For people that live in condominium, apartments, or just don’t have a large back yard, container vegetable gardening is a viable solution to a backyard garden. While it is true you still need a location for your containers that get adequate sun, there are certain varieties that require less sun than others, if this is a limiting factor for you. You must however select a good container, make a proper soil mix, water your plants, and fertilize your plants.
Containers come in a variety of sizes and different materials. Many popular containers are made of wood, plastic, ceramic, or clay. The key factor to selecting a container is it must allow for adequate drainage, which means it must have some holes in the bottom. As soil that is kept too wet, will breed diseases very easily. You can simply set a container on either bricks or wood, and this will allow excess water to flow out of the hole in the bottom of the container. While many people select a container color to match the surrounding areas, it is important to note that a black container will absorb more heat, and could in fact hurt the root development of your plants. The depth of the container depends on the crop you want to grow. Crops that don’t have deep roots such as lettuce, radishes, and herbs only need to be about eight inches deep. Crops that do send roots deep such as tomatoes, and cucumbers should have a much deeper bottom if you want to have successful plants. A tomato plant will generally need a minimum of 3 gallons of soil for a regular plants, and 1 gallon of soil for a cherry tomato. Two pepper plants can be grown in a two gallon container.
The best type of soil mix for a container is actually a “soil less” potting mix. These types of mixes allow for fast and easy drainage, and are less susceptible to diseases. If you want to make your own mix you can use a combination of garden soil, sand, peat moss, and peat humus. Since you are using garden soil it is best to bake it in an oven at 220F for at least one hour to kill any insects, disease, bacteria, or fungi that may be present.
If you have chosen to use a soil less mix, it is important that you fertilizer your container vegetables, as this mix has very little nutrients. While some people feel that if a little fertilize is good, more is better, resist this temptation. Over-fertilizing actually hurts your plants more than it helps them. So make sure you follow the instructions that the manufacturer has provided. Since your plants are in containers they will need water more frequently than plants in the ground. This is because the sun will dry out the soil much quicker as there is less soil to dry out.
When you are selection vegetables for your container garden, make sure to select varieties that are suited to containers. Many vegetables will have certain hybrids that are breed just for containers. They will be more compact, and therefore are better suited to containers. Here are some suggestions for varieties that are best suited for containers. For cucumbers: Bush Pickle, and Spacemaster. For tomatoes: Tiny Tim, Patio, and Tumbing Tom. For lettuce: Bibb, and Buttercrunch. For squash: Senator, and Dixie. For Pepper: Red Cherry, and Yolo Wonder.