Planting Vegetables in Pots – Helpful Hints
Any location in or around your home that receives about 8 hours of sunlight makes an ideal location for vegetable gardening in containers. The advantage of setting up container gardens, also sometimes called mini-gardens, is that they adapt to whatever space you have available as well as your personal tastes in food. Beyond this you’ll find that containers come in numerous shapes, colors, and materials, at least one of which should suit the overall ambiance of your home and yard.
Simple or Sublime
If you don’t need anything fancy, recycle old buckets, plastic bags, and even milk cartons. The plastic bags can hang over fences (put a few holes in, slide in a vine-vegetable, and you’re pretty well done except for on-going care). For any containers that do not offer drainage holes, always either add some tiny gravel in the bottom, or make your own drainage hole using a drill or hammer and nail. It’s very important that vegetable roots have proper dampness. Too much water, and they rot from the root up.
One word of caution, do not use any type of treated wood as a container. The powerful chemicals that extend the lifespan of the wood can leach into your edibles.
Potting soil bears that name for a reason. It’s made to be light and filled with good nutrients. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to fertilize your pots periodically throughout the growing season, but it does mean you start out with a blend that supports healthy plant growth.
Kick Starting Vegetable Gardening in Containers
One great way to get your container garden off to a good start is starting the seeds in individual small containers like paper cups! Once the seeds peek their head above the soil wait for about another month, then move each vegetable into the container you’ve chosen for it. Place these as desired – on your porch, a deck railing, or even a doorstop.
The most successful vegetables for container gardens are the miniature cultivars or bush plants because they work well in smaller spaces. Herbs are also an excellent choice to round out your edibles. Lettuce and spinach are also good options for summer-long salads.
If you have sunny, warm locations inside your house, you can extend your growing season by moving the pots to those spaces. No more worries of frost. I once had a huge cherry tomato plant that continued yielding until February in Western NY by using this trick.
Remember to choose containers that can sustain a fully grown plant. Some vegetables (like root crops) do not like being transplanted if you plan badly. To give you an idea for spacing, a one gallon milk carton container can accommodate about 2 lettuce plants and one spinach plant. A 10-inch pot with a one gallon capacity will grow 2 dozen or more radishes.