This guide will give you the basics to start growing vegetables in containers. There might be a million discouraging reasons to not start a garden. Maybe you don’t have a yard at all, or maybe you’ve tried to start a garden but haven’t been able to grow anything. Poor soil quality is one of the top three reasons most gardens fail. Container gardening is a solution for these issues. It allows you to grow indoors, on balconies, in small yards, making it possible to amend small batches of soil instead of a whole yard.
How to Start Growing Vegetables in Containers
Picking a Space
Whether you are gardening inside or outdoors, how much sunlight you have available will make a difference on what you are able to plant. Most vegetables require 6-8 hours of sunlight. This is possible even in small yards or balconies.
If you only have an indoor space, then shade-loving herbs might be a better solution. You can also set up artificial lighting to get the required amount of light.
Garden Planter ideas
Once you decide how much space you have to grow in, then you can decide what you want to grow and what kind of containers you need. The beauty of growing vegetables in containers is you can use almost any kind of container to grow in.
Small Pot Plants
For an indoor herb garden you can use large mason jars, tin cans, coffee containers, or milk jugs. You can sit them in the windowsill or set up shelf by the window.
Outdoor Plant Pots
With the proper sunlight and larger containers, you can grow just about anything from squash and melons to peas and tomatoes. Thrift stores are a great source for finding container gardening pots. I have found affordable feed buckets or other open storage containers for just a few dollars. Trashcans, 5-gallon buckets, kitty litter buckets are all great options for these larger vegetables.
Before you add soil to your containers, make sure to drill plenty of ¼ in holes in the bottom. This will help water drain properly and prevent root rot. This is especially important if the containers are outside, as sometimes even a bit of rain will drown your plants if it doesn’t have a place to drain.
Soil Mix for Container Gardens
Soil in containers requires a special mix to help retain moisture and to keep the water from suffocating the roots.
Mix together 1 part peat moss or compost, 1 part garden soil and 1 part sand.
The perlite allows more air to get into the soil and vermiculite helps the soil retain moisture. Sand keeps the soil loose and helps retain moisture. You can add a little bone meal to add an organic slow-release source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
This recipe helps when starting out, but a little trial and error will help find the perfect recipe for you.
Maintaining Your Container Garden
Once you’ve added your plants to the soil, give them a nice drink of water. Monitor their water levels closely to make sure they’re getting enough water. Plants in containers often require more water, especially outdoors. You’ll also need a sprinkle of bone meal or compost from time to time.
What Not to Grow in Containers
Anything that has a long tap-root such as sunflowers or okra will not do well in any kind of container. This article provides size recommendations for a variety of different plants.
There is limitless gardening potential when it comes to container gardening. For more inspiration on the different garden planters you can use, check out these ideas.
Container gardening is a solution for people without access to a large yard or quality soil. It doesn’t take a lot of upfront investment to start growing vegetables in containers because you can use containers from around your house to get started and grow your collection from there!
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