Container gardening has exploded in recent years. People everywhere want to have access to fresh produce and save money on groceries, but not everyone has the yard space to put in a garden. Even if you only have a small patio or deck, you can still grow plenty of fresh, organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables in that small space.
Herbs are the easiest plants to grow in pots, and you will have year-round access to those fresh, vibrant flavors because you can move the small pots of herbs from your patio or deck to the kitchen windowsill. You will find that freshly grown herbs have much better flavor than those supposedly fresh herbs you can purchase at the grocery store. The same goes for the fruits and vegetables you can grow in containers. And since you will know exactly what goes into growing them, you control what is put on your plants.
There are a few things you will need to think of when deciding whether to put in a container garden, though. First, does your deck or patio get enough sunlight? As long as it is not situated facing north (in the Northern Hemisphere), then it should get enough sunlight for your plants to grow. Of course, south-facing exposure is ideal. Second, what plants are you wanting to grow? This will affect the third consideration, which is: How much space do you have with which to work? The type of plants and the space you have to work with will determine the types and number of containers you will use for your garden.
Many websites will encourage you to use a specific container to grow a specific type of plant but, truthfully, I’ve used everything from empty butter tubs to high-end pots, and they all work the same. As long as they hold soil so that the plant can grow and you add a couple of holes in the bottom so you don’t end up over-watering, you’re pretty much good to go.
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Any plant that grows in the ground can be grown in containers, and you don’t even have to use the “dwarf” plants that have been developed for limited-space gardening. You might want to steer away from pumpkins or corn, since they’ll not give you the harvest you want in containers, but nearly all other fruits and vegetables can be grown in your container garden.
Common Herbs Grown in Containers
Containers for these herbs will need to have between 6 and 12 inches of soil depth. Many of these herbs can be grown together so long as the container is large enough. If you do plant different herbs together, remember you’ll need equal space inside so that you can move the container there during the cold months.
Common Vegetables Grown in Containers
Containers for vegetables will need to have between 6 and 18 inches of soil depth. Leaf plants like lettuce and spinach don’t need very deep soil, while tomatoes will need the larger soil depth. Root vegetables, with the exception of potatoes, need between 12 and 14 inches soil depth. Your plants will get root-bound if the container isn’t large enough and they won’t grow the produce you are wanting to harvest.
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Remember that cucumbers and squash are vine plants; they will need a little room to sprawl so that they can properly grow. You will also need to invest in tomato cages for your tomato plants to keep the vine from bending and breaking with the weight of the fruit.
Common Fruits Grown in Containers
Containers for these plants should be about the same size as the container from which you are transplanting. Many websites say not to grow blackberries in containers, but there are thorn-less varieties available, so grow those blackberries!
Some fruit plants may need some form of support, although you won’t want to use a tomato cage; a trellis or something similar will work for the bushes and vines to grow on. There are special pots developed for growing strawberries in containers, and I have to admit that those are the best I’ve found. Strawberries have the added advantage of growing best in hanging baskets. If you don’t have anywhere to hang your strawberries, though, you need to remember that they are invasive and will send out runners anywhere they can reach soil. This could have the effect of strangling other plants you are trying to grow. But this also means that you have ready-made starters for a new pot of strawberries. Just carefully remove the runner, prune it off the main plant and gently transplant it to a new pot for a new plant.
Once you’ve decided on the plants you want to grow in your container garden, purchase your seeds or plants as well as the containers you will be using and plant! In just a matter of weeks you may be enjoying a bountiful harvest!
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