Container gardening is the act of growing plants in pots or other containers instead of growing them in the ground. Many types of gardens such as flower, herb and even vegetable gardens will thrive as container gardens. Growing vegetables in containers is ideal for those with limited space, such as apartment dwellers or those with little or no yard, or those with physical limitations preventing them from growing traditional gardens. You even have a wide array of containers from which to choose for growing container vegetable gardens.
Galvanised buckets can be used as containers for salad greens, runner beans and even herbs such as mint. Small tins or cans work well for small plants such as chilli peppers and, again, herbs. Large metal buckets or tubs lend themselves well to plants such as carrots, beets, tomatoes, zucchini, runner beans and peas. Be sure to drill plenty of drainage holes into the bottoms of these containers before filling them with planting medium and adding plants. For plants such as spinach or salad greens, you may try planting them in wire baskets lined with felt and filled with potting mix or simply planting them in kitchen colanders.
Clay or Ceramic Containers
Clay or ceramic pots create growing areas for a variety of herbs. Vegetables such as tomatoes (both large and small varieties), runner beans, peas and small types of onions. These types of pots usually have drainage holes adequate enough for growing vegetables. They also offer a weight advantage, helping to balance out the weight of taller and heavier plants so that the container does not tip over in the wind or due to the heaviness of the plant.
Plastic pots are suitable for growing most any vegetable. Shallow, wide plastic pots work especially well for salad greens. Drill holes into large bowls to grow salad greens or spinach, creating your own version of a "salad bowl." Drill holes into smaller plastic bowls to grow small herbs or radishes. Large plastic tubs or buckets, with drainage holes drilled in, can be used as containers for carrots, large vining tomatoes, beets, eggplant and runner beans. Small plastic baskets are just right for peppers while large plastic laundry baskets, lined with peat moss and filled with growing mix, are ideal for large varieties of runner beans.
Wicker baskets make perfect planters for herbs, runner beans and small varieties of tomatoes. The drainage from the plants may cause damage to the wicker over time, so only use baskets you do not mind throwing out after the growing season. Coconut sacks can be turned into bean planters when filled with potting mix. Large sacks, such as those that hold concrete mix, when filled with soil are ideal for growing carrots or potato plants.
Container Growing Advice
Choose containers for vegetables based on the size the plant will be at maturity. Smaller, shallow-rooted plants such as greens or radishes grow well in containers with a 6- to 8-inch soil depth. Larger plants require depth of 2 feet or more. Drills produce adequate drainage holes in metal and plastic containers, but a screwdriver or other sharp object also makes adequate drainage holes in plastic containers. Be sure to add stakes to containers growing tall plants such as tomatoes, beans and peas.
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