Vegetable container gardening can bring joy and bounty. The simple pleasure of biting into a tomato still warm from the sun, picked and eaten on the spot, is almost unbeatable. You can grow just about any vegetable in a container garden and you can also save serious bucks by growing your own vegetable container gardens.
Picking a Spot for Your Vegetable Container Garden
Most vegetables grown in a vegetable container garden do best in full sun with at least 6 hours of direct sun a day. Tomatoes and peppers stay healthiest in an open spot with plenty of air circulation. If you live in a cold climate, you can give your vegetable container garden a head start by placing the pots near a south-facing wall.
If you live in a warmer part of the country, be cautious about setting your vegetable container gardens on a solid stone or concrete underground, which may grow too warm for optimum growth. Put larger containers on dollies or carts so you can move them to various locations depending on the conditions at the time.
Which Containers to Use
Most vegetables aren’t fussy about what kind of vegetable container garden they grow in. The only basic requirements is that the vegetable container garden is large enough to hold the plant and that it has drainage holes so excess water can escape. When it comes to size, the bigger the pot is, the better.
Some vegetables need particularly large pots to grow in a vegetable container garden. Standard-size tomatoes and vining crops, such as cucumbers, will do best in containers at least 40 cm across. Peppers like pots of at least 30 cm in diameter. However, most will still grow in a 20 liter or larger container.
Plants that grow tall or produce vines, like tomatoes and cucumbers will be more productive if grown with a support in a vegetable container garden. A wire cage, inserted into the container at planting time, will do. Use larger, heavier containers for trellised plants to minimize the risk of tipping.
While your vegetables aren’t too fussy about the kind of pot they’re in, they do care about the potting soil in your vegetable container garden. As is the case with most other types of gardens, your vegetable container garden will do best in potting mixes. You could save money by blending your own vegetable container garden mix. Use equal parts of peat moss, potting soil, and vermiculite/perlite, and clean sand. Fill the containers to about 5 cm of the rim.
How to Plant Vegetables in Containers
Plant your vegetable container gardens the same time you would plant in the garden. Depending on what types of vegetable you want to grow, you can start seeds in your containers, grow transplants from seeds started indoors, or purchase transplants from a garden center. Regardless of whether you are planting seeds or transplants, thoroughly water the container before you plant. Soak the potting mix completely, then allow it to sit for a few hours to drain excess water.
Plant seeds according to the package directions. Because not all seeds will germinate, plant more than you need, then thin the excess later. After planting, water gently but thoroughly to settle the seeds or transplants. Keep the soil in your vegetable container garden from drying out as fast by mulching with straw, compost, leaf mold, or a similar material.
Time to Harvest
Harvesting is always the most satisfying step. Pick your vegetable container gardening crops as soon as they reach a size where you will enjoy them. Most vegetables are more productive if you harvest early and often. Letting plants “go to seed” will often cause a drop in fruit set but does supply you with seeds for the next growing season.