Container Vegetable Gardening
Container vegetable gardening benefits those that do not have enough space for a traditional garden plot, live in urban areas, or just want to have a neatly organized (easy to access) garden! This type of garden is planted in containers (pots, buckets, trays, troughs, windowboxes) filled with soil. These containers are usually made from terracota or plastic, and have holes in the bottom that allow drainage.
In order to help you get started, we provide the following:
(1) A list of the benefits of container planting
(2) A guide to get started!
Benefits of Container Vegetable Gardening
- Health Benefits - growing your own vegetables allows you to grow non-GMO, chemical-free vegetables.
- Space Requirement - this form of gardening can be accomplished in small spaces (as small as a teacup!).
- Weeding - virtually eliminates weeding due to the density of planting (weeds are choked out) and the fact that you can start with soil that is mostly free of weed seeds.
- Disease - soilborne diseases are less likely to spread because the soil is not shared.
- Easy on the Back - your container garden can be set up on benches or counters to keep you from having to bend over while spending some peaceful and relaxing time in the garden.
- Flexibility in Design - an urban backyard/deck of concrete can be transformed into a beautiful green space using container gardening, raised beds, trellis' and windowboxes.
- Indoors/Outdoors - container gardening can be accomplished indoors or outdoors...or both!
- Accessibility - it become easy to grab fresh produce for your next meal (ie. creating a container herb garden close to the kitchen will allow the freshest herbs for your meal...impress your guests!
- Taste! - home-grown vegetables ALWAYS taste better than mass-grown produce...so good.
- Cost - a container garden can be started with a very small budget...keep reading and we'll show you how!
- Companion Planting - container gardening allows you to easily move compatible plants together for mutual benefit.
How to Start a Container Vegetable Garden
To start a container garden you will need containers, soil, and seeds (or transplants).
Containers can be any vessel that will allow adequate room and drainage (holes punched in the bottom) for the roots of the vegetable you wish to grow. Keep in mind that darker containers will absorb more heat. Lighter colored containers will keep roots cooler during the heat of the growing season. Containers do not have to be store bought...people have used everything from a teacup to a chest of drawers! Pallets also work great for hanging smaller pots.
Do not use soil straight from your yard for container gardening. Containers are confined spaces requiring soil that is more aerated and provides better drainage than straight soil. For more information on the container soil, see our page on indoor vegetable gardening under the heading "The Right Soil".
Types of Garden Seeds
There are essentially five types of garden seeds; open-pollinated seeds, heirloom seeds, hybrid seeds, GMO seeds, and spores.
- Open-pollinated Seeds - these are seeds from natural plants that have been pollinated naturally.
- Heirloom Seeds - these seeds are a form of open-pollinated seeds. The concept behind heirloom seeds is that the seeds are selected from the best plants in the Fall, replanted in the Spring, and cared for during the growing season in order to continue this cycle for generations.
- Hybrid Seeds - hybrid seeds are created by crossbreeding two plants for desirable traits. This form of seeds often produce s stronger plant that offers a better yield than its parents. Unfortunately, hybrid plants do not produce viable seeds for the next season. New seeds must be bought.
- GMO Seeds - genetically modified seeds have their DNA modified through genetic engineering. There is current debate about the safety of such methods.
- Spores - Some plants like mushrooms produce spores rather than seeds. These can also be collected for replanting.
To us, it all comes down to trust. We trust seeds that are as natural and organic as possible.
Now You're Ready
You now have the basic information needed to start a container vegetable garden! The final step is to put the growth medium of choice into the container and plant your seeds. The illustration below is a guideline for layering the container. Some containers are so deep that the whole container does not need to be filled with soil.
For guidance on planting, please see our page about growing vegetables.
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