Container gardening is becoming more popular among home gardeners, especially when space is at a premium. On a windowsill, patio, deck or balcony or in any other location where the growing conditions are suitable for vegetables, containers may be used to cultivate crops. Who says you can't garden if you live in an apartment or condo?
Growing potted plants and leafy greens in plastic pots and fabric pots is not only something to do when space is limited, they add personality and are aesthetically pleasing to look at. You can have your very own vegetable garden right on your back deck or patio.
Another advantage of patio gardening is that containers may be moved about to take advantage of changing weather conditions (such as rain or sunshine), and their closeness to your entryway makes caring for plants and collecting produce straightforward and convenient.
Container gardening is very enjoyable and is one of the easiest forms of gardening as you don't really have to weed your containers, watering and giving your plants nutrients is quick and easy and they provide a gorgeous accent to any deck, balcony or walkway.
Let's talk about growing your vegetables in containers.
Container Gardening With Vegetables
We are going to explore some of the different types of containers that work best for patio gardening, as well as the best soil for containers and which vegetables grow really well in these pots. This will set you up for the most successful gardening.
What Container To Use For Growing Vegetables
Your choice of container for vegetables and leafy greens is critical to the success of your gardening. Once plants have reached their maximum height and width, their containers should have the appropriate volume and depth to accommodate them, and this is something you can plan for before growing those plants.
So depending on what vegetable you are growing will determine the appropriate size container. For example, miniature greens and leaf lettuces like spinach and green onions need at least a depth of four to six inches in their pots. Their roots don't need as much space as other vegetables so you can use smaller containers to grow those vegetables.
If you want to grow a lot of vegetables like tomato plants and peppers in a container, you'll need at least five gallons and at least 12 to 18 inches in height.
Many different kinds of containers are available for growing vegetables, including
- 5-gallon buckets
- storage containers
- terra cotta/clay pots
- ceramic pots
- concrete planter boxes
- wooden barrels
- bushel baskets
- plastic bags
- grow bags
- self-watering containers
You will just want to check to see whether the container you choose has proper drainage holes before purchasing it as you will need to maintain moist soil, otherwise the water will pool at the bottom of the container and this can lead to root rot.
This is something that is important to consider as you will have to provide your potted plant with consistent watering but you don't want consistent overly wet soil.
What Soil To Use For Container Gardening
Most vegetables may be grown in a commercial potting mix as long as it is a well draining soil, which most are. Ingredients such as compost, peat moss, bark, perlite, or other similar materials are often included in these lightweight, high-organic matter potting mixes.
Before buying potting soil, check the label to see what ingredients are in it and if it is good for vegetable plants, or whatever crop you would like to grow in it.
Pasteurized soil products may lower the risk of illness from soil-borne pathogens, so if feasible, use a type like that. A slow-release fertilizer may be necessary if one is not already included in the potting soil mix.
Bagged potting mixes are available in three convenient cubic foot sizes: 1, 2, and 2.8. (7.5, 15 and 21 gallons respectively). The planting mix should be used to the fullest extent possible to ensure proper drainage and adequate root growth. And what is really great in today's age, is that you can order the best potting soil for your containers online and have it delivered right to your door. No mess, no heavy lifting from the store to your vehicle, and you can always order more if needed.
What To Put At The Bottom Of Vegetable Containers
There is no need to place anything in the pot's bottom, such as pebbles or bits of shattered pottery. Potting soil is specifically designed with the right compounds to allow for good drainage so long as your containers have holes in the bottom for excess water to flow out of, however; I personally like to add some things to the bottom of my containers if they are large enough just to make them a bit lighter to move around.
Alternatively, you can get pot stands that have wheels around them so you can easily move your containers in the sun or out of the sun, move them in or out of the rain or just move them around your patio furniture!
Let's talk about the different vegetables you can grow in containers.
Best Container Gardening Vegetables
Container gardening is a simple and gratifying way to grow your food. Not only does that provide easy access and clean gardening options and ideas, but it looks beautiful and decorative, especially if you add some solar gardening lights to your pots.
Here are some of the best vegetables to grow in containers:
Asparagus: Asparagus is a pricey food item to purchase! Instead, grow it yourself. As it grows, it works best in pots that are broad enough to support the plant's expansion. It is important to note that asparagus will take 3 years to produce the asparagus that you know and love and are able to harvest. It is also important to note that asparagus has a large root system and becomes fern like at maturity, so you will want a large pot for this plant.
