Mini Container GardensYou can’t beat the taste of fresh vegetables.  There is nothing like it.

Store bought food just doesn’t compare.  And have you seen the price of organic produce?  Just because you don’t live on a farm or have a large backyard, you shouldn’t miss out or deny yourself the satisfying luxury of having real food at your fingertips.

Do you know that you can grow just about any type of veggie or plant in some kind of container?  I had never really thought about it having spent most of my life on a large farm.  For lots of reasons, I have downsized, but I still have enough land to have a nice garden.  With the extra time on my hands I have begun to discover Container Gardening.

Advantages of Container Gardens

  • You have control of the quality of the soil
  • Fresh veggies and herbs year round
  • Easy on the pocket book
  • Less issues with disease
  • Can be grown anywhere they have access to 6-8 hours of sunlight.
  • Can be moved inside to extend your growing season and to protect them from frost or cold.

Small Mini gardens will flourish on patios, door steps, stoops, windowsills, a balcony or porch, indoors and out.  Whether you live in a city apartment, a condo, a small duplex or home with just a tiny postage stamp yard, you can easily grow enough veggies for you and your family.  You will be amazed by the amount of fresh produce you can harvest from a few square feet of ground or several pots and containers.  You are only limited by your imagination.

Container gardens provide you with fresh vegetables, access to fresh herbs to use as you cook, fresh salads year round.  Little pot gardens are perfect for the whole family and a great project for the kids to participate in.

You can grow your plants in soil or just water, which is called hydroponics gardening.  Plants don’t really require much from you.  Just provide a container, soil or growing media, water, nutrients, light and a little bit of time for care for them and watch them grow.

Suitable Gardening Contains?

You can purchase all types of Gardening Containers or build them.  Build your own garden shed or raised garden beds.

Need some building plans for your home or garden?  All the design plans you need with over 150 videos to walk you through can be found here.

If carpentry doesn’t interest you, just take a look around your home and I’m sure you can find many ideal containers. Here are a few ideas:

  • 5 gallon plastic buckets,
  • An old laundry basket or
  • Regular plastic pots
  • Fancy clay planters,
  • Wooden containers like half whiskey barrels,
  • Bushel baskets
  • Big metal tubs
  • Wire baskets,
  • Nursery flats,
  • Window planters,
  • Washtubs,
  • Old trash cans,
  • Crates – metal, plastic, wood or wire,
  • Milk cartons,
  • Even Plastic bags or burlap sacks can be used.

You can even plant your garden salad n one larger container.  One tomato plant, a cucumber plant, some lettuce, parsley and chives all in one 30″ container.  Discover plants that compliment each other and mix up your potted plants.  Let your imagination go wild and crazy.

Container or Pot Requirements

Things you need to consider are:

  1. Large enough to support the plants when they are full grown
  2. The container needs to be able to hold soil – if there are large holes in the container you may need to line it with plastic.
  3. Always make sure to provide adequate drainage

Container Size

Adequate size is one of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing a plant container.  You need to think about how large a particular type of plant will grow and choose a container that will support the full grown size.

The smallest size you should use is 12-18″, although smaller pots are fine for most herbs.  Bigger is always better.  Smaller pots are fine for herbs.  Larger vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant need 5 gallon containers.

Proper Drainage

The most important thing to remember when choosing a container is to make sure it has proper drainage in and around the bottom.  Ideally holes should be about 1/2″ from the bottom around the sides of the pot in addition to a central hole in the bottom.  Place gravel or stones in the bottom or have a screen to prevent the soil from washing out the holes.  Using Terracotta or Clay pots require more attention as the clay absorbs lots of water.

You may want to stay away from black or dark colored containers as they will absorb and retain heat and too much heat could cause root damage.

Choosing Your Soil

It is best to use commercial soil for your container garden.  Even better is a soilless mix which may be composed of wood chips, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite or sawdust.  These are weed and disease free, hold moisture and nutrients, drain well and are lightweight.  Lightweight, loose, porous, stay moist, but drain well.  A good mix of peatmoss, vermiculite and perlite works best.  Be sure to always wet the mix thoroughly before seeding or transplanting.

You don’t want to use regular garden soil as it is usually too dense and won’t provide the proper aeration and drainage properties when planting in containers or flower pots.

Nutrients

Nutrients need to be added to potting mixes unless you purchase a mix that already has fertilizer added.  Slow release fertilizer pellets can be added to the soil at planting time.  Or water soluble fertilizer can be added as the plants grow.  If you have a wilting plant or you want to give your new seedlings a boost, offer them some compost tea.

Water

Plants in containers require more frequent watering as the soil and plants dry out much faster in pots than they do when grown in the ground.  During hot dry weather, you may need to water more than once.  Don’t wait for the plant to wilt before watering.   Too much water is also fatal.  Always feel the soil before watering.  If you only need to water once a day, give your plants a drink of water in the morning is best.

Hydrogels are starch based water holding gels and popular for container gardeners.  They absorb 100 times their weight in water and slowly release that water into the soil as it dries.  If you decide to use Hydrogels, they should be mixed in the soil before planting.

Light

Plants should have access to sunlight at least 6 hours per day.  If you live in an apartment you should have your plants sitting in an area that receives the most sunlight during the day.  If that is not possible you may have to supplement sunlight with grow lights.  A major advantage to having your garden in contains is that they may be moved to gain better light.

Plant Variety

New varieties of plants are introduced every year as more and more people discover container gardening.  Be sure to learn about the plant variety you want to put in your container.  Some varieties of plants are not suitable as they grow too large for a container.  Some climbing plants like beans, peas or cucumbers require a stake tee-pee for climbing.  Larger tomato and pepper plants require a stake or cage to give them support.

Be sure to read the seed or plant label and look for these important words which will indicate if that particular variety of plant is better suitable for container gardens.  Many newer plant varieties are grown specifically for container gardens.

  1. Compact,
  2. Bush,
  3. Space saver,
  4. Dwarf

Some of the easiest plants to grow in containers are:

  • Peas,
  • Tomatoes,
  • Peppers,
  • Carrots,
  • Cucumbers,
  • Eggplant,
  • Summer squash,
  • Zucchini,
  • Chives,
  • Herbs,
  • Beans,
  • Radishes,
  • Lettuce, and
  • Green onions.

Due to their large size, there are a few types of plants you may not want to try growing in a container.  Some of these vegetables that do best on larger pieces of land are:

  • Corn,
  • Large melons and
  • Large pumpkins.