How to Grow: Container Options for Edibles

When I first started gardening the container choices were usually clay or flimsy green plastic pots. A lot has changed. By using containers made from a variety of different materials, you can be match your pot with plants, furniture and even house siding. And these pots no longer just sit on the ground. Vertical gardening has elevated the pot experience to railings, walls and ceilings.

For the most success, I try to match the right pot material with the right edible plant. For example, clay pots are known to breathe and dry out easily. For these, I grow edibles such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, beans and okra. If you want to add a modern touch to your container garden, try galvanized metal containers. These containers bake in the sun so grow heat-loving veggies such as watermelons, sweet potatoes and hot peppers in them. For veggies that like evenly moist soil, such as tomatoes, basil, squash, and broccoli, use large plastic or wooden containers. One-half whiskey and wine barrels are great for large plants, but they are heavy to move once planted. For space crunched gardeners who don’t have room to store lots of containers in winter, consider grow bags. Made from a fleece-like, polypropylene fabric, these bags come in a variety of sizes. To store, simply compost the potting soil, clean and fold up the bag and stack them in a closet or basement.

When  in doubt always select the newer polyurethane, lightweight containers. These are molded to look like clay or metal pots, but they are made from rubberized plastic. They are UV stabilized so don’t break down in the sun. They can stay outdoors in cold climates in winter without breaking and the come in an array of colors and styles. Select self-watering versions of these containers so you can reduce how much watering you have to do in summer.

You can also match your container’s depth based on plant root growth. For example, deeply rooted vegetables, such as eggplant and tomatoes, should be grown in pots with 1 to 2 feet of soil. Shallow rooted vegetables, such as lettuce, radishes, beets and onions, can be grown in shallower containers.

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