PostHeaderIcon Beginner’s Guide to Container Vegetable Gardening

Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t have a vegetable garden. With some creativity, apartment dwellers can also enjoy the satisfaction that comes from growing their own vegetables. All you need is a balcony, window sill, planter or any other sunny spot to start growing your favorite vegetables in a container garden.

Not only is container gardening suitable for planting vegetables, it can also be used to plant flowers and herbs. Here are 3 great tips that you wouldn’t want to miss if you want to have a successful container garden.

1.  Soil Requirements
Use an artificial soil composed mostly of peat moss.  To ensure your container plants grow well, you should use good soils such as Fafard or Pro-Mix as they use perlite, peat, and other ingredients to produce a soil that will not compact over the summer.

Real garden soil is not advisable for container gardens because it compacts and turns into concrete under the pressure of regular watering. When that happens, plant roots will stop growing because good open spaces are required for them to move into and absorb nutrients. Plants do not grow well in compacted and hard soils, hence it is not advisable to use real soil in your containers.

Artificial potting soil can be recycled from year to year. First, you dump it out of the container and chew it up with a shovel to cut up all of last year’s roots. Next, you can add about 10 % by volume of compost. Doing so will increases the air spaces and give your plants a boost in healthy nutrition.

2.  Nutrition for Plants
Remember to feed your plants weekly.  The engine of plant growth – Nitrogen, is water soluble and the dissolved nitrogen leaves from the bottom of the container as you water the plants from the top. I highly recommend using a fish-emulsion liquid feed with seaweed to supply all the trace nutrients that your plants require. You can consider using any liquid plant food (like Miracle Grow or Shultz) to promote growth.  Compost tea is the Cadillac of liquid plant food. If you make your own compost tea, your plants will definitely respond with bigger and superior blooms as well as increased vitality.

3.  Good Drainage System
Without a good drainage system, your container plant roots will rot. You should always have drainage holes, or have 1-2 inches of gravel at the bottom of the pot or container. Consider drilling holes in your pot if it doesn’t come with it. Alternatively, you may also plant your plant in a plastic container with holes and insert it into your decorative pot.

And finally, regardless of the size of the container, it is important to soak it all the way to the bottom at each watering.  Continue watering until water emerges from the pot bottom.  This ensures the roots can reach all parts of the container and grow properly.

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