Guest post by Jess:
Having spent most of my life in houses with very small gardens my love for vegetable garden has, by in large, been confined to growing things in containers. Over the years I have grown all might and manner of vegetables, from squash to sweet corn, and have to confess to becoming quite a dab hand at it. So much so that I’ve decided to set up my own blog, my container vegetable gardening to share my experiences and hopefully allow others to have the same success as I have.
So what is container vegetable gardening? Well the name is pretty self evident, it’s growing vegetables in pots, tubs, bags and boxes instead of in a classic vegetable bed. Now that sounds all fine, but to get good results there are all sorts of issues that need addressing and mark the process out from normal vegetable gardening. Here I have outlined the top five issues co
ncerned with this type of gardening, which I hope will not only be informative but might spark your interest in giving this very rewarding pastime a go.
1. Type of Container
There are of course, in theory, as many different containers you could use as there are items that are designed to hold things. Bags, boxes, buckets, tubs and troughs, the list is endless. The main points to remember are; the container must be large enough to support the plants being grown, it must be durable enough to withstand the weather without falling apart mid-season and ideally should be environmentally sound, i.e. recycled, recyclable or biodegradable.
Plants that are grown in containers only have a limited amount of soil from which to gain their moisture. A plant grown in the ground can extend its roots as far as it is able in search of water lower in the soil. This is not possible with containerised plants and hence regular watering is of up most importance. In addition many vegetables are very sensitive to drying out even by small degrees; tomato plants will be checked and runner beans won’t set, to give but two examples. I always use and automatic watering system controlled by a timer to ensure regular watering.
In much the same way as water is limited in a container so are nutrients. As is the case for water, a plant in a container cannot grow its roots to search for nutrients, as it could in the ground, and is limited to what is supplied by you. It is therefore essential to make sure your container vegetables are well nourished. Make sure they have a good supply of potassium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphate, all of which are essential for healthy growth. Try to use an organic fertiliser; I tend to make mine myself from cow muck, but it can quite easily be purchased in you prefer.
4. Disease Prevention
Now this might sound obvious and should apply to normal gardening equally, but of course container vegetable gardening is a numbers game. You are dealing with a very small number of vegetables that you want to get maximum yield from. This means protecting them from pests is paramount. If you grow 50 lettuces in a normal bed and half are eaten by slugs you still have 25. If you grow 5 in a container and half are eaten, well I think you see my point.
5. Maximise Yield
In much the same vain as the last point, it is clear that if we only have a few plants we need to maximise our yield. Try and do everything you can to make sure your few plants produce as much fruit as it possible. For example help pollination of your tomatoes with a rabbit’s foot brushed from flower to flower, and always remember to spray your runner beans with a mist of water at flowering time for much the same effect. In essence the whole of container vegetable gardening is about intensively caring for a few plants to maximise their output.
So I hope that has given you some food for thought and maybe even peeked your curiosity to perhaps have ago at a bit of “grow your own” if you have never tried it.
Bio: My name is Jess and I live in Derbyshire with my wife Sue and Jack Russell called “Lefty.” I’ve travelled and lived all over the world working mainly in the medical industry but have finally settled here as a freelance proof reader. All my life I have had two passions gardening and cooking so, now I have more time on my hands, I have decided to set up two blogs to share my passions with the world. – Jess