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Container Gardening: Growing Vegetables In Containers

Jun 6, 2008
Growing vegetables in containers - whether inside the house, in a greenhouse or just on the porch - has many advantages. Soil maintenance is easier. Pest control is simpler. There are more options for adjusting light and temperature levels.

Most vegetables that can be grown outdoors will do well in containers. Pumpkins and cucumbers, both of which take considerable space, might not be great choices. But tomatoes, peas, peppers, carrots and many others will do just as well (sometimes better) in a container.

Selecting a container that is large enough for a full grown, harvest-ready plant is essential. Select soil that is free from weeds and be sure to add adequate fertilizer before you plant. Consider synthetic soil-like media, or mixtures of peat moss, wood chips, and perlite for various species.

Preparing the soil beforehand, or using a synthetic medium, gives another benefit: easier water control. Adequate drainage balanced against good moisture retention is important for healthy container-grown plants. Breaking up clay particles is easy by mixing in commercial soil prep. Put some marbles at the bottom of a container to ensure good drainage at the bottom and to keep holes from getting plugged by soil.

Even when the soil or medium is well prepared, water with care. When containers are near a window, soil can easily dry out. It's easy to introduce root rot by over watering or to forget whether watering chores were completed, so keep a soil moisture tester nearby.

In most cases it is easier to buy professionally prepared soil for container gardening. Soil straight from the outdoors is usually not a good choice for growing in containers. Nature has a way of draining water from very clay-like outdoor soils. When used in a container, clay's water retention is exaggerated and can lead to root rot.

Most vegetables need plenty of sunlight. You can anticipate a great crop of tomatoes if you place them in a south-facing windowsill that receives several hours of sunlight each day. Tomato plants also thrive in the heat, so there's a low-risk of burning them. There are other vegetables, like lettuce, that prefer less direct sunlight. Place these in partial shade. When you are container gardening, it's easy to move your plants in varied weather.

Keep after insects in a container garden just as you would otherwise. If the plants sit outside in containers, pests have open access. But even indoors most small insects can readily find their way through screen mesh and small cracks in doors. Sometimes, if the eggs were laid in the soil before planting, larvae will develop even if your house is sealed tight. Insecticide soap and other commercial mixtures, when used correctly, are safe for the plants and you when you eat them.

Having fresh vegetables readily available offers convenience and healthful options for your diet. Though container gardening requires some effort, the rewards are well worth the time investment.
About the Author
Are you looking for gardening help to get your garden started right this year? Stop by the Gardeners Atlas website to learn more about growing a successful garden.
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