With times as they are now, many people are wanting to start growing their own vegetables. But, they only have a balcony or patio. Many vegetables can be grown in containers! There are many reasons why growing in containers is actually easier than growing in the ground.
There are fewer pests such as grubs, snails, slugs and many more. Pests are easier to control in containers. It’s easy to provide a soil blend that fits the needs of each type of vegetable. The containers can easily be moved to fit the cultural needs such as sun and shade. Growing in containers is not as labor intensive. It’s fun to mix different vegetables with like needs in one container. Plant the taller ones in the center or to the back of the container and shorter ones in front. Best of all, you can try new and different vegetables, the ones you can’t readily get in the grocery store.
What to Consider
The amount of sunlight is the most important thing to consider. Most vegetables need between 4-6 hours of sunlight a day. If there isn’t enough sunlight, many of our favorite vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and melons can’t be grown. The best location is a south-facing spot but if that isn’t available, shade-lovers like lettuce and spinach can be grown.
Be aware that containers will need more water than in-ground gardens. They can be hand watered or a drip system can easily be set up.
How to Pick Containers
I prefer terra cotta containers but they do dry out quickly. Wood is an attractive alternative but it will rot. Be sure not to use pressure treated wood. I also like using wine casks but they can be expensive. I don’t like plastic containers but they are cheap, retain water better and are long lasting. I do recycle the plastic pots that nursery plants come in. I have a very large nursery pot that I grow potatoes in.
What Soil to Use
I use organic potting soil and it works well. Choose a soil that is well-drained, retains water and a pH close to neutral. I don’t use garden soil in my containers. Garden soil will compact in containers, leading to poor drainage and air circulation.
Good Choices for Container Gardens
Tomatoes: Patio Princess, Bushsteak, Sweetheart of the Patio, Marglobe, Baxter’s Bush Cherry, Sweet Baby Girl, Gardener’s Delight, Stupice, Tumbling Tom Yellow
Radish: Cherry Belle, Icicle, Champion, Scarlet Globe
Squaash: Scallopini, Baby Crookneck, Creamy, Golden Nugget, Gold Rush, most zucchinis
This article was written by Patti Berryhill, Garden Manager at Living Classroom. Patti has been working with Living Classroom for 6 years. She holds a Bachelor's of Science in Agriculture and an Associate's Degree in Environmental Horticulture and Design. In addition to working with Living Classroom, Patti owns a landscaping business.