All Posts   Posted:   May 20, 2016 by Nicole Forbes - Dennis' 7 Dees Education

Whether you have a little space or a lot, container gardening is an easy way to create an inviting and relaxing outdoor space and add enjoyment to the seasons. While many people might settle for a collection of pots overflowing with colorful annual flowers, why stop there? Growing edibles in containers is easy, rewarding, and adds a practical element to your landscape while also providing attractive foliage with colorful fruits and veggies.

For urban gardeners, container-grown edibles may be their best or only chance to raise food crops at home. Growing food in containers requires less weeding and digging and is a great alternative for those who may be physically unable to tend in-ground plantings. Over the past several years plant breeders and hybridizers have been busy creating vegetable and berry cultivars with dwarf or compact habits that are better suited to small garden plots and limited space. Although they require less weeding, stooping and digging, it is critical to consider that container plants need more attention than plants growing in the ground as they rely solely on you for all their needs.

It is easy to keep potted plants healthy and productive; let’s go over the basics:

Soil

Always use quality potting soil (never garden soil), plant in appropriate-sized container (at least 12” deep) with adequate drainage

Watering

When it is warm and sunny, most containers will need daily watering; test moisture levels by feeling the weight of the container or by putting a finger into the soil up to the first joint, water when container feels light or soil feels dry. It can be a challenge to learn how much and how often to water so your plants get enough but not too much; water your containers until the water comes out the holes in the bottom of the pot. Cover potting soil surface with mulch to reduce water evaporation between waterings.

Fertilizer

Most edible plant selections require supplemental nutrition to be as productive as possible and without adequate fertilizer, plants become vulnerable to the stresses of insects or diseases and often deliver lower than usual harvest yields. Slow-release, organic fertilizer is best added at planting time and reapplied monthly. In addition to the slow-release granular fertilizer, plants can be given a liquid feeding that rapidly provides water soluble nutrients when needed. Liquid fertilizing may be most necessary when plants are growing quickly and or being watered frequently but can generally be applied about every 2-3 weeks.  

Exposure

Most edible plant selections require at least 6 hours of sunlight to reach their full potential; grow shade-tolerant edibles in areas with less than 6 hours of sun. Protect container plantings from weather extremes such as intense temperatures or high winds.

 

Specially developed edible plant varieties for container growing are compact, dwarf or slightly smaller overall. The list of vegetables that can be grown in containers is long and includes Bush beans, carrots, beets, chard, and cucumbers on trellises, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, pak choi, peppers, radish, scallions, spinach, certain squashes, cherry tomatoes & determinate tomato varieties. Some new varieties to look for: Tasty Patio Black and Tasty Patio Yellow zucchini, Spacemaster cucumber, Little Leaf Pickling cucumber, Tom Thumb pea, Little Gem lettuce, Little Bells or Mini Bells sweet pepper, Little Fingers or Parmex carrots. Don’t even get me started listing the herbs, berries or fruit trees that are great for containers – just know that figs, blueberries, raspberries, and fresh gourmet herbs await you.

Are you hungry yet? Stop into one of our garden centers locations to check out our selection of edibles plants and chat with one of our experts about how to get started today. In no time you will be harvesting a bountiful feast from your garden, even if that garden is no more than a collection of pots on your deck or balcony. Should you ever harvest more than you can eat from your garden just drop your excess fresh produce at one of our locations during business hours on a Wednesday or Friday and we will take it to a local food pantry for donation to those in need; look into our Plant a Row for the Hungry program for more details.

Whether you have a little space or a lot, container gardening is an easy way to create an inviting and relaxing outdoor space and add enjoyment to the seasons. While many people might settle for a collection of pots overflowing with colorful annual flowers, why stop there? Growing edibles in containers is easy, rewarding, and adds a practical element to your landscape while also providing attractive foliage with colorful fruits and veggies.

For urban gardeners, container-grown edibles may be their best or only chance to raise food crops at home. Growing food in containers requires less weeding and digging and is a great alternative for those who may be physically unable to tend in-ground plantings. Over the past several years plant breeders and hybridizers have been busy creating vegetable and berry cultivars with dwarf or compact habits that are better suited to small garden plots and limited space. Although they require less weeding, stooping and digging, it is critical to consider that container plants need more attention than plants growing in the ground as they rely solely on you for all their needs.

It is easy to keep potted plants healthy and productive; let’s go over the basics:

Soil

Always use quality potting soil (never garden soil), plant in appropriate-sized container (at least 12” deep) with adequate drainage

Watering

When it is warm and sunny, most containers will need daily watering; test moisture levels by feeling the weight of the container or by putting a finger into the soil up to the first joint, water when container feels light or soil feels dry. It can be a challenge to learn how much and how often to water so your plants get enough but not too much; water your containers until the water comes out the holes in the bottom of the pot. Cover potting soil surface with mulch to reduce water evaporation between waterings.

Fertilizer

Most edible plant selections require supplemental nutrition to be as productive as possible and without adequate fertilizer, plants become vulnerable to the stresses of insects or diseases and often deliver lower than usual harvest yields. Slow-release, organic fertilizer is best added at planting time and reapplied monthly. In addition to the slow-release granular fertilizer, plants can be given a liquid feeding that rapidly provides water soluble nutrients when needed. Liquid fertilizing may be most necessary when plants are growing quickly and or being watered frequently but can generally be applied about every 2-3 weeks.  

Exposure

Most edible plant selections require at least 6 hours of sunlight to reach their full potential; grow shade-tolerant edibles in areas with less than 6 hours of sun. Protect container plantings from weather extremes such as intense temperatures or high winds.

 

Specially developed edible plant varieties for container growing are compact, dwarf or slightly smaller overall. The list of vegetables that can be grown in containers is long and includes Bush beans, carrots, beets, chard, and cucumbers on trellises, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, pak choi, peppers, radish, scallions, spinach, certain squashes, cherry tomatoes & determinate tomato varieties. Some new varieties to look for: Tasty Patio Black and Tasty Patio Yellow zucchini, Spacemaster cucumber, Little Leaf Pickling cucumber, Tom Thumb pea, Little Gem lettuce, Little Bells or Mini Bells sweet pepper, Little Fingers or Parmex carrots. Don’t even get me started listing the herbs, berries or fruit trees that are great for containers – just know that figs, blueberries, raspberries, and fresh gourmet herbs await you.

Are you hungry yet? Stop into one of our garden centers locations to check out our selection of edibles plants and chat with one of our experts about how to get started today. In no time you will be harvesting a bountiful feast from your garden, even if that garden is no more than a collection of pots on your deck or balcony. Should you ever harvest more than you can eat from your garden just drop your excess fresh produce at one of our locations during business hours on a Wednesday or Friday and we will take it to a local food pantry for donation to those in need; look into our Plant a Row for the Hungry program for more details.