Photo found on Flickr, courtesy of Maggie Hoffman.
Organic foods are becoming an increasingly important part of our diet. However, finding organic foods can be somewhat difficult, and the cost is usually higher and may not fit everyone’s budget. Consider growing your own organic foods as a way to spend less and still get the healthy addition to your diet.
Container gardening works extremely well for those with limited space or for someone without the time and skills to invest in the work required for a full size garden.
Growing vegetables in containers is actually quite easy, and almost anything that you would normally grow in a garden can be planted in containers. Carrots, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes can be grown, as well as many types of herbs. Certain vegetables with long vines, or that are exceptionally large will need a pretty large container, so take this into consideration when choosing your vegetables.
Choosing the correct container is important. All of your vegetables will require proper drainage, so choose containers that allow for this. Adding an inch of gravel to the bottom will assist the draining process and improve the life of your container garden.
Size of the container is important as well. A five gallon size pot works well for most vegetables, but some smaller ones such as carrots and beans can grow in a window box or smaller pot. Containers should also be sturdy. Try to avoid terra cotta pots. Vegetables in containers require lots of watering and terra cotta tends to absorb moisture and can crack and break over time. Plastic pots work fine and will last longer.
If you’re going to grow organic food, then it’s important to start with organic seeds, or use organic seedlings. Organic seeds and seedling are processed and grown without pesticides, and will guarantee that you container garden is 100% organic. Choose organic potting soil as well, and if possible, find an organic soil that helps retain water.
These soils prevent your container garden from drying out too fast and require less watering. Organic potting soils have the label “OMRI.” This non profit group is a watchdog for organic products and certifies your soil is organic. Start your seedlings in a recycled container such as old milk cartons. Most seedlings need about six weeks to grow before they are read for planting.
Plant your seedlings carefully and follow the spacing guidelines on the seed packet. If you are planting more than one type of vegetable in a single container, be sure to match the amount of sunlight each one requires. One of the benefits of container gardens is that you can move the pots to get more shade or sunlight if needed.
Container gardens require watering more often than a traditional garden. Check your plants daily in warm weather, most likely you will need to water each day to keep your garden growing. Avoid the use of pesticides in your containers. Try eco friendly options such as netting, or try spraying a 25/75 mixture of dish soap and water. Bugs hate the taste of soap, but it won’t kill your vegetables!
Again, follow the guidelines on the seed packet for harvest times, as these will vary between the different vegetables. Enjoy the bounty of your healthy harvest by using other organic ingredients to prepare your vegetables, and add your vegetable waste into a compost bin. The dirt created from the bin can then be reused in your containers!
Growing an organic container garden is easy with the right seeds, soil, water and container. It’s good for the environment, and even better for you!