FRUIT & VEGETABLE GARDENING - Growing in Containers

July 27, 2009

FRUIT & VEGETABLE GARDENING - Growing in Containers

I’m a great fan of growing things in pots and containers, which can turn even the tiniest outside area into a fruit and vegetable garden.
Herbs, vegetables and flowers can all be grown in troughs and pots and I have seen gardens where old artifacts have been used for fun or of necessity and they have worked well.

I grow virtually all plants in containers and have decided on terracotta clay pots, (or terracotta colored plastic which can be very practical if you’re planting something heavy that may need moving) and white troughs or window boxes. 
This gives me a neat framework for my plants to be untidy in! There are some beautiful pots available these days and gathering a collection together can really be a source of visual pleasure in your garden.
The three points when choosing pots are:

Size – Whatever your chosen container, choose one that is at least as deep as it is wide and be sure that is big enough to take your chosen planting, leaving an inch or so at the top for water. 
However it is never a good idea to put a tiny plant in a big pot, hoping it will grow into it - small plant, small pot is the rule every time. Gardening books often mention ‘crocking’ pots - putting a layer of broken pots, bricks, or tiles to aid drainage. I usually just put a small plastic pot saucer upside down over the drainage hole so that the compost doesn’t fall through. 
The one time a layer of clay tiles – or broken bricks – can be very helpful is if your plant is likely to grow top heavy - the bottom weight may keep it from toppling over.

Water – As previously said, not little and often, but a healthy soaking before the compost has completely dried out. Water conservation is of course important – my feeling is that by giving each plant what it needs and not just splashing the stuff around I’m using the water pretty efficiently.

Fertilizing – Is necessary. Once you have a plant in a container, it’s like a pet in your home, which can’t forage for food for itself so you have to look after its needs. You often hear professional gardeners say “half as strong, [as it says on the box or bottle] and twice as often”. From long experience I would say yes to the first, but no to twice as often - just use the appropriate fertilizer for your plants sparingly for the best results.
As always, 
Happy horticulture,