Photo found on Flickr, courtesy of Maggie Hoffman.
With all the recent health scares concerning fresh vegetables, growing your own is the way to go. No matter how much space you don’t have you can still grow a garden by using containers. Whether you live in an apartment or just don’t have the time for a big garden, containers are the fix. You’ll be surprised at just how easy it is to grow fresh vegetables. In no time you’ll be enjoying your harvest and be the envy of your neighbors and friends.
There’s nothing better than fresh vegetables. The ones you purchase at your local grocery store have been picked unripe so they’ll last through shipping. Picking a vegetable such as a tomato when it’s unripe, never allows it to reach full maturity. The number one thing that will be missing is the taste. Why pay big dollars for this item when you can grow it yourself.
Container gardening is easy. It’s also healthier because you’ll know exactly what chemicals your vegetables have been treated with. There will be no more guessing as to whether your food is safe to eat or not. Once you’ve tasted your own crop you’ll be hooked. You will no longer be satisfied with the plastic variety sold at the store.
Listed below are some simple tips to get started. Before you know it you’ll be harvesting your own vegetables. This is also a great project to get the kids involved with. You’ll be surprised at what they will eat if they’ve helped in the growing process. This is not only a healthy project it’s also fun, economical and good to eat.
*Containers – 3-7 or 10 gallon containers work the best
*Slow release fertilizer
*Water soluble fertilizer
First you’ll want to pick a spot that receives sunlight. It’s not necessary for the container to receive full sunlight all day long, but an ample amount is needed for your plants to grow properly. Too little light with hamper the plants growing process and may eventually lead to rot.
Choose your container. It’s not necessary to spend a bunch of money on this. If you don’t have a few extra pots lying around, check with your local plant nursery. They generally will have extra containers that their plants were shipped in. These aren’t fancy, but will suit your purpose just fine.
You probably can get a few of these free of charge or for pennies. Whatever container you choose, just make sure it has proper drainage. The last thing you want is to find your plant rotting because the water in your container didn’t drain properly.
Size does matter. A three gallon container will generally suit one plant such as a tomato or pepper just fine. If you’d like to plant several vegetables together, choose a bigger container such as a 7 or 10 gallon. This will give each plant the room it needs to grow properly. The more plants you want to add, the bigger the container. The size of your container garden can be endless. The trick is using a container big enough to host everyone.
If you’re looking to grow tomatoes, there are varieties that are small enough to live in a hanging basket. Tiny Tim or Sweet 100’s, make perfect choices to plant in a hanging basket. There is no need to stake them as their foliage will vine downward and be perfectly fine. Of course these varieties of tomato are small, but their taste can’t be beat.
Once you’ve planned where the vegetables will grow and picked out your plants and containers, you’re now ready to start planting. Let the fun begin.
Fill the container 3/4 full of potting mix. Potting soil is not recommended because it has a tendency to be too dense and retain too much water. If this is what you are using, make sure to add a lightener such as vermiculite or sphagnum moss. This should lighten the soil allowing it to drain properly.
Add a correct amount of slow release fertilizer to the soil and mix well. Make a small indentation in the center of the pot that’s big enough for the plant to fit into. Place your vegetable into the hole and cover with more soil. You’ll want to leave about two inches from the top of the pot soil free. This will help alleviate a mess when watering.
Once you’ve planted your vegetable into the container make sure to water it well. Be sure to check your soil daily. In the hotter months it will probably be necessary to water daily. If the soil looks dry it’s time to water. On average you probably should make sure the plant is fully watered at least every other day.
Using a water soluble fertilizer once a week will help your plant maintain all the nutrients it needs to produce good foliage and blooms. Since this type of fertilizer breaks down with watering, there’s no chance in burning the plant. When planting in a container, granular types of fertilizer should be avoided.
If planting tomatoes, you can place a tomato cage directing into the container. This will help your plants remain upright when they are heavily laden with fruit. If you’re using a larger container, planting vining vegetables such as cucumbers with your upright plants, will give you more bang for your buck. While one is taking up the higher space, the other will be utilizing the space left below.
The vegetables you can grow are endless. It’s not only easy and economical, but the taste of fresh produce can’t be beat. Don’t let the space you don’t have keep you from gardening. If you’ve got a little sunlight and a spot to keep a container, you can grow a garden. Before long your friends and neighbors will be knocking on your door wanting to know if you have a spare tomato they can have.