Edible Container Gardening 101
Edible container gardening is a great way to grow vegetables especially when there is no space for a traditional garden. If you live in a condominium or an apartment, containers can provide valuable growing options. A container on casters gives you the ability to move your vegetables to sun or shade, depending on what you want to grow and the time of year. With good, fertile potting soil and a topping of protective mulch you can get by with minimal water.
If you have never tried growing edibles in a container or have not had much success, here are five key considerations that will greatly enhance your efforts.
It is important to match the size of your pot to the types of vegetables you want to grow. Bowl shaped pots that are somewhat shallow, approximately 8 to 10 inches, can be great for growing lettuces and other leafy greens. Peppers, cucumbers, beans and larger growing herbs need a deeper pot, 12- 18 inches. Tomatoes like pots that are 18-24 inches deep and about 12-14 inches in diameter.
I recommend choosing an organic potting soil that includes lots of good compost, organic nutrients and important beneficial soil microbiology. EB Stone’s 420 blend has all of these ingredients. Plants grow well in pots when they have a rich growing medium and regular watering. Purchasing top quality potting soil is key to growing healthy, productive plants in containers.
WHERE TO LOCATE YOUR EDIBLE GARDEN
Sunlight and favorable temperatures are also important to growing healthy plants. Observe how much sun exposure your selected area gets. Morning sun with shade in the afternoon is good for growing leafy greens such as lettuces, arugula or kale. Sun all day is great for tomatoes and peppers. Shade loving plants like the ambient temperature range of 56-75 degrees. Full sun loving plants are comfortable in the temperature range of 60 to the mid to upper 80’s. You may find that you have spots in and around your home to grow a bit of both. Remember that the sunlight and temperature will vary throughout the year. So you may need to make adjustments to what you want to grow and/or move containers from season to season.
Good organic potting soil will contain necessary organic nutrients. These nutrients not only provide an important food source for your plants, but also for the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Beneficial soil microbiology will help plants grow strong, nutrient dense and more disease resistant. I also recommend an all-purpose fish/kelp liquid fertilizer applied once weekly throughout the growing season to ensure that your edibles have access to a full range of organic nutrients.
Plants in pots need regular, efficient watering as they can become dry more quickly than when planted in the ground. Water until you see it coming out of the drain hole at the bottom of the pot. This means that you have watered completely through the root zone. Fertile potting soil and a layer of mulch will help retain moisture. As you get to know your growing environment you will be able to fine-tune your watering schedule.
Once you have experienced success with your container garden, you can take growing to the next level by planting your favorite crops in succession over the course of the growing season, which is all year in our neck of the woods! So don’t plant everything all at once. Start a little at a time with strategic new plantings at four, eight and twelve week intervals. Leafy greens can be successively grown every four to six weeks. Longer growing crops can be planted every eight to twelve weeks.
Now you are ready to get started or advance your edible container gardening efforts. With some good observation for growing potential in and around your home and care to provide your edibles with a good growing environment you will enjoy successful harvests well into the future.
Special Event: Eye of the Day will be hosting a special Edible Container Gardening Workshop with Oscar Carmona on Saturday, June 27th. For more information and to reserve your spot, please visit the event page.