Growing vegetables in containers – whether inside the house, in a greenhouse or just on the porch – has many advantages.
- Soil maintenance is easier.
- Pest control is simpler.
- There are more options for adjusting light and temperature levels.
One might think that planting in a container is limited to just a select few vegetables, but they would be mistaken. Of course, vegetables that need a large amount of space to flourish would not be the best choice.
However, other vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, and peppers thrive under more controlled circumstances.
When deciding what size container to use it is important to consider how large the plant will grow to be. Using soil that is weed free and fertilized will help ensure your success, although some prefer to use synthetic, soil-like media.
For some plants, mixtures containing peat moss, perlite, and wood chips are the best choices.
Preparing the soil beforehand, or using a synthetic medium, gives another benefit: easier water control.
Adequate drainage balanced against good moisture retention is important for healthy container-grown plants. Breaking up clay particles is easy by mixing in commercial soil prep. Put some marbles at the bottom of a container to ensure good drainage at the bottom and to keep holes from getting plugged by soil.
The key to growing a healthy plant is by carefully watching its water intake. If a plant is placed near a window, the soil can dry out quickly. Over hydrating can cause root rot, and forgetting if they have even watered the plants that day so it is best to keep a soil tester on hand to ensure proper moisture levels.
In most cases, soil straight from the outdoors isn’t a good choice for containers. Very clay-like soil outdoors can be compensated for somewhat by natural features that drain the water away. In a container, the strong ability of clay to retain water is exaggerated. Very sandy soil will need to be built up. If that much effort is required to adjust outdoor soil, it’s easier just to buy professionally prepared media.
A good long day of sunlight is what most vegetables usually thrive under.
- Tomatoes, for example, do best in windows that face south, and they handle the heat well.
- More delicate vegetables, such as lettuce, need to be places where there is less direct sunlight and more shade.
- If you need a little more or less sun, all you have to do is pick up the pot and go!
The need for pest control is vital in container gardening.
Many think that as long as their plants are not outside, that they are safe; However, this is not the truth. Insects can get in through small cracks, screen doors, or even in the soil itself. For that reason it is important to use insecticide soap, or other commercial mixtures. This keeps the plants, the crops, and you safe.
photo credit: OakleyOriginals
Vegetable gardening in containers requires some effort. But the rewards are great. Having fresh vegetables on hand provides a tasty and healthy component to a good diet.