Ever tried popping a sweet succulent cherry tomato picked just right at your window sill? Or perhaps, making your own hash browns from potatoes harvested just right at your pocket patio? Container gardening does not have to be all about flowery blooms or herbs and spices. Today, you can grow just about any vegetable you love in a container without having a green thumb. But while the endeavor may prove to be a challenge, heeding the following tips can help vegetable container gardening for beginners a more thriving and productive route.
1. Get enough sun for your vegetables. From potatoes to radishes, lettuce and eggplant, vegetables often require around 6 hours of direct sunlight to thrive. With your busy schedule, however, it’s either your vegetable container garden get too much or too little photosynthesis resulting in disaster. If you want to ensure getting enough sun, a sun calculator like this Rapitest from LusterLeaf helps ensure maximizing your veggies growth. Not enough sun due to weather or location issues? Get grow lights installed.
2. Like other living things, your vegetable garden needs plenty of water to grow healthy produce. The idea is to keep soil moist but not wet enough to drown your veggies. Some advanced gardeners only feel the Earth with their fingers to know the difference. As a newbie, you may want to invest in a soil test kit like this HealthyWiser Soil pH Meter. This small yet multi-functional piece of gardening equipment makes sure that soil for your vegetables is not only getting enough sunlight and water but also the right pH levels– all to ensure healthy growth and yields!
3. Some vegetable growers also invest in self-watering planters to save time and effort. This Pickers Grow Boxes from EMSCO Group, for instance, is an excellent example of growing vegetables that require constant watering. Even when you’re on a vacation or busy at work, a self-watering planter allows absorption of needed water to moisturize roots for healthy growth. With casters on this box, stowing your vegetable into a sunny area is also made easier.
4. Make sure to provide needed warmth to your vegetables. Experts suggest that most, if not all, plants including vegetables need at least 60-deg F to grow healthy produce. Too hot and they can wilt. Too cold and they won’t grow an inch. This is why metal containers and dark-colored pots are no-nos in container gardening as they can either freeze or heat up plant roots. You can invest in sturdy vegetable pots or perhaps, this medium greenhouse from VegTrug that comes with a frame to hold your pots and planters and a protective cover from frost or too much sun.
5. Always choose quality potting soil to start a vegetable container garden. You can’t just scoop soil from your backyard as this will only bring about pests and weeds. This organic potting mix from Espoma, for instance, is enhanced with Myco-Tone water-saving formula that improves moisture retention allowing healthier growth for your vegetables.
6. Some potting mixes like that of Espoma are enhanced with fertilizer. Plants need this to enhance growth and yield more produce. If there’s none, you may want to add organic fertilizer like this Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer every couple of weeks to provide veggies nutrients they need. Or start a compost bin to feed more nutrients to your plants organically on your own.
7. Drainage is another crucial concern when it comes to vegetable container gardening. While there are self-watering pots and boxes that allow controlled water to seep into vegetable roots, it is essential to build adequate drainage to prevent any chances of overflow particularly during rainy days. Some outdoor container gardeners usually make do with raised vegetable boxes to prevent drowning their plants.
8. Choose the right vegetable container. One of the most important aspects in vegetable container gardening for beginners is to choose the right type of containers. You need to ensure that you got the right size to accommodate the types of vegetables you wish to grow. It must also be efficient enough in preserving moisture and protecting plant roots from outside elements. Portable pots and boxes that come with casters make it easier to roll these container gardens from one area to another as the vegetables need demands for it. Some advanced gardeners with DIY chops prefer making their own wooden boxes. Self-watering containers are also great options particularly when growing vegetables indoors. When using terracotta containers though, make sure to line it with a plastic pot to keep soil moist. A recycled bucket or an old laundry basket may also do.
9. Now, the harder part– choosing what vegetables to grow and whether to start from seeds or seedlings. Some vegetables like corn or large pumpkins can be challenging than growing say, tomatoes, peas, carrots, eggplants, zucchini, potatoes and cucumbers. Growing from seeds instead of buying ready-made seedlings is more economical yet challenging route. Your location, weather conditions, temperature, water source and attention are crucial in choosing what vegetables to grow, too. You would not want to grow tomatoes with not enough water source or eggplants without sunshade. So before picking what to grow, research which ones will thrive more in your area.
Without a doubt, vegetable container gardening for beginners can be a taxing experience on the onset. It takes a lot of focus to learn about vegetables and their requirement to grow healthy vis a vis your own location and efforts. While many consider gardening as a mere hobby, it can actually kick start your business chops as you grow organic produce and sell them to the neighborhood market. So have fun and keep your attention focused on what must be done to make your vegetable container garden grow.