Container Vegetable Gardens
A 4 foot by 8 foot balcony is all you need to grow enough organic vegetables to satisfy your hungry appetite. When space is limited in your garden, or if you live in an apartment or just do not want to invest time in a full-scale vegetable garden, you can still enjoy homegrown vegetables within reach of your kitchen.
Growing organic vegetables in containers is rewarding and easy. Just pay close attention to a few important rules and you can invest minimal amounts of time to harvest an abundance of organic vegetables. The tips in this article will supply you with all the information you need to create a productive container garden that is easy to set up, maintain, and harvest. Container vegetables can provide you with nutritious, tasty, and visually pleasing organic vegetable plants. Also, there is nothing tastier than picking a few fresh vegetables from the garden and putting them in a salad within minutes of harvest, truly a reward.
Five things must be considered prior to planting your organic vegetable garden.
2) Container size
3) Potting medium
5) Trellising support.
More is better! This will be the most important factor to consider. Too little, and your plants will not be able to convert sufficient sunlight energy to produce fruit of any real value. (But on the other hand, some herbs that are grown specifically for their foliage may do fine in areas with lower sunlight.) Tracking the sun and shade patterns in your garden will give you a good analysis of the space you plan on gardening in and a clear idea of what plants you can grow there with success.
Remember this very simple rule: if you are growing plants that will set flowers that turn into fruit—such as tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, squashes, and other vegetables—they will require a lot of sunlight.
It takes sufficient photosynthesis to produce the required levels of sugars to make fruit of any real size, taste, and value for the gardener. Photosynthesis will produce sugars that will directly feed flowers and fruits. That is why sunlight is very important for these kinds of vegetables.
For a more specific list of plants that will thrive in your garden, and for further information on the amount of sunlight they will require, it is best to consult with your local independent nursery. They know what kind of plants you can grow and enjoy with immediate success.
Size Matters! It is the second most important variable for success. Container size is very important because the more soil volume that your plants have, the more water and nutrients will be available for their root systems. That will directly influence the size and quality of the vegetables and herbs you will harvest, so more is better. We have learned that tomatoes require a minimum of five gallons of soil in order to develop into full size plants, with the ability to produce fruits full of good taste and nutrition. Other vegetable crops can survive in containers with less soil volume, but even they would enjoy more soil and will produce larger, more bountiful crops in a larger container.
The material your container is made of also makes a big difference. Terracotta containers are always a good choice because they breathe with the soil and do not fluctuate to extreme temperatures quickly. Redwood is also a good. It will breathe and has the ability retain moisture and not dry out too quickly. There are also a wide variety of plastic containers you can choose from, and they will work just fine, but will require a little more watering than thicker, denser pots.
It is especially important to use mulch if you are planning on using a plastic container in order to retain as much moisture as possible. I would recommend using mulch with all containers. Plants in small containers will dry out quickly, so keep an extra close eye on these pots. Less plant foliage will mean less watering later. A larger plant will require more water. Pay close attention to all of your plants and water as often as they require it.
Just Go Organic!™ Soil is the source of life for every living thing on earth. It must be treated with respect, dignity, reverence, and the understanding that it is not “dirt”! It is alive with an abundance of beneficial living organisms that promote life for all plants, directly affecting the health of the plants and animals we consume. If the soil is healthy, the crop that is grown in it will be healthy. The type of soil or ”potting medium” you choose will have a large impact on your plants and their ability to produce an abundance of large, nutritious vegetables.
If you have a potting soil that you like, and have had good success, stick with it. Please make sure that the bagged potting soil you are using does not contain any chemicals, such as synthetic plant nutrients, which are common in bagged potting soils.
We recommend using Dr. Earth® Potting Soil™. It contains everything your vegetables will need to produce an abundant crop. Dr. Earth® Potting Soil™ contains Pro-Biotic™ beneficial soil microbes plus ecto and endo mycorrhizae, which help your seedlings and transplants get off to a great start. Dr. Earth® soil also retains the maximum amount of water and nutrients, while simultaneously making sure that the soil drains properly, to avoid fungal diseases that could destroy your plants quickly.
Feed Your Soil! You must feed the soil that will feed your plants’ root systems. Tomatoes and most other vegetables, especially in containers, will require a lot of fertilizer to live up to their full potential. In containers, the roots do not have the ability to tap into food reserves from the soil environment. What you provide for them is what they get. It is especially important to use Dr. Earth® Organic 5™ tomato, vegetable and herb fertilizer when growing vegetables in containers. Dr. Earth will feed the soil slowly and steadily, which in turn will feed the roots of your vegetable plants steadily and consistently. Organic 5™ is rich with a plethora of multi-minerals which your vegetables will take up. In return, you will benefit from these nutrients as you consume your harvest. Healthy soil equates to healthy vegetables.
Use Dr. Earth® fertilizer once at planting and repeat the application 2 to 3 months later depending on the length of your gardening season. Imagine the pleasure of having rich, tasty, and nutritious vegetables growing right outside your kitchen door.
Give your plants a shoulder to lean on! Exposing as many leaves to sunlight as possible will help to increase your harvest. Some of your vegetables will not require any support at all, but cucumbers, tomatoes, and other vine plants require support to keep them off the ground and growing in the desired location.
Air space between your plants is very important as well, to help minimize fungal diseases your plants may be exposed to. Air space will also aid beneficial insects and allow them to do their work more easily, as flowers are more accessible to them. When purchasing your seeds or transplants, ask your local independent nursery professional what type of support he or she recommends for the specific plants you plan to grow.
Milo Lou Shammas
Founder and Formulator