If you do not have space for a traditional vegetable garden, consider
raising fresh, nutritious, homegrown vegetables in containers. A
window-box, patio, balcony or even just a doorstep can provide
sufficient space for a productive container veggie garden.
vegetables that take up little space – such as carrots, radishes, and
lettuce or crops that yield over a period of time, such as tomatoes and
The amount of sunlight that your container garden receives
may determine which crops can be grown. Generally, root crops and leaf
crops can tolerate partial shade. Vegetables grown for their fruits
generally need at least 5 hours of full, direct sunlight each day, but
perform better with 8 to 10 hours.
Available light can be increased
somewhat by providing reflective materials around the plants, such as
aluminum foil, white-painted surfaces or marble chips.
are many possible containers for gardening. Clay, wood, plastic, ceramic and
metal are some of the suitable materials.
Containers for vegetable
# be big enough to support plants when they are fully grown
# hold soil without spilling
# have adequate drainage
# never have held products that would be toxic to plants or people
They don't have to been originally made for the job - re-purposing is fun and many an old wine barrel, washstand, wheelbarrow, metal trunk, milk-churn and even bath-tubs and toilet bowls have found new life as a container for plants to grow in.
Consider using flower pots, window boxes, pottery planters or baskets
lined with plastic (with drainage holes punched in it). If you are
building a planting box out of wood, you should use rot-resistant hardwood
or treated pine – provided that its thick enough to take the weight.
Whatever type of container you use, be sure that there are holes
in the bottom for drainage so that plant roots do not stand in water.
Most plants need containers at least 15-20cms deep for adequate root
A fairly lightweight potting mix is needed for container
vegetable gardening. Soil straight from the garden usually cannot be
used in a container because it may be too heavy, unless your garden has
sandy loam or sandy soil. Clay soil consists of extremely small
(microscopic) particles. In a container, the undesirable qualities of
clay are worse. It holds too much moisture when wet, resulting in too
little air for the roots.
Packaged potting soil available at local garden centres is
relatively lightweight and may make a good container medium. Soil-less
mixes such as a peat-lite mix are generally too light for container
vegetable gardening, since they usually will not support plant roots
sufficiently. If the container is also lightweight, a strong wind can
blow plants over, resulting in major damage. Also,
soil-less mixes are sterile and contain few nutrients, so even
though major fertilizers are added, no trace elements are available for
good plant growth. Add potting soil if you wish to use a peat-based
Plant container crops at the same time you would if you were
planting a regular garden. Fill a clean container to within a few
centimetres of the top with the slightly dampened soil mixture.
the seeds or set transplants according to instructions on the seed
package. Put a label with the name, variety and date of planting on or
in each container. After planting, gently soak the soil with water,
being careful not to wash out or displace seeds.
Thin out seedlings to
obtain proper spacing when the plants have two or three leaves. If
cages, stakes, or other supports are needed, provide them when the
plants are very small to avoid later root damage.
Pay particular attention to watering container plants. Because
the volume of soil is relatively small, containers can dry out very
quickly, especially on a concrete patio in full sun.
Daily or even twice-daily watering may be necessary. Apply water
until it runs out the drainage holes. On an upstairs balcony this may
create problems with the neighbours, so make provisions for water
drainage. Large trays filled with coarse marble chips work nicely.
However, the soil should never be soggy or have water standing on top of
When the weather is cool, container plants may be subject to root
rot if maintained too wet. Clay pots and other porous containers allow
additional evaporation from the sides of the pots and watering must be
done more often. Small pots also tend to dry out more quickly than
If the soil appears to be getting excessively dry (plants
wilting every day is one sign), group the containers together so that
the foliage creates a canopy to help shade the soil and keep it cool.
On a hot patio, you might consider putting containers on pallets
or other structures that will allow air movement beneath the pots and
prevent direct contact with the cement. Check containers at least once a
day and twice on hot, dry or windy days. Feel the soil to determine
whether or not it is damp. Mulching and windbreaks can help reduce
water requirements for containers.
If you use a soil mix with fertilizer added, then your plants
will have enough nutrients for eight to 10 weeks. If plants are grown
longer than this, add a water-soluble fertilizer such as Thrive or
Nitrosol at the recommended rate.Repeat every two to three weeks.
occasional dose of fish emulsion, compost or a Seaweed extract like
Seasol will add trace elements to the soil.
Do not add more than the
recommended rate of any fertilizer, since this may cause fertilizer burn
and kill the plants.
Container plants do not have the buffer of large
volumes of soil and humus to protect them from overfertilizing. Just
because a little is good for the plant does not guarantee that a lot
will be better.
And finally if your chosen veggies that will grow tall, then don't forget to provide them with support. These snow peas won't grow particularly tall but some bamboo sticks and garden twine will help keep the fruits well supported and allow the air to circulate minimising pest and disease problems.