By Gail Vanik
A few years ago, Vic and I tried an experiment. Instead of putting our tomato plants in the ground, we planted them in containers on our deck.
It worked so well that now we plant quite a number of our vegetables in pots that sit on the patio. If you only have a small space to garden or the thought of digging in the dirt is not appealing, then maybe you should consider container gardening as part of your vegetable Victory Garden 2020.
Gardening in containers takes a little more care than gardening in the ground. Exactly how much attention your garden needs will depend on the plants you select, the light exposure and the size of the container. You will also need to use a water-soluble fertilizer every week to promote healthy growth because each time you water, you’ll be leaching that fertilizer through the soil, so it’s important to replenish those nutrients regularly.
Select a container large enough to give the roots room to grow. Just about any container type will be fine – plastic, clay or wood. The only thing that is really necessary is to provide drainage. If your pot does not include a drain, you can use gravel, large bark, broken pottery or even styrofoam peanuts in the bottom.
Use good potting soil and healthy plants. When planting, set your plants into the containers so that they will be at the same level as they were in the nursery containers. Be sure all roots are covered and the plants are anchored securely. The soil surface should be about ½ inch below the rim of the pot so that water will not run off. Water thoroughly immediately after planting. Monitor watering needs and water when soil becomes dry to the touch about 1 inch down in the pot. Don’t overwater. Another way to decrease the amount of time spent watering is to add Soil Moist crystals to the soil at the time of planting. These crystals expand and hold water and will help keep the moisture in the soil for a longer period of time. They are especially useful if you work outside your home or simply forget to check your plants very often.
With the recent resurgence in vegetable gardening, especially for those who live in smaller homes or apartments, the seed companies have responded by producing a wider selection of vegetables suitable for growing in pots, and it’s possible to find quite a selection now, including things like baby watermelons, string beans and cucumbers that won’t take the space a traditional plant would.
We’ve tried many things and have had great success with tomatoes, string beans, carrots, Swiss chard, peppers, some cucumbers and even potatoes. You could also do lettuce, radishes, beets and sweet potatoes. Stay away from squash, pumpkins, larger cucumbers and melons- anything that gets very big and sends long runners.
Growing your vegetable garden in containers can be a fun and easy way to grow your own food. Not only will they help to decorate your porch or patio, they will save your aching back and stop you from having to get down on creaky knees when it comes time to harvest.
Gail Vanik can be reached at 970-565-8274 or by email at [email protected].