Potted Vegetable Gardens – The Vegetables That Move With You
Growing your vegetables in containers can be a great approach to a kitchen garden if you are living in an apartment or other home which has limited outdoor space. You don't have to put hundreds of square feet under the plough to be an effective gardener. You can easily grow simple (or more exotic) vegetables to lessen your carbon footprint and give yourself great tasting vegetables to boot. Container Gardens are a great way to start off as a gardener too – they are easy to move about to maximise sunlight exposure and they move with you if you need to move house. Smaller container gardens are also less prone to disease (although not exempt so keep your eyes peeled) and require less maintenance.
Advantages of Container Gardening
Containers are easier to move about, and they are also good for those people who have reduced mobility. They can be placed anywhere from a balcony to a kitchen window sill. Containers make pest management easier and they are also a great way to introduce children to gardening and creating a kitchen garden. Planting out your vegetables into containers can let you put your toe into the vegetable growing pool – are you really going to dig up a square of your lawn to test run a vege patch? This will let you get a feel for gardening with minimal time and cost for the initial outlay.
By planting out in containers you also get to control your soil more effectively – the quality of your soil is what you place into the container. Pots also give good drainage to your vegetables – they aren't going to be drowning in soggy poor draining soil in your yard. You can water pots more effectively too – and its a lot less time consuming.
How To Start Your Potted Vegetable Garden
1. Choose Your Container
You can plant vegetables in everything from a bucket with drainage holes to the fanciest ceramic pot you can buy but what you need to think about is the weight, cost and how frequently you will have to water. If you need to move your container about, how heavy is it going to be when laden down by damp soil and your growing vegetables? If you plant out your veges in terracotta pots they may look lovely, but they will also dry out more quickly. Terracotta will draw moisture away from your plants and will require more frequent watering. Consider your budget. Remember that you may need to buy pest control, mulch and fertilizer as well as water your plants over the life of your garden and you need to factor these in when choosing what you will spend on your containers. You should also consider your drainage. Are you going to buy pots that sit on a tray? Punch a few holes into a bucket and let it all drain out? Buy a container which holds the excess water in a concealed tray under the plant? There are so many options you are sure to find something that suits you.
Bigger is better when planting vegetables in containers. There are a few rules of thumb when you are planting out vegetables for the more popular crops you may want to start with.
- Tomatoes should be in a pot with a diameter 16-22"
- Peppers should be in a pot about 16"
- Crops which grow on a vine in a minimum of a 20" pot
- Herbs will grow in anything 4-6"
- Salad greens 16" or larger depending on the number you want to grow
There are a variety of potting mixes available, but choose the best quality that you can afford. Potting mixes are often designed to specifically support a type of plant such as orchids, citrus etc. and you should find one which will support your vegetables. They contain speific nutrients and their composition will be best suited for vegetables. If you have trouble selecting your potting soil talk to someone at your local nursery. A typical potting mix for vegetables will consist of sphagnum peat moss or compost, vermiculite (and/or perlite) and soil. These will tend to hold the water and nutrients more effectively.
Plant whatever you like! Think about the eventual size of your vegetable plants when planning out your garden. You should also consider that your garden is going to grow up as well as out. Some easy combinations are:
- Salad garden – cucumber, tomatoe, lettuce, scallion
- Pesto garden – parsley, two types of flat leaf basil, garlic
Make sure that your garden is in a position to get at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If you need to keep your pots moving about castors are a great way to keep your pots of growing vegetables mobile. Make sure that you keep your pots moist and dont let them dry out. Keep an eye on your plants for pests and diseases and treat promptly. If possible, isolate the affected pot. Use a quality organic fertilizer as per the instructions and mulch your pots regularly.
You should be harvesting fresh vegetables before too long straight out of your containers. While a few containers may not be adequate to meet all of your vegetable needs they are a great way to get started with a kitchen garden and can inspire you to supplement your diet with healthy fresh vegetables every year with a kitchen garden.