Container size for asparagus: Choose a large container, approximately 16 to 24 inches minimum pot depth and at least 3 to 6 feet wide to accommodate the size of the plant at maturity.
Beans: Potted bean plants benefit from their upright growth habit. The most important thing is to have something for them to climb on as they develop.
Container size for beans: For bush beans, choose a large window box or a pot that's at least 15 inches in diameter. For pole beans, the container should be at least 18 inches in diameter and a trellis set up for them to grow up.
Carrots: Carrots perform well in pots and take up little space, although carrot roots that aren't wet are prone to drying out and cracking. You will want to have loose soil for carrots so their roots can grow down and straight. I have successfully grown carrots in my patio containers before; they do seem to do better in a garden plot as you can grow many more, but they look really beautiful in containers, especially if you add a little solar light to light up their tall greens in the evenings!
Container size for carrots: Choose a pot that is at least 8 inches deep to grow short or half-long varieties, and a container that is 10 to 12 inches deep for standard length carrots. Fill the pot with good quality potting soil, this is very important for carrots.
Cucumbers: It is really simple to grow cucumbers in a container. To grow, they need full light, a trellis or cage, and frequent waterings.
Container size for cucumbers: Cucumbers should be grown in containers at least 8 inches in depth, and 12″ in circumference. Large planters that have at least 5 gallons of soil capacity work best.
Eggplant: However, even though they're heavy feeders, eggplants do well in pots when given frequent watering and placed in full sun (they adore heat).
Container size for eggplants: Choose a large pot with at least 5-gallons capacity. Growing eggplants in containers requires 12 to 14 inches of space per plant, or you can plant three plants in a 20 inch container.
Lettuce: The majority of salad greens can thrive in pots. When grown in a container, leafy vegetables such as lettuce fares well since it grows swiftly. If you reside in a hot environment, you should plant lettuce in the winter. To avoid the summer heat, cultivate your plants in the spring if you reside somewhere chilly.
Container size for lettuce: Most varieties of lettuce can grow in 6 to 12 inch pots, which are considered small containers. The greens need a consistent supply of water to thrive, but keep in mind that they cannot tolerate wet roots. Again, soil quality and drainage need to be considered.
Peas: Peas are a great vegetable to grow in pots since they don't need a lot of space and may survive in mild circumstances. A trellis is necessary since they will want to climb and take up vertical space. Peas are more of a cool weather crop, which doesn't mean they won't grow well when it gets warmer out; they thrive in cooler weather before the heat of the summer.
Container size for peas: You will need a container which is at least 14 inches wide and 14 inches deep and you can grow more than one plant per container as long as you keep them well spaced.
Peppers: Prolific and easy to grow in pots, peppers (both sweet and spicy) thrive in full light. Once a few peppers begin to form, the branches of bell peppers require a little more support, so you can support them with sticks or anything you can gently tie them to. Tomato cages can work for peppers as well.
Container size for peppers: peppers grow well in containers that are at least 3-5 gallons in size. For larger varieties like bell peppers look for a larger pot with 5 gallons or more.
Potatoes: At first, you may be surprised to learn that you can grow potatoes well in containers. You should anticipate collecting 1-2 pounds of potatoes per container every week, so you may only need to plant one or two buckets per season. To grow a better yield of potatoes, find a container that you can stack because when you see potato leaves, you will want to bury them in dirt so they root and grow more potatoes.
Container size for potatoes: Select a container that is at least 16 inches in diameter and 16 inches tall. You can plant 4-6 seed potatoes in this sized container. Potatoes will do best if you can build the container up once the leaves poke through, meaning you will want to bury the leaves in soil. This encourages more root growth, and more potatoes. So the deeper the pot the better, or, if you have a buildable pot where you can add on to it, bonus.
Spinach: You can easily grow spinach in a container as long as it has a larger surface area to volume ratio than its depth. It can be planted in early spring and it is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in pots.
Container size for spinach: Plant spinach in containers that are 6-12 inches deep and be sure to use a high quality potting mix rich in organic matter.
Squash: When grown in containers, squash thrive in the heat. Rooftops and balconies are excellent places to plant them as well. Make sure the vine squash (yellow squash, spaghetti squash, etc.) can grow up a trellis or arch.
Container size for squash: Squash can be grown in a container with a diameter of at least 24 inches. The container depth for squash should be at least 12 inches.
