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Container Vegetable Gardening

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on August 24, 2010

Not everyone owns property with a yard suitable for vegetable gardening.  You can still grow vegetables, however.  Most vegetables grow just fine in containers, window boxes, or small raised beds.  When using containers, you get to choose the soil so nematodes, cotton root rot, and other problems are not a concern.

Even vining vegetables such as cucumbers can be grown in containers provided trellises are used to train the plants up instead of out.  Fruit grown in such a manner is cleaner than fruit that is in contact with the ground and is less likely to bruise.  Root crops such as potatoes and carrots can be grown in large pots that give them room to develop.  Just make sure that you can move the pots if necessary and that you do not stack so many pots on a balcony or other structure that you cause it to fail.

Group plants with others who have similar water needs.  You do not want to grow a water loving vegetable in the same pot as one that needs little water.  One or the other will not do well.  You also need to consider the soil ph each plant likes.  Blueberries require acid soil and blackberries require alkaline soil.  They will not both grow well in the same pot.  On the other hand, if you grow them in adjacent pots with the type of soil ph they love, you can have both blueberries and blackberries.

The same type of fertilizer can be used as you would use in a regular vegetable.  The easiest way to fertilize, however, is by adding liquid fertilizer to the water you give the plants.  Many fertilizers are designed to be delivered this way.  Be sure you do not let your plants dry out too much, as containers dry out faster than plants in the ground.

Remember that vegetables need at least six hours of sun on average.  Place them where the plants will get that or your crop will not be as good as it could be.  When the vegetables are harvested and the plants are spent, throw out the soil and plants, or compost them.  Do not turn right around and use the soil again or you could spread pests or disease among your new plants.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia August 25, 2010 at 4:40 am

Hi again Stephanie
I did a similar article on growing lavender in pots on the patio. I have grown tomatoes in containers and herbs of course grow very well that way. If you are confined to a small apartment it shouldn’t stop you from having a garden; allbeit in containers and thereare plenty of attractive looking ones around these days.
Patricia Perth Australia
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Meyer from DWI Lawyers August 26, 2010 at 1:36 am

While reading this article, every paragraph of it made me say “Oh really? I didn’t know that.”, even though I have my own garden at home. Some things that mentioned here were like new to me, really. Thanks for this article, I learn something new from it, from you. Thank you!

P.S. I will try planting blueberries and blackberries, for a change. Hehe..

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Stephanie Suesan Smith August 26, 2010 at 6:49 am

Container gardening makes it possible to do that. You can alter the soil ph to suit the plant.

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Michaela August 26, 2010 at 8:02 am

This post gave me hope that maybe I could grow my own vegetables or berries too. I didn’t think that I would be able to. Thanks!
Michaela recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – RaspberriesMy Profile

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Stephanie Suesan Smith August 26, 2010 at 8:13 am

No problem. Is there something specific you would like more information on that I have not written about?

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nik from heirloom vegetable seeds March 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Container gardening is definitely another popular alternative to the conventional way of gardening. It’s true, not everyone has the space needed to plant. That’s why container planting is so popular. You mentioned in your reply to another comment that you can alter the the soil pH to accommodate for what the plant needs. Where do you suggest people to purchase a soil test kit, and which is the best?

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Stephanie Suesan Smith March 17, 2011 at 5:45 am

If you live in the United States, you can obtain free test supplies from your County Extension Agent. You then gather the soil, following the instructions, and send it to the state lab. In Texas, the basic test is $10. You are sent the results in one to two weeks with recommendations for what nutrients to add. If you have any difficulty interpreting the results, the Extension Office usually has someone that can help you understand them.

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Ben from Green Powder July 2, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Window boxes are the best. They’re so handy and accessible. We like to grow blueberries in the container just outside the deck. Like you talked about, they love acid, so it’s nice anyway to keep them separated from the rest of the plants.
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