Thinking of growing some vegetables and herbs in containers? Well, there’s every reason to do so! Whether the space or time you have to grow is limited, or you simply want an easier start to your homegrown hobby, pots of produce make good sense.
Being able to step outside to pick fresh herbs or perhaps a tomato or two is the last word in delicious convenience. Furthermore, by growing herbs and veggies in pots, you can tailor the environment they are growing in to exactly match their requirements – offering, for example, the ideal potting soil or exposure to sun.
Pots are easy to look after because you can deliver what’s needed more efficiently, meaning better use of water and fertilizer. Plants grown out of the ground won’t suffer from soil-borne pests and diseases either, so you can often expect a trouble-free ride to harvest.
Almost any vegetable or herb will grow in a container – you just need to make sure that the pot size suits what you want to grow in it. As a general rule, bigger pots require less maintenance. If a pot is too small it will dry out quicker, creating a stressful environment for your plants. However, too big and you’ll be spending more than you need to on potting soil.
Smaller plants, like many herbs, lettuces and strawberries will be happy in pots starting at just 10-inches diameter. Larger plants such as broccoli, bush tomatoes or cabbages will need pot diameters of up to 18 inches, while for the biggest vegetables, like artichoke or summer squash, only a minimum pot diameter of 24-inches will do. Most veggies prefer deeper pots, though shallow rooters such as lettuce will be happy in a pot that is, say, six-inches deep.
In the mix
Healthy plants need a good potting mix (or potting soil) to encourage a healthy root system. The ideal potting mix holds onto moisture while giving a just-so balance of air, nutrition and support for the roots.
As container vegetables and herbs will be getting all of their nutritional requirements from the potting mix they are grown in, it pays to buy the highest quality potting mix you can. A natural, absorbent mix such as Nature’s Care Organic and Natural Potting Mix will keep plants fed for at least a month after planting, ensuring a seamless transition into their new home.
Store your potting soil in a dry place where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate to extremes. Keep opened bags sealed or place them into a clean plastic tub or garbage can to keep the potting mix clean.
Tender loving care
It isn’t difficult to keep container plants happy. All that’s needed is a little attention and your plants won’t just survive, they’ll thrive. Here are some simple tips to make the task easier – and your plants happier.
Thirsty work Regularly check the potting mix of container grown veggies and herbs for moisture. If the top inch is dry, it’s time to water. Pay particular attention in hot, sunny or windy weather, when plants dry out quicker.
Save water Cluster pots together or set up a drip irrigation system to save time on watering. Adding a layer of organic mulch such as straw or soil conditioner will help to conserve moisture by slowing evaporation. Mulch will also shade the soil, keeping roots cooler in hot summers.
Feeding time Once the fertilizer within the potting soil is exhausted it’s time to begin feeding your plants. Choose a fertilizer suitable for what you are growing. For example, fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers will need a potassium-rich feed to encourage fruit production. Always follow the label instructions so you apply the right amount of feed.