A Beginner’s Guide to Container Vegetable Gardening
Container gardening is a useful method of growing both edibles and ornamentals when you have little or no yard, have compromised soil, or you simply enjoy the freedom to move your plants from place to place. It is an ideal technique for those in urban situations such as apartments. One of the biggest bonuses to container gardening is that you get to skip the backbreaking work of weeding and amending soil!
Container gardening can include traditional pots, window boxes, hanging baskets, or little planters in a window sill. Get creative with your space and experiment with different placement options such as on a balcony or porch, around a deck, or even on a rooftop.
Gather Your Gear
Very little gear is needed for container gardening. Standard gardening tools include gloves, a trowel, and a hand fork. For larger plants that require pruning, a good pair of shears or kitchen scissors are helpful. Always keep your tools clean and blades sharp for easy cutting. Another important thing you will need is potting mix, which is available at any nursery or home improvement store.
Use potting soil rather than soil from the ground, as potting soil has water retentive elements (such as peat moss or vermiculite), is free from weeds or disease, and contains a balance of nutrients ideal for plants. Most potting soils are ”soil-less.” Some are specific for seed starting, or acidified for specialty plants, but many are all purpose and are suitable for most types of containers and plants.
Pick Your Plants
Many edible plants can be grown in containers. Potted herbs are a popular choice and can be placed in a sunny window or even on a patio. Herbs are compact so they can easily be grown in a small space. Try chives, mint, basil, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, and more! You can even grow fruit trees in containers. Dwarf varieties of trees such as orange, fig, apple, and pear can (with some effort) grow in large containers.
These usually need to be protected or brought inside during the winter. Strawberries are another fruit easily grown in a pot; there are even special terra cotta pots with holes in them that are widely available. If vegetables are what you want, try greens such as arugala, lettuces, swiss chard, and spinach. Smaller varieties of tomatoes, peas, pole beans, bush zucchini, and peppers can also be grown successfully with some staking or trellis for them to climb.