Container vegetable gardens are a great alternative for those that don’t have access to backyards. There can be a range of reasons to grow your vegetables in containers…easy access to the kitchen, safer environments for children and the handicapped or just lack of a yard to use for gardening.
Vegetable gardens in containers can also be extremely attractive and serve the dual purpose of style and function around your patio.
The no dig vegetable garden can be just as successful in containers provided similar guidelines are followed.
Drainage is vital so ensure your containers have appropriate drainage holes to allow water to escape. If they don’t, the plants will literally ‘drown’ and will be susceptible to diseases. They also need a sunny space. The advantage with vegetables grown in containers is that you can move the containers around to follow the sun if no one spot in your patio or garden is suitable.
Vegetables grown in containers will need some additional attention. Their root system is restricted to the pot so make sure you keep them well watered. Containers are far more likely to dry out in hot conditions which will kill your plants or have them ‘fruit’ poorly.
It is also very important that a mulch is put on top of the container. This will slow evaporation and keep the surface temperature of the soil cooler. Plants like tomatoes have small, fiberous roots which will dry and die in hot soil.
Container vegetables may need some additional fertilising due to the extra watering. Nutrients will be washed away quicker in a container than in the ground. A diluted water soluble fertiliser is the best option to use regularly with vegetables.
There have been many varieties of vegetables that have been bred to grow in containers. They are generally referred to a ‘dwarf’ varieties for obvious reasons. A list of suggested varieties and container sizes may help with your selection. Check with your seed supplier on the varieties they recommend.
Having said that, there are many vegetable varieties that will do very well in containers. Tomatoes, lettuce, beets, carrots, cabbage, peas, beans, capsicums and peppers are all good choices. Cucumbers, cauliflower and broccoli will also do well as will virtually all herbs.
Crops like potatoes, corn, pumpkins and vine fruits generally need more room than a container can provide. But the size of your containers and the varieties available to you will dictate what you grow. As with most gardening, trial and error is your best education.