Vegetable Container Gardening

Tips and Tricks for Vegetable Container Gardening Enthusiasts

Keep Dogs and Other Critters Out of Your Vegetable Container Garden! April 6, 2008

Filed under: Pets,Tips and Tricks — vegetablecontainergardening @ 2:46 pm
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Photo courtesy of http://www.PDphoto.org

There’s nothing more disheartening then putting so much hard work into your vegetable container garden only to have the local animals – dogs, cats, rabbits, raccoons, deer or other furry creatures – ruin it by digging, eating or urinating on your plants. Here are some tips as to how to keep them out! Note: These methods will also work in a conventional garden as well.

I like to use natural methods of keeping animals away before resorting to a commercial spray. Some commercial sprays now a days are organic and safe to use around pets and children, check the labels or ask the staff at your local nursery or garden store what they would recommend. I never recommend using mothballs or moth crystals to keep animals out of a garden. Although they are highly effective, they are extremely toxic to both pets and children.

The best method of keeping animals out of your garden is to either install a fence, chicken wire or keep your containers indoors. However this isn’t always a practical solution for gardeners so here are some more safe and natural ways to keep those critters out:

Spice it up! Sprinkling spices such as Red chili powder, Cayenne Pepper or freshly ground Black Pepper will help keep most animals out of the garden. Most animals will have the same reaction as we do to these spices – sneezing and watery eyes – so once they catch a whiff, it’s likely they will stay away. Re-sprinkle after a rain.

A method I came across to keep cats away is to sprinkle orange peels and coffee grounds in the garden. Cats apparently hate the smell of citrus. Other types of citrus peels will probable work too, and there are some citrus sprays on the market as well. Don’t drink coffee? Stop by Starbucks* – most branches give away free used coffee grounds for composting purposes, but they will work for this method as well. My favorite thing about using the peels and coffee grinds is that not only do they keep the animals out, but they also provide your garden with a fertilizer boost!

Another technique that will work for most animals (dogs, cats, deer, rabbits and raccoons) is to use a vinegar spray on your plants.

This is the most unusual approach I’ve heard of, but I figure it’s worth a shot. Fill empty clear bottles (soda bottles, water bottles etc – take off the wrappers first) with water and place around the perimiter of your garden or yard, approximately every 3 feet or so. I’ve never tried this, but many people claim it works. What have you got to lose?

Hope these tips were helpful. If you have any additional methods, please comment and let us know!

*Disclaimer – Vegetable Container Gardening is not affiliated with or promoting Starbucks in any way. The sole purpose in mentioning them in this post is to provide readers with information that we think is important. That’s all, don’t read too much into it.

 

Seeding and Transplanting Your Vegetable Container Garden April 3, 2008

baby-plants.jpgPhoto courtesy of http://www.PDPhoto.org

So you’ve gotten all your raw materials (containers, soil, seeds, etc) and you’re raring to get your vegetable container garden started. One way for an easy start is to get some seedlings or clippings from your local nursery or garden center and plant them, as they are, into some small containers. This is a really good option if you are starting slightly behind the optimum time of year to germinate seeds. If it’s warm enough, you can also put your vegetable plants outside right away. However, pay close attention to the weather and environment, your seedlings probably won’t survive a late frost, pouring rain, burning sun rays or animals munching on them.

Other people like to watch plants turn from seeds into tiny baby plants right in front of their eyes. I have to say it is quite magical, seeing those tiny green sprouts against the soft black dirt. If you do decide to choose this route, here are a few important things to consider.

Read the seed packages carefully and follow the sowing directions. Not all seeds are equal, some have more specific needs than others. Cover the seeds with about ¼ inch to ½ inch of soil. You want to provide enough soil to allow for proper germination, but you don’t want the soil to be too heavy so that they have to struggle too hard to break the surface.

Start your seeds in a warm area. The best place is probably indoors – they are safe from the elements and animals, and you can maintain a constant temperature. I usually wait about 4 to 8 weeks before I transplant the seedlings, depending on their size and sturdiness. Another way to tell if the seedlings are ready to transplant is when they have 2 to 3 leaves on them.

If you are planting several varieties of vegetables at the same time, you will want to label each kind. I like using those little colored dot stickers. I write the name of the plant on each one, or use a different color for each kind.

 

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.

 

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.