Grow an Amazing Container Garden of Food

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Robbi, Eng, Lynn and 2 others

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There is nothing quite like the pleasure of eating a tomato fresh from your own garden, or picking sweet basil that will go directly into your bowl of pasta. This is usually a privilege that only people with back yards can enjoy, but more and more urban dwellers today are looking for ways to grow their own food - even if they live in condominiums or space-challenged apartments. These creative gardeners have discovered the wonders of growing food in containers and with a little patience, it is a delightful hobby that you too can learn.

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The History of Container Gardening

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Many tend to think of container gardening as an activity that has resulted from modern living and the marked lack of space in urban living quarters. Actually, history is replete with records of how people have always loved to grow plants in containers. This is attested to by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the ancient art of bonsai in China and Japan, roof gardens in Greece during the third century, and European greenhouses dating back from the 1600s.

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The fascination of people with growing plants in containers has been sustained for centuries. In contemporary times, growing food in containers has become a passionate focus for people who want to put organic vegetables on their table.

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Where Can You Do Your Gardening?

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Most people who live in condominiums and apartments will say they want fresh vegetables, but they have no place to garden. If you feel the same way, it is time to take a good look at the possibility of gardening within your limited space by using containers. Every little bit of space where you can put a pot or even old cans can be part of your garden. Here are some ideas for spaces to use:

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  • A window sill with enough sunlight. Herbs will do very well in small pots lined up on a windowsill.
  • A wall that has sun more than half of the day. You can construct several rows of lightweight pots against a wall to grow an assortment of leafy vegetables.
  • A small veranda that gets sun at least six hours daily. You can line up the bigger pots on your veranda.

Why Growing Food in Containers is Such a Good Idea

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There are times when the prices of vegetables and fruits are so low, you might wonder if planting a garden is still worth the effort. If you think of vegetables in terms of dollars and cents, you will probably nix the idea of laboring over seedlings, watering pots daily, and constantly keeping watch for the appearance of bugs. However, beyond immediate math there are factors you can use to assess the value of homegrown vegetables.

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  1. 1
    You can be sure that no harmful pesticides have gone into your food.{
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  2. 2
    You can choose vegetable varieties for their flavor or nutritional content instead of their shelf life.
    Supermarkets and wholesale grocers usually choose vegetables because they will last longer or travel better.
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  3. 3
    You can pick your vegetables exactly when they should be picked.
    Most of the vegetables available in stores are picked before they are ripe so that they ripen in time for shoppers to see them.
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  4. 4
    Your food won't spoil at the same rate because you can pick only what you need.
    You can say goodbye to finding bunches of wilted lettuce and overripe cucumber in your vegetable crisper.
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Choosing Your Container Vegetables

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Not all vegetables can grow well in a container garden, but there are quite a lot of plants that will. You won't run out of good vegetables to plant and enjoy.

You can actually grow the following climbing plants if you have space for a 5 gallon container:

  • Green beans: Bush Blue Lake, Bush Romano, Contender, and Tendercrop
  • Cucumber: Bush Champion, Salad Bush, Spacemaster
  • Peas: Mammoth Melting Sugar, Salad Bush
  • Summer Squash: Midnight, Pic-N-Pic
  • Tomatoes: Early Girl, Patio Princess, Pixie, Super Bush, Tumbling Tom, and Vilma
  • Winter Squash: Butterbush, Early Acorn, Honey Bear

You can also grow the following greens:

  • Swiss chard: Bright lights, rhubarb
  • Spinach: Melody, Long Standing Bloomsdale
  • Lettuce: Green Ice, Salas Bowl, Buttercrunch, Oakleaf, Tom Thumb, Little Gem

Plus, a variety of other goodies:

  • Eggplants: Black Beauty, Orlando, Patio Mohican
  • Pepper: Gypsy, Long Red, Cayenne New Ace
  • Broccoli: DeCicco, Green Comet, Small Miracle

On top of all that, you can have your own truly fresh herbs: Parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, chives, mint, oregano, tarragon, green onion, and cilantro.

