How to Grow a Successful Container Vegetable Garden
Growing your own vegetables is a great way to save money and ensure you always have fresh produce on hand. While having a sprawling farm and plenty of room to grow a garden is wonderful, that's not everyone's reality. When space is limited, we love the idea of container vegetable gardens. In addition to their ability to fit into tighter spaces, they also have a lower risk of problems like pests, poor drainage, and soil-borne diseases. And, with our helpful tips, cultivating successful crops is actually downright simple.
From choosing the right pots for your plants to taking advantage of vertical space, there's always something new to learn when it comes to tending to your plants. And an important and sometimes overlooked aspect of any garden is the use of potting mix. Depending on what type of vegetables you're intending to grow, making your own potting mix is a great way to make sure they get the nutrients they need. Another important tip is to place plants in the same family in different containers, as they will compete for the same nutrients when grown together. But if you're a foodie, we recommend growing an array of vegetables, which means more options for tasty meals.
You'll also want to prioritize organization. It's key to growing a successful container vegetable garden. We recommend creating a reference guide by stapling seed packets to index cards and arranging them in a recipe box. But be sure to only staple one edge of the packet so you can flip it over for easy access to growing instructions. Take your organization a step further by noting when the seeds were sown, when they sprouted, and any other dates you might need for future seasons.
Ahead, we're planting the seeds for a number of tips that will help guarantee container gardening success.
Start with the Soil
Soil isn't made up of just one component, but many. Learning about the basic elements will help you choose the right formula for your specific plants. And when you're growing vegetables in containers, you can adjust the soil in each based on its plant's own needs.
Not all containers need to rest on the ground. Think vertically and add dimension to a room with stacked or hanging baskets.
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Organization Is Key
Container gardening requires planning. Because the plants are only getting whatever nutrients are in the pot, remembering when to fertilize, add soil, and watering frequency is important. To create an indispensable reference guide to your garden, staple seed packets to index cards and organize them in a recipe box. Staple only one edge of a packet, so you can flip it over to see instructions for growing. On the lined side, note when the seeds were sown, when they sprouted, and any other dates you might need for future seasons.
Soil in pots dries out more quickly than it does in the ground, so you'll need to water your vegetables every couple of days (depending on the size of your pot) in order to keep everything moist. Mulching, as you would in a grounded garden, will help your veggies retain moisture.
Food for Your Food
Because the ratio of root mass to soil volume is much higher than that of garden plants, the roots have fewer nutrients to consume, which means it's time to stock up on some dry organic fertilizer. If you use controlled-release fertilizer, you can give your vegetables an extra boost with fish emulsion. For best results, apply it every two to three weeks.
Pick Your Plants
Here comes the fun part—choosing what to grow in each container. You don't want plants in the same family as they will compete for the same nutrients. You also want to optimize your space—plants that hang over the side will leave room for plants that require more pot area, like leafy greens.
Fiber Clay Pots
You'll need lightweight containers so you can move them as the sunlight shifts. Wood containers work well, but so do the beautiful pots seen here—they look like they are made of lead but are a fraction of the weight.