How to Use Containers for Vegetable Cultivation
Contributor
Written by
Kelly Priest
November 2014
Contributor
Written by
Kelly Priest
November 2014

If you wish to grow your own vegetables but you lack the space required for proper gardening, the use of containers can be an option. You shouldn't miss this opportunity, as most types of edible plants feel themselves at home in pots. So act now, choose the veggies you want to see on your plate and find yourself some containers. Now let's see the need-to-know basis of growing vegetables in pots.

Use the Sunlight Wisely When You Set Up Your Garden

The availability of direct sunlight is crucial for growing tomatoes, peppers, and other plants which develop faster under bright light and good ventilation. For instance, if you live in a place with long winters, choose a south-facing spot for your tomato containers – it is a must. On the other hand, you should pay attention to cool climate plants. For instance, if you place containers with such vegetables on stone or cement surfaces, the latter will add heat. It may result in low-quality yields. A good solution for the aforementioned cases is to add mobility. For instance, place your containers on carts and the stove-like heat of your patio will not affect the plants. Or, you will be able to move your tomatoes away from your windy balcony at any time.

Choose Properly-Sized Containers with Drainage Holes

While the material you choose for containers is not an issue, their size might be of importance. For example, growing potatoes requires a strict width of your container and less than moderate drainage. As a rule of thumb, the bigger containers are, the better. Besides the added space, a bigger pot keeps the moisture for longer. Ten inches of width and a dozen inches of depth is a good minimum pot size for novice gardeners. Many disposable materials are suitable for a container of this size. However, while growing strawberries requires only the aforementioned minimum, some plants form large vines and need much more space.

Container Materials Are For Your Needs and Less Important to Your Plants

If you set a vegetable garden in containers, you will certainly care a lot about the aesthetics. The good news is that you have a lot of freedom when it comes to materials. Plants can grow well in large flowerpots, baskets, barrels, and buckets. However, you shouldn't neglect some obvious circumstances. For instance, clay post absorb much moisture and the veggies planted in such containers need more watering. Also, pay attention to the colour (darker pots get heat faster) and take any possible chemical residue under consideration.

Start Seeds, Grow Transplants, Or Purchase Them

You can start the crops from seeds spread in the container. Or, you can bring transplants – grow them outdoors or purchase them. In all cases, always water the soil in the container and wait a couple of hours for proper drainage of the excess water. Don't forget to add composts, preferably material used in organic gardening. Veggies that form vines need wire cages right after you plant them.

Irrigation Is Everything, So Don't Neglect It

30 days after you plant the vegetables in your containers, start to add fertilisers about once in a week. Never let the soil of your pots dry up. Luckily, there is one time-saving method – install a drip-irrigation system. One more thing, plants in containers are not immune to diseases, weeds, and pests. If you encounter signs of the aforementioned, remove the affected plants or parts of plants without delay.

Do Not Delay the Harvest

You should pick the crops when they are ripe. The right moment depends on the plant itself. You will recognise when tomatoes get the desirable colour, when eggplants get their distinctive shine, or when beans swell inside the pods. Keep in mind that many edible plants give more yields if you harvest them early and often. Moreover, the contrary can cause a drop in fruit set.

After the harvest, free your container from soil. Without renewal of soil material for the next crop, you will risk infections and pest infestations. Professionals in the gardening branch recommend full clean-up of your container after you remove the dirt from it.

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