Introduction: Hello vegetable gardeners, today let us get into detailed information of container gardening for vegetables for maximum profits. Container gardening is a very simple and fun way to grow edible crops in just about any situation. If you don’t have space for starting a vegetable garden, consider raising fresh, nutritious, homegrown vegetables in containers. A window sill, patio, balcony, or doorstep can provide sufficient space for a container garden. Problems with soil-borne diseases, nematodes, or poor soil can be overcome by switching to container gardening.
A step by step guide to container gardening for vegetables
Container vegetable gardens consist of plants grown in the containers instead of in the ground. Filling pots or buckets of different sizes with a soil-less potting medium creates an economical, simply maintained garden.
A container garden is a very easy low-cost means to grow your food which requires very little maintenance. By choosing attractive containers, your container gardening projects can add variety and appeal to the landscape. Otherwise, free plastic buckets can be decorated to provide for a lower-cost attractive container.
Container gardening or pot gardening is ideal for those with little or no garden space. In addition to growing vegetables, gardeners limited to a balcony, small yard, or only a patch of sun on their driveway can make a wide variety of vegetable crops in containers.
Soil requirement for container gardening for vegetables
A lightweight soil that holds nutrients and moisture yet drains well is necessary. Commercial mixes of peat moss and vermiculite or perlite are a great choice for containers. However, some money can be saved by making own soil mix.
The potting soil you choose must be free of disease organisms, insects, and weed seeds. It should be porous yet hold water and nutrients with a slightly acidic pH level.
You can use soil in container vegetable garden, but potting mixes are much better. Peat-based mixes, containing peat and vermiculite, are very excellent. They are relatively sterile and the pH level adjusted. They also allow the plants to obtain enough air and water. Mixing in one part compost to two parts planting mix will develop fertility.
Using a slow-release or complete organic fertilizer at planting will keep vegetables fed for the whole growing season.
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The light requirement for container vegetable gardening
Nearly all vegetable plants will produce better in full sunlight than in shade. However, leafy crops that are lettuce, cabbage, greens, spinach, and parsley can tolerate more shade than root crops that are radishes, beets, turnips, and onions. Fruit-bearing plants, for example, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant need the most sun of all. One major advantage of growing vegetables in containers is that you can place the vegetables in areas where the plants can receive the best possible growing conditions.
Things required for container gardening for vegetables;
- Craft sticks
- Disposable gloves
- Hand Trowel
- Nylon window screen
- Soil-less potting mix
- Water-soluble fertilizer
- Watering can
Container gardening for vegetables is useful when;
- You want to move container plants into the house for the winter.
- Controlling soil quality is preferred.
- There isn’t much space obtainable.
- You want to grow year-round vegetables.
The growing media
Any growing media should provide water, nutrients, and physical support to grow healthy plants. A good growing media should also drain well. Soilless mixes are well suited for vegetable container gardening and can be composed of sawdust, wood chips, peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. These are free of disease and weed seeds, hold moisture and nutrients but drain well and lightweight.
How to choose the right containers for growing vegetables
- One of the most vital steps in finding success when container gardening is to pick the correct container.
- The most common pot or container sizes range from 10 inches in diameter to 24 inches in diameter. If you prefer to go with a 24-inch pot, use it for larger vegetables like squash plants or pepper plants.
- The most useful containers for growing vegetables are Terracotta, Ceramic, Plastic, Wooden, Metal, Concrete, and Window Boxes.
- Almost every type of container can be used for growing vegetable plants. For example, using bushel baskets, drums, gallon cans, tubs or wooden boxes. The size of the container for vegetables will vary according to the crop selection and space available.
- Containers from 6 to 10 inches in size are satisfactory for green onion, parsley, and herbs. For most vegetable crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, you will select 5-gallon containers are a suitable size.
- Smaller container sizes are suitable for herbs, lettuce, and radish crops. They are fairly easy to handle and give adequate space for root growth.
- Container materials are either porous or nonporous type. Glazed, plastic, metal, and glass containers are nonporous materials. Regardless of the type or size of container used it should drain adequately for successful yields.
