Vegetable Container Gardening

Tips and Tricks for Vegetable Container Gardening Enthusiasts

Vegetable Container Gardening Soil March 31, 2008

Filed under: getting started,Soil — vegetablecontainergardening @ 6:53 pm

Choosing the right kind of soil can be tricky when it comes to vegetable container gardening. What works well in a conventional garden won’t necessarily be a recipe for success in your container garden. This is usually because traditional soil is too heavy for the small containers. Container soil needs to be more lightweight to allow water to drain through and enough air in the soil so that plants can breathe properly. Too  heavy a soil can cause your plants to drown or suffocate – or both! Yikes.

So how do you know what kind of soil to choose? Most container gardeners agree that a “synthetic” or “soil-less” potting mixtures are a good option to go with, especially if you are just starting out. They are lightweight and allow for air circulation and drainage. They also often have fertilizer in them too, which will help kick start a beginners’ garden. That way you don’t have to worry about trying to figure out how often to fertilize – at least for the first few weeks! These soil-less mixtures can be purchased at a local nursery or garden center.

Another option for those who are more experienced gardeners or thrifty frugal gardeners is to make your own mix. You can achieve a nice container garden soil by mixing equal parts sand, loamy garden soil and peat moss. Compost would be another great mixing agent – a half compost half soil mix would also work well for most purposes. Sand can also be added to the soil/compost mixture, but make sure to check the seed packet before adding.


Coffee Filter March 24, 2008

Filed under: Tips and Tricks — vegetablecontainergardening @ 7:42 pm
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Here’s a quick vegetable container gardening tip:

Putting a coffee filter at the bottom of your container will allow water to drain out the bottom, but keep all the soil inside the pot!

You could also use things like a piece of window screen, cheesecloth and tulle for the same purpose.


Getting Started – Reusing Containers

Filed under: getting started — vegetablecontainergardening @ 10:39 am
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One of the most commonly asked questions from people about to embark on vegetable container gardening is “Can I reuse containers?”

 As we pointed out in an earlier post, one can use just about anything as a container for gardening. There’s really no limit to the stuff you can come up with once you start thinking about it! I like to use gallon ice cream containers – they are perfect for starting small plants.

However, whether they have been used for food, or as a container for last season’s plants, you should always wash your containers before planting anything new in them. Bacteria and other disease carrying organisms can linger on the surfaces of your containers, ultimately causing your plants to sicken and possibly die.

To prevent this there is a very simple way to clean and disinfect your containers. First rinse off any dirt or debree still on the interior and exterior of the container (or, if it was a food container like an ice-cream bucket or yogurt container, wash with soap and water to remove food particles.) Then immerse containers in a solution that is 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. This will kill any remaining bacteria and disease carrying organisms. Finally, dry with a clean cloth, or let air dry. That’s it!


Vegetable Container Gardening – Getting Your Garden Started March 22, 2008

Filed under: getting started,Uncategorized — vegetablecontainergardening @ 11:10 am
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The best thing about vegetable container gardening is that you can do it anywhere! If you live in an apartment, co-op or just have a yard that’s too small, but still want to grow a delicious crop of vegetables every year, don’t despair – vegetable container gardening is for you!

Finding your Containers
The first thing you need to start your vegetable container garden are containers. You can stop by your local nursery or stores like Target*, Walmart,* etc, or go online to get some suitable containers. There is a wide variety of containers available ranging from the very simple to the outrageously ornate. Think about what kind of style you want for your garden and then select containers to match. Conversely, if you’d rather go a simpler (and cheaper) route, almost anything can be used for a container if you use your imagination. Old flower pots, milk containers (plastic gallon or paper boxes) with the tops cut off, bird baths – basically anything that will hold some dirt in it! The sky is the limit. However, there is one thing that all your containers should have and that is a hole in the bottom to provide proper drainage. Otherwise your plants might drown!

Once you’ve got some containers, the next thing you need is some soil. I would recommend purchasing soil because it is going to have all the vitamins and nutrients you need to start your vegetables off strong. Another option is getting soil from a friend’s compost pile if you don’t have one of your own. Some cities also offer free compost, check with your local municipality. If you do have a small patch of land you could also take soil from your yard, but you run the risk of it being contaminated by undesirable pollutants – like gasoline, PCB’s and who knows what else! You will most likely also need to fertilize this soil in some way.

Tip: Many container gardeners recommend putting some rocks or other filler at the bottom of your containers to create some empty space which will allow excess water to drain out of the pot more easily. It will also cut down on the amount of soil you use – thus saving money as well. Bonus!

Putting it all together
The final step in creating your vegetable container garden is to decide what kind of vegetables you would like to grow. I would recommend planting vegetables you most enjoy eating. No sense in planting turnips if you hate the taste of them! Some vegetables that grow easily and heartily in containers include tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage and squash. You can purchase tiny saplings or seeds to get your plants started. One thing you might want to consider, depending on the climate in which you live and the time of year you are starting your garden is keeping your plants indoors for the first couple of weeks. This will protect them from the elements such as frost, wind and rain while they are getting their start.

What else can I grow?
Container gardening is not limited to vegetables. You can also grow a wide variety of flowers, trees, herbs and fruits in your garden. Flowers can make your garden pop with color and fragrance. Small trees can provide shade where it’s needed. These are just some examples – be creative!

*disclaimer – Vegetablecontainergardening is not affiliated with any of these stores and does not promote them except to suggest where container gardening materials might be purchased.