Container gardening is the ideal solution for anybody who loves the taste of fresh vegetables but lacks the space for a vegetable garden. As long as you get at least six hours of sunlight each day, you can be successful raising vegetables plants in containers. This guide will teach you the basics of growing vegetables in pots, from preparing the soil to the final harvest.
How to Grow Vegetables in Containers
Many gardeners have been growing flowers in containers for years, but did you know that you can successfully raise vegetables in containers as well? As long as you get at least six hours of sunlight each day, you can raise your own vegetables on the patio or balcony and get a surprisingly large crop. You just need to be aware of a few basics before you start.
First, you must choose the right sort of container. Although you may be tempted to use any sort of container that is big enough, it is important to choose one that has good drainage at the bottom and that is not made from any toxic materials. You wouldn’t want your vegetables to absorb any toxins, would you? If the container you choose does not have drainage holes at the bottom, you can remedy this with a drill.
Next, you need to get some good soil. You might want to use soil that comes straight out of the garden, but this is not a good idea. Garden soil often has various insect pests and micro-organisms that can cause problems for your plants. In addition, garden soil will become compacted when used in a container, because of the frequent watering that plants in containers require. It is far better to start out with sterilized potting soil purchased from a garden center. Commercial potting soil will be a lot lighter and provide better drainage than dirt from your garden. You can improve the potting soil even more by adding peat moss and compost to it.
When you grow vegetables in containers, you will have to fertilize them. Plants grown in containers need to be watered frequently, and the frequent watering washes away nutrients in the soil. If you add a timed-release fertilizer to your soil when you fill the containers, you won’t need to worry about fertilizing your plants for the rest of the season. If you do not use timed-release fertilizer, you can add diluted liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Choose a fertilizer that is balanced, or especially made for vegetables. A fertilizer that contains too much nitrogen in relation to the potassium and phosphorous will encourage a lot of leaves, but the vegetables will be small in size.
When you choose the kinds of vegetables to plant in your containers, keep in mind that the size of the container will limit how large the roots can grow. Tomatoes, cabbages, beans, onions, radishes, potatoes, and small cucumbers can be grown very successfully in containers. It is best to start with very healthy bedding plants in early spring. Wait until there is no danger of frost in your area before you plant them.
To plant your vegetables, make a hole in the surface of the dirt in the container that is at least twice as large as the root ball. Separate the plant roots slightly with your finger so they will spread out once they are planted, but do not disturb the soil that clings to the roots too much. Place the bedding plants in the hole you have created so they are slightly lower than the level they were originally. Start filling the hole and cover up the plant roots. Press down with your fingers to anchor the plant firmly in place. Tomatoes should be planted deeper so that several inches of the stem are covered by dirt. The tomato will send out new roots from the part of the stem that is buried under the soil. Once the container is planted, water the plants thoroughly to ensure the roots get wet and the plant has a good start. At this time, add some liquid fertilizer to the water to give the plant a good start.
For the first few days, it is a good idea to keep the newly transplanted vegetables out of strong sunlight until they become adjusted to their new home. After a couple of days have gone by, move them out into their permanent location where they will enjoy the sun and reward you with tasty vegetables at harvest time.