Tomatoes: It's commonly known that tomatoes thrive in containers. Because of their weight, tomatoes branches will bend because of the weight of the fruit and the height they grow. To avoid this, choose a bush variety of tomato plants or plant cherry tomatoes instead if you're doing container gardening. Alternatively, if you love garden tomatoes or field tomatoes, you will just have to plan to support them adequately with a tomato cage.
Container size for tomatoes: Tomatoes of the bush or cherry should be planted in 10 gallon containers, while larger tomato varieties need 20-gallon containers to thrive.
Swiss Chard: Growing swiss chard in containers is really amazing if you are going for the look of your container gardens as well as taste! Swiss chard can have beautiful gold, purple, red and green stalks and doesn't need too much room in a container.
Container size for swiss chard: The best size of container for growing swiss chard is 5 gallons at least.
There you have it. These are some of the best vegetables to grow in containers if you want to try your hand at it this year and have your fresh veggies right from the patio or deck.
Why Grow Vegetables In Containers
It's advantageous to grow veggies in containers. It's a great solution for folks who have little room, plus it can extend your growing season as you can start your container growing indoors early, and move your container garden outdoors when the weather is good.
You can also move your pots around to take advantage of the morning sun or take them inside when there is cold weather. You may relocate your container garden as the season's change, or just to fit your particular style.
The bonus to growing your own vegetables in pots is that it is also less sensitive to soil-borne pests and illnesses. Finally, it's an excellent method to display your plants and keep them close at hand.
Like other plants, container-grown vegetables can be vulnerable to pests and illnesses. Using clean containers and selecting disease-resistant types of plants and soil may assist to avoid difficulties. Be on the lookout for pests in your plants.
Tips For Watering Container Plants
Healthy plants are ensured by excellent watering, feeding and upkeep techniques. What is really nice about container planting is that you can purchase water gauges that tell you if the soil needs to be watered.
These can be straightforward gauges or they can accent your décor in the form of birds that sing when your plant needs water!
It is also best to make sure you have the proper drainage hole in your container garden. Good drainage is essential to avoid problems such as root rot in shallow rooted plants as well as plants with long root systems.
Sunlight Consideration For Container Gardening
Other potted plant care notes include appropriate light. If the afternoon sun is too harsh in southern or western exposures, a shade cloth may be needed to protect vegetables cultivated on terraces.
Depending on the type of plant, warm patios may be suitable for vegetables that thrive in high temperatures. Also making sure your plants are placed in a sunny and warm place where they can get partial sun to direct sunlight.
Make sure you know what kind of sun your plant needs before putting it right into a full sun location.
Summary For Container Gardening With Vegetables
- Your choice of container for vegetables is critical to the success of your gardening. Plan for how big your plants will be at maturity and choose the appropriate size container
- Containers need to have drainage holes in the bottom so water doesn't collect
- For ease of movement, buy pot stands with wheels on the bottom so you can move those containers around your patio or deck easily, or allow them to come inside to be sheltered indoors if the weather changes drastically
- Choose the best potting soil for growing vegetables in pots. You can easily purchase online and have it delivered right to your door
- There is no need to place anything in the pot's bottom, such as pebbles or bits of shattered pottery, proper potting soil is adequate for proper drainage in pots
- What is really nice about container planting is that you can purchase water gauges that tell you if the soil needs to be watered
Here are some other questions people are asking about patio gardening in containers:
Which vegetables do well in containers?
Vegetables that do very well in containers include tomatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, spinach, green onions and cucumbers, but there are many vegetables that you can try! Just make sure you have enough room for them to grow and get the proper nutrients and water.
How deep to containers need to be to grow vegetables?
Depending on the vegetable you are planting, you will need anywhere from 6 - 12 inches of depth (for example, lettuce) to deep pots for root vegetables like carrots.
What soil to use for growing vegetables in containers?
Grab a bag of potting soil that has a slow release fertilizer in it. These soils are made to have proper drainage specifically for container gardening.
What vegetables can I grow in 1 gallon pots?
Vegetables with smaller root systems grow well in 1 gallon containers. There include lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, beans and peas.
Is it safe to grow vegetables in plastic containers?
If you want to use plastic containers for growing vegetables for their price and light weight, make sure you buy plastic containers that are made specifically for growing plants. Don't just use any plastic containers from around the house like Rubbermaid's. Plastic pots for vegetables should be BPA-free.
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