Vegetable Container Gardening

Tips and Tricks for Vegetable Container Gardening Enthusiasts

More tips on transplanting your vegetable container garden April 14, 2008

Filed under: getting started,Soil,Tips and Tricks,Transplanting — vegetablecontainergardening @ 6:43 pm

At some point in all of our vegetable container gardens, it will become necessary to transplant some of the plants into larger containers. Whether you are transplanting seedlings or a mature plant that needs some breathing room, the general rules still apply.

From Container to Container

Transplanting takes some practice, but is not that difficult. My main objective when transplanting is to do it fast but efficiently. The goal is to allow the roots of the plant to be exposed for the least amount of time possible. To start the transplant, make sure you have everything ready before hand. This includes having the new container all ready to go – the soil should be already mixed and moistened. It is also a good idea to put all tools that you might need within easy reach. If it is a seedling, before transplanting, make sure the plant is about the right age to transplant. For most plants, this means a few weeks old, but since some plants take more time than others to become sturdy enough to be transplanted, it’s always a good idea to check.

Remove the plant from it’s container by carefully clearing the dirt away from it’s roots. Try not to damage the roots. Although intuition seems to say otherwise, handling the plant by the leaves is the best way to perform the transplant. This is because if you break a leaf or a branch, the plant will be able to recover easily. However, injuring the stem could damage the plant so badly that it might not be able to feed itself.

When placing the plant in it’s new container, try to set it at the same depth as it was in the old one. Some plants, like tomatoes, can germinate roots from their stems so you can plant them deeper than they were originally. But for most plants, at the same level is fine.

Once the plant is in, cover with soil and water lightly, do not completely saturate the soil right away

From Indoors to Outdoor

Once your plants become sturdier, you might want to move them outdoors. But if you’ve started your plants from seeds indoors, you won’t want to put them outside right away. They need time to acclimate, a process called “hardening off.” It usually takes about a week or two to complete. Once again, make sure you are putting the plants outside in the proper season. For many of them, this means after the last frost but each plant is different so be sure to check. It is also not advisable to start during a heatwave. To start the hardening off process, place your plant outside for an hour or two on the first day. Make sure it is in a relatively sheltered spot – meaning not in full or direct sunlight and protected from wind, rain, extreme heat, animals, etc. The next day, keep it outside for a little longer. Then continue to increase the amount of time and sunlight as the days go by until the plant is able to handle being outdoors around the clock.


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.