How to Grow: Growing Vegetables in Containers

Growing vegetables and edibles in containers is fun and rewarding. But container growing does require special attention. Use potting soil and maybe some compost, add fertilizer regularly and keep up with watering to get a the best yields. There are some tricks to container gardening with edibles that may help.

Here are more ideas for maintaining your container edible garden.

-Most vegetable and herbs grow best in full sun in a protected area from wind and cold. That being said, leafy greens and root crops can grow in part shade and still give you a good harvest.

-Reuse old potting soil if your plants weren’t disease or insect infested the previous year. Remove the top 6 inches of soil and compost it. Refresh the container between each planting with new potting soil and mix it with the old.

– Large containers get heavy. Consider purchasing containers with built-in casters or use caddies under your pots to easily move the pots around. These work best on flat tile, concrete and stone surfaces.

-Don’t forget about vertical spaces. Use wall garden kits to grow lettuce and herbs right outside your kitchen door. Use railing and deck planters to maximize planting space off the ground. These are great for dwarf carrots, radishes, greens and trailing plants like oregano. Trellis climbers, such as pole beans and peas, up and plant trailers around the edge, such as cucumbers, to efficiently use the space. Plant new varieties of dwarf tomatoes, such as ‘Lizzano’, in hanging baskets to produce cherry-sized fruits all summer.

-Containers need consistent watering. Use drip irrigation lines, self watering containers and make sure you place containers close to a water source for hand watering. Use the finger test to know when to water. If you can poke your finger into the soil and it’s dry to the knuckle, water. On sunny, hot days, you may be watering a few times a day. Of course, the larger the container, the longer you can go between waterings.

-Since containers are mostly filled with potting soil and perhaps some compost, you’ll have to stay on top of fertilizing. I like using an organic granular fertilizer in spring with a side dressing in midsummer for long season, large veggies such as tomatoes and eggplants. It slowly releases nutrients during the growing season. A time release fertilizer will also work. However, I also find that periodic additions of a liquid fertilizer, such as fish emulsion or compost tea, also helps keep plants growing strong.

– Keep picking. Harvest the outer leaves of greens to keep the growth point producing more leaves. Pick cucumbers, squash and beans on the young side to encourage more production. Cut back herbs periodically to encourage fresh flushes of new growth.

– Be merciless with pest infested plants. Check frequently for pests and if they get out of hand, yank the plant. It’s better to pop in something else than to struggle with a vegetable just limping along.

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