Edible Container Gardening in 8 Easy Steps

Edible Container Gardening in Eight Easy Steps

Nothing tastes quite as good as homegrown vegetables, fruits and herbs picked fresh from your garden. Not everyone has the space and/or time for a big garden. An increasing number of people living in townhouses, condos, and apartments have discovered how to enjoy growing edibles in containers.

container gardeningFirst; Choosing the Plants: some tried and true vegetables suitable for containers include tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplants, cucumbers and so on. No matter what you decide to grow it is a good idea to look for varieties that include names like bush, dwarf, compact, container as these smaller types will perform well in pots. Grow what you eat. Even carrots can be grown in pots—choose dwarf varieties like “mignon” or “parmex”. Edible flowers such as nasturtiums, calendulas, pansies and borage grow well in containers. Favourite herbs such as basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, mint, and lemon balm are great container edibles to grow outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter for fresh herbs year round. Container growing of fruits such as strawberries, mini pineapples, bananas, and figs.

Second; The Right Container: the bigger the pot the better, bearing in mind what you can lift or have room for. Before choosing think about the plant’s size when full-grown or depth needed if a root crop. More productive plants such as tomatoes, bush beans and squash need deeper and larger pots. Be sure the pot has drain holes before filling. There are many types of containers available to choose from including terra cotta, plastic, resin, wooden or ceramic. Do not crowd the plants, thus the right number of plants in the right size pot. Overplanting results in weak harvest and dead plants. Respect spacing needs as per seed packages. Thin out as required especially for edibles such as carrots.

Third; The Proper Soil Mix: Use a potting soil and never a topsoil. Do not use the moisture-retention soils which are now available, for your edible gardens. These soils are great for containers but not for edible container gardening. The moisture retention beads can be poisonous in edibles. Topsoil and garden soils become compacted in containers and do not allow plants in the soil to breathe. Potting soil and soilless potting mix is lighter and airier and allows excess water to escape so roots do not become water-logged.

Fourth; The Right Location: Vegetables, fruits and herbs need at least six hours of sun a day. Place containers in accessible sunny locations.

Fifth; Care and Harvest: Vegetables and all edibles need regular watering. Check your plants by testing the surface of the soil to see if it is dry. You may need to water once a day or more often especially as roots grow, the fruit develops and summer days become hotter. Terra cotta pots wick moisture from the soil more than other materials, so water these containers of edibles more often. Although plants should be kept consistently moist, do not over-water them.

Sixth; Keep a Watch on the Weather: Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants do not like the cold and will not tolerate even a light frost. Wait to plant until all danger of frost has past in the spring and use frost protective materials when a late frost or an early fall frost threatens. Certain other crops such as lettuce, peas and cabbage enjoy the cold and can be started outside in April.

Seventh; Pests: Watch for pests throughout the growing season as potted plants are just as susceptible to pests as those grown in the ground. Utilize companion planting within the container for pest control.

Eighth; Plant Food: When fertilizing use plant food specifically formulated for vegetables/edibles. Consider using organic fish emulsion, kelp or seaweed fertilizers.

container gardening