Container Gardening – The answer to growing food in small spaces
Container gardening for food is one of the greatest options available to those of us who do not have large gardens, or have access to areas where more traditional gardening can be achieved.
It is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding. It’s also an extremely versatile and flexible way of growing plants, and more importantly, food in otherwise awkward or redundant areas of our homes.
This website is all about proving you don’t need large spaces or lots of money to grow your own fabulous healthy food!
Grow Food regardless of available space
I based this whole website on the theme of container gardening for food, for people living with limited growing space, such as patio or courtyard gardens, balconies or window ledges.
Containers make growing food possible where otherwise it may not be grown.
Square foot gardening
, vertical gardening, raised bed gardening and numerous other styles of small-space-orientated gardening are all essentially variations of basic container gardening, and thanks to these different styles and techniques, even the smallest, least garden-like areas of the home or office can boast a high yielding crop of fruits, vegetables or flowers for you to enjoy.
There are a lot of advantages in container gardening, not least of which that you are able to move your plants position easily, perfect if they do not appear happy in their current position, or if you have to bring then indoors because of an unexpected frost.
Click here to see my page (with sketches) on Garden Layout Ideas and Planning.
No Need For Expensive Containers
The versatility afforded through container gardening is second to none, and it doesn’t just have to be done using traditional container pots either.
Old barrels, pots and pans, coke bottles cut in half, old kettles, buckets, watering cans, wheelbarrows, cookie tins, and a myriad of other everyday items can be used successfully for growing in. If it can hold soil, you can put some drainage holes in the bottom, and it’s large enough for your plant needs, then you can use it as a container! Just let your imagination run free!
Not just for outdoors
It should also be noted that container gardening isn’t just limited to outside either. If you live in a flat, high-rise or apartment with no garden or outside access area, then your crops will do just as well, if not even better indoors. All you need is an area where natural light is allowed to shine for at least a few hours each day. In the less light areas container gardening can still be possible, just grow shade-loving plants instead.
Some Simple Rules for a Successful Crop
There are very few rules to container gardening, but here are a few of the important ones:
1. Your containers must have drainage holes to prevent your plants from drowning. Obviously if your containers are indoors, you’ll need some kind of tray beneath them to save your carpet!
2. Understand that once your plants start to grow, they will need to be tended. Watering every day is essential. Neglect container plants at your peril, especially vegetables! It is a fast and usually one-way-track to loosing them.
3. Turn-over the soil well at each new planting cycle, and remove any old root’s and plant matter before planting your new crop. This will also avoid the soil compacting, giving you higher yields. It is also worth considering sterilising the soil prior to use, or completely replacing it. You can pour the old soil into a composter (as long as it is not diseased), otherwise disgard the old soil.
4. Use an appropriate sized pot for the plant being grown, and don’t overfill a pot with plants – they will just crowd each other out, and you will get a poor crop.
The Sun’s UV Rays Can Be Destructive
One of the downsides to gardening in containers is that some pots, in particular the cheap plastic ones do not fair too well with prolonged exposure to the sun’s light. You may find that after a few years, or in some cases after just a season or two, they can start to go brittle and crack.
You tend to notice this the first time you go to move the pots – when they start to disintegrate in your hands!
Obviously ceramic and stone type outdoor pots are best, but can be quite costly to buy.
I have read that some people have tried using reusable grocery bags as inexpensive planters, only to find that within just a few months they have started to disintegrate and split open under the sun’s powerful UV rays.
Personally I think that a safer bet is to go for buckets that have a slight rubbery content to them. I find they have a tendency to not dry-out as much.
I’ve found the cheap ones you can get at large DIY and Builders stores such as Wickes in the UK, are particularly suited to the job, and at 99p each they’re pretty cheap too.