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Make sure to have proper drainage
- No matter what kind of container you choose for a vegetable garden, it should have holes at the base or in the bottom, to permit drainage of excess water. Some vegetable plants will die if left sitting in wet soil.
- Adding about 1 inch of coarse gravel in the bottom of the container will develop drainage. The drain holes work best when they are located along the side of the container, about ¼ to ½ inches from the bottom.
- Good drainage is necessary when growing plants in containers. Containers less than 10 inches or 25 cm in diameter should have a hole ½ inch/ 1.2 cm in diameter to provide good drainage. Containers greater than 10 inches in diameter need 2 to 4 holes.
Preparing a container for vegetable planting
- Begin container gardening by choosing fertile soil that will fill a vessel of choice. Basic potting soil is a great choice and is readily obtainable at your local home center.
- Add soil to the container until it’s approximately two-thirds from the top, and prearrange vegetables before planting them.
- Be sure to leave plenty of space surrounding every plant by following individual instructions specifically for the vegetables you have chosen.
- After deciding the placement of vegetables, remove plants from their original seed trays, and carefully loosen their roots. Dig adequately sized holes, plant the vegetables according to label instructions.
- Fill in the holes with the surrounding soil, and add soil to bring the level about an inch below the top.
Planting vegetables in containers
- Plant container crops at the same time you would if you were planting a regular vegetable garden. Fill a pot or container to within 1 to 2 inches of the top depending on the size of the container with the slightly damp soil mixture. Peat moss in the mix will absorb water and mix much more readily if wetted before putting the mix in the pot or container.
- Sow the seeds or set transplants based on instructions on the package. Put a label with the name, variety, and date of planting on or in every container. After planting, soak the soil with water, being careful not to wash out or displace seeds and thin seedlings to get proper spacing when the plants have two or three leaves.
- If cages, stakes, or other supports are needed, give them when the plants are very small to avoid root damage later.
Feeding of your vegetable plants
Plants in containers have less access to nutrients than those in the ground, so they will need additional feeding. Use slow-release fertilizers or add liquid feed to the watering can. Plants must be fed around every fortnight during the growing season.
Some of the vegetables good for container gardening
List of vegetables suitable for growing in containers;
Vegetables that are ideally suited for growing in containers include Eggplant, Lettuce, Parsley, Beans, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Chard, Cucumbers, Onions, Peppers, Radish, Spinach, Squash, and Tomatoes.
Seeding and transplanting of Vegetables in containers
Vegetables that can be easily transplanted are best suited for a container garden. Transplants can be purchased from local nurseries or can be grown at home. Seeds can be germinated in a baking pan, plastic tray, pot, or even a cardboard milk carton. Fill the container with the media and cover the most vegetable seed with ¼ inch to ½ inch of media to ensure good germination. Another method is to use peat pellets or peat pots which are obtainable from nursery supply centers. Landscape cloth or screen in the bottom of the pot will develop drainage and invigorate plant growth.
The watering requirement for growing vegetables
Proper watering is necessary for a successful container garden. Normally one watering per day is adequate. However, poor drainage will slowly kill the vegetable plants. The mix will become water-logged and vegetable plants will die from lack of oxygen. If at all possible, avoid wetting the foliage of plants since wet leaves will encourage plant pests and diseases.
Always remember that each watering must be done with the nutrient solution except for the weekly leaching with tap water.
General care taking for growing vegetables in containers
Vegetables grown in containers can be attacked by the different types of insects and diseases that are common to any vegetable garden. Plants must be periodically inspected for the presence of foliage-feeding and fruit-feeding insects as well as the occurrence of diseases.
Protect plants from high heat caused by light reflection from the pavement. Move plants to a cool spot or shade them during the hottest part of the day. Plants must be moved to a sheltered location during severe rain, hail, or wind storms and for protection from early fall frosts.
Vegetable harvesting techniques
- Each type of vegetable in the container has specific harvesting techniques.
- Harvest the vegetables at their peak of maturity when they are full flavor has developed. For example, vine-ripened tomatoes, tender green beans, and crisp lettuce will have the best flavor.
- At the end of the harvest season, discard the plant and soil from the container. Do not reuse the same soil for the second season of production and infected soil or mix will spread disease into the second season unless it is properly composted. Properly composted planting media could be reused.
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