Is it possible to have your own vegetable garden if you do not have a backyard or garden in your home? Absolutely! Growing vegetables in containers is the solution for gardening enthusiasts who do not have space for a garden in their home. It could be your balcony, patio, window sill or simply a sunny corner in a room, and you could be well on your way to planting a beautiful indoor vegetable garden.
Container vegetable gardening is becoming popular not just because it allows apartment dwellers to own a piece of green sanctuary. Even gardeners who have an outdoor garden are also getting into container gardening for the following reasons:
a) Convenience in moving the plants around
b) Better control over the spread of diseases across different plants.
c) Ability to personalize your little garden with a variety of containers
d) No need to patch the lawn if the plants donít work out
These are just some of the reasons that encourage garden owners to get into container gardening. Regardless if you have your container vegetable garden indoors or outdoors, there are five golden rules of growing vegetables in containers that will help increase your success in vegetable gardening.
Golden Rules for Growing Vegetables in Containers
1. Selecting a container
Before you embark on your shopping spree to rush out to buy gardening supplies, ask yourself Ė what kind of vegetables do I want to grow? Having a clear idea of the vegetable type you are planting will help to determine the container type that you should buy. If you are going to plant big plants, you will need bigger, deeper containers that provide space for the development of strong roots.
Generally, it is recommended to use bigger containers for vegetable gardening. You should take both the diameter and depth of the container into consideration. For vegetable plants to be strong and healthy, deep containers are needed as it provides the space for strong, good root system to develop. The material which the pots and containers are made of is unimportant. Plastic, terra cotta and timber planters are all suitable for an indoor vegetable garden. Just note that size and depth are more vital.
If you plan to plant vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, lettuce and cucumbers, a 3-5 gallon container will suffice. Bigger containers of 15 gallon will be needed for the bigger plants.
2. Location of your container
The availability of sunlight is a major consideration when it comes to positioning your container vegetable plants. Your vegetable plants would require sufficient sunlight if you want to have healthy plants and a bountiful harvest. Most vegetable plants, especially beans, peppers and tomatoes need a good 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.
Where you place your containers plays an important part to the survival of your vegetable plants. Apart from sunlight, you also have to consider if the location is windy. Strong winds tend to dry up plants; hence you should refrain from placing your container plants at windy areas. If you are unable to avoid the strong winds, you can erect a windbreaker around your vegetable plants to shield them.
Catering ample space between the containers is just as important as it enables good air circulation for your plants. While positioning your containers, do not let the taller plants shade out the shorter ones. In this way, all of your plants will have an equal chance of exposure to sunlight.
3. Selecting soil
Using the right kind of soil will provide your vegetable plants with a good start for healthy growth. Heavy potting soil or garden soil is inappropriate for planting vegetables in containers. A better choice would be container mix that has better moisture retention capability and can resist compaction. You may also consider making your own compost with manure added. This is probably a better option than buying ready made garden soil from the nursery.
Do take note of the vegetable type as well when you are selecting the soil. Potatoes prefer rich, loamy soil while carrots grows better in sandier, more free-draining compost.
Container plants tend to absorb more heat, hence they usually take in quite a bit of water. To prevent your vegetable plants from drying, it is vital that you water them frequently. Take this into consideration when positioning your containers. Easy access to water points will make it more convenient for frequent watering.
How do you know if your plant has sufficient water? First and foremost, you have to check the moisture level of the soil. The soil in your containers should not be soaking wet as it can cause the roots to rot. Use the finger test to check the moisture level of the soil. Dip your index finger into the soil. If the soil feels hard and dry, it is time to water your plants. If the surface, or just underneath the surface of the soil feels moist, you can water your plants the next day.
If you donít want to use the finger test, get a soil moisture meter to do the job. In fact, this is a more precise method than the finger test to measure soil moisture level.
5. Adding fertilizers
Since container plants require frequent watering, the fertilizer will tend to get diluted faster. You should feed your container vegetable plants with fertilizers twice as often. Doing so will ensure your plants of a healthy supply of fertilizers for strong and healthy growth.
Growing vegetables in containers at home allows you to enjoy fresh home-grown vegetables at any time. Nothing beats the satisfaction of being able to savor the fruits of your labor and to share it with your loved ones. Indoor vegetable gardening is such a pleasure when you have the know-how and tips to grow a bountiful harvest.