A Complete Guide to Vegetable Container Gardening for Beginners
For many people, container gardening is the best way to start a garden.
If you live in an apartment and have no room to garden, for example, container gardening could be your only way to grow plants. If you live in a location where your dirt is terrible, container gardening could be what you need to enjoy fresh vegetables.
For everyone else, container gardening is still a great alternative to grow their garden.
But there are things you need to understand when deciding to container garden. Here is what you need to know to grow a container garden successfully:
Why Container Gardening?
I’ve mentioned a couple of scenarios above where container gardening is an ideal option. However, there are other reasons to container garden as well:
1. Saves Water
When you water an entire garden, you need a lot of water. Whether you are trying to preserve water to lead a greener lifestyle, or if you are working with limited water supplies, container gardening is a good option.
2. Produces Healthy Plants
If you grow a container garden, you’ll see creating the perfect growing environment becomes much easier for a container than for a larger garden.
In turn, this produces healthier plants. This is great for you because it makes gardening much easier.
3. Good Family Bonding
Because container gardening simplifies the gardening process, it shouldn’t be a surprise that kids love it.
With this in mind, container gardening could be a great way to bond as a family. The kids will enjoy their growing success and healthy veggies while you get to share knowledge and enjoy quality time.
4. Fewer Pest Issues
You can move container gardens around easily. This makes life difficult for pests and disease which equates to safety for your garden.
Therefore, you could enjoy gardening more instead of spending a large amount of time battling things who want to kill your garden.
5. Sunlight isn’t a Problem
If you have lots of shady areas in your yard which makes planting a traditional garden difficult, you’ll enjoy container gardening.
Container gardening gives you the freedom to move your garden around as needed to meet the sun. If you thought gardening was out of the question in the past because of lack of sunlight, container gardening just gave you a new option.
6. Perfect Growing Conditions
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s easier to provide perfect growing conditions for a container. You can add perfect soil to your pots and move them to the perfect locations to meet their needs.
Also, because they’re in pots, you make it difficult for pests and diseases to overtake them as well. This equates to perfect growing conditions.
Finally, container gardening is convenient. It’s convenient to care for your plants and convenient to harvest from them too.
What You Can Grow in a Container Garden
Container gardening is a compact way of producing an adequate harvest. Many people don’t container garden because they don’t realize what options they even have for it. Here is what you can grow in your container garden:
- Green beans
- Certain corn varieties
- Dwarf fruit trees
If you are new to gardening altogether, growing something like herbs or lettuce would be a good place to start.
However, if you’ve been growing vegetables or fruits for a while, you might want to advance to growing your own peppers and tomatoes too.
Here are more plants to grow in a container.
How to Choose the Right Containers
One of the most vital steps in finding success when container gardening is to pick the appropriate pot. The most common pot sizes range from 10 inches in diameter to 24 inches in diameter.
If you choose to go with a 24-inch pot, use it for larger vegetables like squash plants or pepper plants.
However, if you choose to go with a smaller pot (such as a 14-inch diameter pot) you’d want to use this size for plants such as herbs or a small head of cabbage.
You can use these two examples to figure out what vegetables would be appropriate in which size pot.
But you’ll still need to consider which type of pot of you’ll buy once you’ve figured out the appropriate size needed. Here are your pot varieties:
Terracotta pots are the most common pots used by most gardeners. Though they are traditional, they have their downfalls.
These pots can be expensive to purchase, especially as you purchase the larger options. They can also be heavy to maneuver and are breakable as well.
There are some pots made of glazed ceramic. These pots are usually less expensive than terracotta but still carry a decently sized price tag with them.
Glazed ceramic is durable and comes in cool colors. Yet, they can be heavy as well and difficult to move around if you need to.
Plastic is a great option if you are needing to start a container garden on a budget. They are durable and inexpensive too.
Not to mention, they are also easy to move around if you need to move your garden based on sunlight needs.
Many people like wooden containers because of their classic appearance. They add a gorgeous look to your container garden with little effort.
However, wooden containers can be hard to move when left sitting in the same location for a longer period.
If you are looking for a durable planter, you should consider concrete planters. They will last for quite a while.
But because these planters are made from concrete they will need to be placed in a permanent location. They will be extremely difficult to move once placed.
There are many gorgeous metal planters. They are a great way to add some beauty to your container garden.
However, the metal will conduct heat. Therefore, metal planters need to be lined with plastic or they’ll cook the roots of your plants.
7. Window Boxes
Finally, window boxes are a great option for container garden planters. You can attach them to your windows or simply stack them.
Either way, they can give a gorgeous look to your home while also being functional.
Planting a Container Garden
Just because you know the steps to planting a normal inground garden, doesn’t mean you’re prepared to plant a container garden. Here is what you need to know:
1. Pick the Right Pot
I’ve listed above your different options for materials and size when choosing containers for your garden. Consider what you’ll be planting in your garden and make sure you choose the right size pot.
Also, be sure to place your container garden in the right location where it will get the proper amount of sun for what you’re growing.
2. Cover the Holes
After choosing the correct pot and putting it in the proper location, make sure the pot has drainage holes.
If it doesn’t, use a drill and add a few in the bottom. This will ensure the plants don’t get water logged. When the pot has holes, be sure to cover them with wire mesh or a coffee filter to keep dirt in but allow water to seep out.
3. Fill it Up
Choose a quality soil to fill your containers with. Make sure the dirt is rich and fluffy. The fluffier the soil is the better aerated. This matter because this will impact how well the soil drains.
Keep in mind, you will only want to fill the pot half way or three-quarters full. Be sure to break up any crumbles in the dirt while filling the pot.
Once the dirt is in the container, it’s time to plant your vegetables. Place the plant on top of the dirt. You don’t need to dig down into the dirt or press on the plant to put it further in the pot.
Instead, just place the plant in the pot and move on to the next step.
5. Add More Soil
When the plant is in place, add more soil to cover the roots and finish filling up the pot. Be careful not to compress the dirt.
This won’t help the plant, but instead compact the dirt which will impact how well the soil drains.
6. Mulch It
Finally, add a layer of mulch around the plant when the pot is filled with dirt. This will help the plant to be able to retain moisture.
Tips for Your Container Garden
Since you are almost ready to plant a container garden, I wanted to take the time to give you a few bonus tips to help your container garden thrive:
1. Water Daily
Container gardens aren’t able to hold moisture as well as traditional gardens. For this reason, you’ll need to check your plants daily and give them water if needed.
Also, you could choose to add a self-watering bulb or a drip irrigation system, if your containers are close together. Don’t forget about self-watering pots as well.
2. Fertilize as Frequently as Needed
When you plant your container garden, the dirt should have some fertilizer already in it. This should hold your plants over for a while.
However, pay close attention to the needs of your plant and add fertilizer as frequently as needed to keep your plants healthy and well fed.
3. Keep the Soil Aerated
I mentioned this above in the planting section, but keep the soil fluffy and aerated instead of pressed down.
The reason is aerated soil drains while compressed soil doesn’t. You want your soil to drain well for optimum plant health.
4. Add a Trellis
Finally, if you grow a vegetable which likes to sprawl out or has heavy fruit, consider adding a trellis when necessary. This will keep the plant contained and supported, which adds to overall plant health and production.
Well, you now know the container gardening basics. You should be able to start a container garden and have great success with it.
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