone sealer.

There’s really no limit to what you could use for a container.  Plastic buckets, old toy chests, large bowls, or even a wheelbarrow could be used.  This could be another time to use your imagination.

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Make Sure Your Containers Have Good Drainage

It’s very important that your containers have drainage holes, or the plant roots could become waterlogged, and the plants may die.  Wet roots could also suffer from rot, fungus, and mold.

Plastic, metal, and wooden containers are easily drilled to add drainage holes.  We’ve found that ½-inch diameter holes work very well.  Don’t make small holes (1/8-inch or so) because soil easily clogs them.

Cover the drain holes with a plastic screen to further protect them from clogging.  Then, dump in a layer of perlite or pea gravel at the bottom of the container before adding the soil.

Some Suggested Plants for Container Gardening

Most plants will do well with container gardening, so this list is just a small sampling of the ones you can grow.  This will give you some ideas on how to handle similar plants.  Some plants have dwarf, compact, small, or bush varieties, so choose them to grow in your containers.

  • Asian Vegetables.  Mizuna greens, daikon radishes, and tatsoi are some of the possibilities.  See our article on “Growing Asian Vegetables” for more suggestions.
  • Carrots.  Depending on the variety you want to grow, the container depth should be twice the length of the carrots.
  • Cucumbers.  Try to get the bush variety; otherwise, you’ll have to add a trellis to the container.  These plants can quickly fill a large container.
  • Eggplant. Temperatures lower than 50 degrees F will damage some varieties.
  • Herbs.  It’s very easy to grow individual plants in small containers or pots.  Larger containers can make an herb garden with a good selection of different plants.
  • Lettuces, greens, and spinach.  The root systems on these plants are fairly shallow so they don’t need a deep container.
  • Peas.  Put tall stakes in the container so the plants will have something to climb on.
  • Peppers.  Any variety, hot or sweet, is good for containers.  Keep the hot and sweet peppers far apart, however, because they will cross-pollinate.  Sweets will get hotter and hots will get less hot.
  • Potatoes.  Use potatoes that have a short growing season.  Some potatoes take up to 120 days.
  • Radishes.  Globe radishes don’t need very deep containers, but icicle radishes will need more depth.
  • Summer squash and zucchini.  Treat these plants just like cucumbers.  Try to get the bush variety, or add a trellis for the vining variety.
  • Tomatoes.  This is another plant that requires stakes or a cage for support. If you’re using stakes, loosely tie the tomato plants to the stakes as they grow.

Some plants that don’t work well with container gardening include corn, large pumpkins, melons, and squash.

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Taking Care of Container Plants

It’s important to keep your plants well-watered.  If you stick your finger in the soil and it’s dry about 2 inches down it’s time to rewater.  Soil in containers can be hard to remoisten if it dries out completely.

You can add a layer of mulch to your containers but keep it about an inch or so from plant stems.  This will help retain moisture.

Container plants should be fed starting every 2 weeks.  Adjust the feeding time depending on how you see the plants respond.  They can be fed by watering with seaweed extract, diluted fish emulsion, or compost tea.

Be on the lookout for insect pests.  If you see any, refer to our articles on “Top 5 Natural Pest Control Methods You Can Use Now” and “Companion Planting Charts to Help You Grow Your Best Garden.”

Final Thoughts

You don’t need wide open spaces to grow vegetables in containers.  Container gardening gives you the ability to grow delicious fresh vegetables regardless of your living space.

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Bob Styer

As a child, I hated gardening. That was mainly because Dad expected us to work in the garden every so often even though we thought play was more important. Over the years, though, I've developed a real appreciation for growing things. Whether you're growing plants for food or to enjoy their beauty, gardening can make your life better. Seize the moment!

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