Getting Started

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To start your own container garden, figure out where you will put your containers and which plants can do well with the amount of sunlight they will be getting. Don't buy seedlings until you have the area mapped out and you know how much sun your selected spots are getting. You will then be ready with information that will help your nursery find you the plants you need.

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In general, you should put your pots against a south facing wall if you live in a cold climate. If you live where the climate is warm, don't put your plants directly on a cement floor (which may get really hot). Put them on a cart instead so you can easily move them if you have to.

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Matching the Plants, the Containers, and the Soil

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Once you have an idea of the vegetables you want to plant, you can shop for seeds, seedlings, potting material and containers.

  • As a whole, containers that are 10 inches across and a foot deep will do well for most medium sized plants.
  • If you want to grow climbing vines such as cucumbers and regular tomatoes, you will need containers that are 20 inches wide and more than a foot deep.

As for the soil, the size of each pot will of course determine the amount of soil you need.

  • A 6-inch pot will need 3 pints of soil
  • A 12-inch pot will need 3.5 gallons of soil
  • A 20-inch pot will need 6.5 gallons of soil

Planting Your First Pots

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Begin your garden by starting with your first 10-20 pots. This will allow you to get the feel of your new hobby and allow you to become familiar with how well your plants will do where you originally place them.

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  1. 1
    Get yourself the herbs you use often and follow your nursery's instructions about where you should put them.
    Six of your favorite herbs won't be an excessive number to begin with. Do this over the weekend so you can observe the amount of heat the herbs are getting. Take care that they do not get sunburned.
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  2. 2
    Plant 2 to 3 containers of tomatoes.
    Get yourself a variety that doesn't need too big a pot and transplant your seedlings as instructed.
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  3. 3
    If you have the space and the inclination for it, start a climbing plant.
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  4. 4
    Lastly, start some chard or lettuce in a few pots.
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When you have all these pots filled, you will have what it takes to determine the possibilities for growing herbs, small greens, medium sized plants and climbing plants.

Caring for Your Plants

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As you become more comfortable with your new hobby, add as many plants as your space will accommodate.

  1. 1
    Watering your plants.
    See to it that your plants have the moisture they need by feeling the potting mixture. Insert a finger up to your second knuckle into the soil. The tip should not feel fried out.
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  2. 2
    Some busy gardeners make watering a little easier on themselves by installing an irrigation system that will continuously drip water onto the pots.
    Think of this as an option.
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  3. 3
    Fertilize about once a week after your vegetables have been planted for a month or a bit more.
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  4. 4
    Promptly remove bugs, infected leaves, and diseased plants.
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  5. 5
    Harvest your vegetables as soon as they reach the proper ripeness.
    Removing mature fruit will allow your plants to live longer and nourish new fruits and leaves.
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Tips and Warnings:

These tips and warnings will help you sustain your very worthwhile new hobby.

  • Try to get the container with the right depth and width for each plant.
  • Do not over-water your plants. If you do this accidentally, move the plant to a place with a cool breeze and let it dry out.
  • Hanging plants, plants in small pots, and flat containers generally dry out faster than standard pots. Check daily for dryness.
  • Learn to prune and cut back plants that have become scraggly.
  • If you are going to grow an organic garden, find out what "companion" plants you can cultivate in between your other plants to discourage bugs and other pests.
  • Plant what you want to harvest and eat.

Remember that container gardening isn't about saving a whole lot of money. It is about having healthier, fresher food on your table and the joy of getting it there.

Questions and Answers

How residents of condominiums or apartments can grow their own vegetables?

Give two suggestions as to how residents of condominiums or apartments can grow their own vegetables?. I have tried: Looking at websites. I think it was caused by: Lack of space It is a high rise building.

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You can grow tomatoes in containers on the patio/decks. Some people even have success growing squash, beans, and cucumbers up trellises in high rise apartments.

  1. 1
    Lettuce, beans, and tomatoes in containers:
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  2. 2
    Peppers
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  3. 3
    Potatoes are excellent for container gardens because you get a high yield for a small space.
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  4. 4
    Sugar Snap Peas in a hanging basket.
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  5. 5
    Tomatoes and herbs.
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Categories : Gardening

Recent edits by: Anonymous, Lynn, Eng

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