Carolyn’s passion for “green” and “sustainable” began with her early childhood in the Carolina coast. Seeing the unintended consequences of a number of “agricultural improvements”, she now literally “walks the walk” for sustainable, safe and green
practices. She loves to share what she has learned! -Pub.
Planning Your Container Vegetable Garden
Some plants do very well in containers on the patio while others prefer more space. As with any project, good planning with insure your success. Below is a list of items that you will need for a successful container garden.
1) A Container: This could be pots purchased from any retail outlet, or you could make your own. I prefer hypertufa pots as they hold moisture well and the plants don’t require as much watering. Make sure that whatever type of container you chose has at least one hole in the bottom, the soil must be allowed to drain.
- Avoid terra cotta and very dark colored pots; these will dry out quickly making frequent watering necessary.
- Most tomato varieties will require a 5-gallon container.
2) Shredded Newspaper: Shredded newspaper either mixed in with your potting mix or lining the inside of the container helps retain moisture and actually composts in the pot with your plant throughout the summer. It also keeps the soil soft, giving roots plenty of room to spread out.
3) Potting Mix: Select a good potting mix that contains both vermiculite and peat moss. If you use compost, you can add both of these to the mixture before planting.
4) A Sunny Spot on your porch or patio: Your plants will need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. To avoid late-summer overheating, it is preferable if part of the six hours is early morning sunlight.
There are a few things to consider before starting your garden for instance, what favorite vegetables would you like to grow? When selecting your seeds, choose plants that will be the right size for your containers. Typically, plants that are ideal for container patio gardens contain one of these key words in the name on the seed packet: dwarf, patio, bush or miniature. However, most onions, peppers and carrot varieties may not have one of these in their name, but all of these are great patio veggies.
Always follow normal climatic schedules for planting your patio garden. These are usually found on your seed packets. Also found on your seed packet is germination time and days to maturity. I always like to start my seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost, and I like to plant them outside on Good Friday. No special equipment is required for starting your seeds, all you need is a few small paper cups filled two thirds with potting mix and a sunny window. It’s a family tradition that really doesn’t have much to do with the holiday but rather the actual number of days into spring. Most areas are safe to plant after Easter; however, if your weather forecast predicts a freak freeze after you have planted your seedlings outside, you can simply bring them inside for the night. That is one of the nice things about container gardens.
Things to remember:
A) Do not forget to water! If you wait until your seedlings have wilted, it may be too late to revive them.
B) Some herbs and flowers are natural pesticides. I always plant marigolds with my vegetables, as most of the insects that threaten them hate the smell of marigolds.
C) Use all natural fertilizers. My favorite is compost tea, if you’re not making your own compost there are a couple of commercially made varieties that work well and they are safe. Compost tea is not only healthy nourishment for your plants but it is also a natural pesticide.