Garden containers open up the prospect of growing healthy food to many people who want to start a garden and to
save money on their grocery bills.
There are many prospective gardeners that have big ideas but are short on space.
There are many people that live in apartments and flats that would love to take the first steps into gardening,
hopefully these tips will help.
This is where making use of garden containers to increase the available space to those willing to be
Herbs - If you are limited in time as well as space, then a small herb garden is the obvious
place to start. If you start with basil or oregano for example, you will have a low maintenance plot.
These humble beginnings will give you the experience necessary to consider establishing other containers. Saving
money and better tasting dishes will encourage you to experiment with other crops.
Vegetables - When it comes to growing vegetables in containers, there is a great amount of
variety. It will depend on the type of space that you have available, as there are vegetables that grow upwards and
those that grow outwards.
- Tomatoes are an obvious choice for garden containers, keep the branches trimmed and trained and as long as
there is sufficient light and water, they can produce a significant crop of tomatoes.
- Onions are another crop that can do well in containers, spring onions especially. I know a number of
exhibition gardeners that raise prize winning produce in containers.
- Root vegetables - These will need deep containers, but carrots, turnips, radishes and even leeks and
parsnips can be cultivated in meaningful quantities.
- Potatoes can be grown in bags or tubs that are topped up with soil as the plants grow. Decent crops can be
obtained, but greater than the quantity is the quality of home grown produce.
Container size - If you are using narrow garden containers, you will need to be careful in
growing tall plants as they may become top heavy and cause the container to topple over.
If you feel adventurous enough to attempt to grow cucumbers you will need to pick them when they're small,
because they can sprout out quickly and outgrow the container.
If you're growing herbs, then a small-sized flower pot may be sufficient.
But oblong containers are much more useable.
Root vegetables, will need at least 12 inches of soil. Tomatoes will need a wider container to be stable.
The picture above is of a Garden Container in the centre of a well
manicured lawn and is probably the most impressive garden planter that I have ever seen.
It must have taken a crane to lift this into it's present location and I don't
think there is any need to worry about this one blowing over in a wind.
Hanging Baskets - These are excellent for trailing plants, flower displays, Strawberries and
smaller varieties of Tomatoes.
It is important to maintain regular watering as they tend to dry out quickly.
Hanging baskets obviously are a way of increasing the amount of space that you have available. This will take an
extra amount of effort, as you will have to ensure that you have firm hanging points.
Planters - These are large and sometimes ornate plant pots.
They are excellent for floral displays, but normally do not have enough room to grow crops in.
They tend to be quite heavy and therefore will tend to stay where they are placed, not useful for plants that
need moving around to catch the sunlight.
Sunlight - This is the main requirement for decent growth, so when possible choose a location
where they get sun from mid-morning on.
If possible maintain temperatures throughout the night by making use of small green houses or cloches or cold
frames. It really is amazing the difference this tip will make to the growth of your plants especially in
If your containers are small enough, you can move them around during the day to keep them in the sun.
Watering - You should water your plants at least once a day. It is best to water in the evening
once the sun has gone down, so that this water has the opportunity to soak in without evaporating off.
If you live in a hot climate you may well need to organise a continual watering system including a hose system
and a metering system, to maintain the optimum moisture content in your soil.
Small scale hydroponic growing systems could well be beyond your finances but they are certainly becoming within
Pests - It is only once you begin to grow your own food that you begin to recognise the damage
that pests can have on your crops.
Prevention is better than cure. Where possible surround your plants with nets or polythene sheets to stop the
pests from getting to your produce. Slug pellets liberally spread around your containers should stop the slugs and
snails from making a bee-line for your produce.
Fruits - Fruit bushes and trees can be grown in containers, we have cultivated Strawberries,
Gooseberries, Red Currants and Black Currants successfully in fairly small tubs.
There are even miniature fruit trees that can be grown in tubs that will still produce a decent crop, the only
draw back is that you might have to wait several years before the tree reaches cropping age.
It is worthwhile doing research on pruning methods for the different bush fruits as this can make a big
difference in the crop levels.
Preparations - Cultivating produce in garden containers does not involve the amount of
digging and weeding that is involved in normal gardening.
But there are still preparations that need to be made.
- Don't use containers for the same crop year after year.
- Rotate crops so that you are not susceptible to disease.
- If using the same soil you will need to add some peat or compost or at least some plant food, otherwise the
soil could become exhausted.
If you invest time and effort in your garden containers you will benefit from fresh, tasty home grown food and
save some money, as well.
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