There is nothing quite as tasty as fresh garden produce. Container gardening for kitchen plants is one way that folks who have limited growing space can enjoy fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables.
Kitchen Container Garden Site and Crop Selection
The size of the container and the amount of available sunshine are two of the main factors that will affect your container kitchen garden. If you have enough sunshine, you can grow a wide variety of herbs, as well as strawberries, dwarf fruit trees, blueberries, melons, beans, carrots, chard, lettuce, kale, cucumber, peas, peppers, potatoes, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, onions, okra and tomatoes.
Tomatoes and peppers can also be easily grown in hanging upside down bags such as those seen on television. The plants extend from the bottom of the bag (buckets with a hole punched in the bottom to accommodate the plant stem work too) and grown upside down.
When choosing the site for a container kitchen garden, consider the type of plants you want to grow. It is important to choose a site that has ample sunlight.
How to Choose Containers for Kitchen Gardens
Choose containers that are large enough to accommodate mature plants. It is easy to under estimate the final size of mature plants, so think big!
Terra Cotta Containers
The type of container is also important. If you like to fuss and water daily, you may get away with terra cotta pots. However, the fact that they are quite porous allows them to dry out quickly, so they are not necessarily the best choice.
Rot Resistant Containers
Containers made from a rot-resistant wood (or wood that has been treated) provide good water retention. Wooden containers will winter outdoors, but it is best to keep them off of the ground.
Metal containers tend to get hot and cause the plant roots to bake in the pot. These may work better in cooler climates or for growing early spring or fall plants.
Pots made of synthetic materials such as resin and fiberglass are fast becoming very popular because they look good, resist frost, are lightweight and they conserve moisture.
In general, light-colored containers are generally best because they soak up less heat from the beating sun.
Container Kitchen Garden Growing Tips
1. The planting medium is an important factor in container gardening. The soil needs to drain to prevent the roots from rotting. If you purchase soil, potting soil is better than garden soil because it contains perlite or vermiculite to promote drainage.
2. A helpful tip to consider when potting your plants is the addition of shredded newspaper at the bottom of the containers. This helps reduce the soil loss through the drainage holes.
3. Companion planting works well with container gardens. Try planting a tomato surrounded by herb plants or leafy salad vegetables. Mixing and matching plants makes an attractive container garden. Some herbs are known to repel certain insects, so combining plants can lessen the chance of a bug infestation.
4. If you plan to include dwarf fruit trees in your container garden, be sure that you varieties that hardy for your climate zone. Make sure the ones you select are dwarf varieties or your tree will quickly outgrow your container.
Once your container garden is planted and growing, you can sit back, relax and bask in its beauty until it is time to harvest those fresh fruits and veggies. Your garden will be the envy of all your neighbors, especially those who tilling lots of ground in the hot, beating sun.
Interested in more information about container gardens?
Colorado State has a wealth of information about container gardening, and Texas AgriLife Extension Service has vegetable container gardening pdf with plenty of container gardening information as well.
Visit this site from the University of Florida to learn more about growing fruit crops in containers.