If you’re running short on space or prefer to contain your edibles, vegetables can be easily grown in containers or raised beds. You are only limited by the size of the container you choose. A common misconception is that you’ll need a lot of space for raised beds, but they don’t have to be huge. The only difference between containers and raised beds is that containers are movable. There are several advantages to growing vegetables in containers and raised beds: Drainage is better, the soil warms up a little faster and roots actually grow better. Also raised beds make it easier to manage your garden overall, allowing control of bugs and weeds. When planting a vegetable garden in a contained space, there are a few things to consider: how large the plants will grow, whether they will grow large enough to produce fruit and whether the quantity of plants can grow without one variety taking over completely.
For larger pots, you can often plant several different vegetables together to create mini-gardens. Try growing your own lettuce mix by planting several different varieties in the same pot. Train peas up a small trellis and plant herbs below. For smaller pots, stick to single varieties of vegetable or plan an herb bowl that you will harvest frequently.
When planting your containers, use fresh potting soil. We recommend using E.B. Stone Organics Edna’s Best Potting Soil, an organic potting soil with beneficial soil microbes that will help your crops grow their best. Use an appropriate amount of E.B. Stone Organics Tomato and Vegetable Food at the time of planting to make sure your new starts have the right nutrients available to them from the beginning.
Container plants rely on you to provide them with everything when it comes to fertilizing. As the vegetable grows, it will continue to require more food. Once established, you can fertilize every other week. Continue using E.B. Stone Organics Tomato and Vegetable Food, but alternate feedings with Fish Emulsion.
Almost everyone waters their plants more often than they require. Learning to manage your watering is important in two ways: The first being that every time you water, some fertilizer will wash away, and secondly, you want to allow the soil to dry out enough in between watering to promote a healthy root system. Learn to water more effectively by watching your plants and checking the soil before you water. Wilting does not always indicate that the soil is dry. A plant could wilt because it can’t pick up water fast enough. Check the soil 4-6 inches down, maybe as far as half the depth of the container, to determine whether or not the soil is wet. If you are uncertain, wait until the sun goes down and look at your plants again. If they are still wilting, water well and deep. Let the pot fill and drain a couple of times to ensure that you have wet all the soil in the container. Generally, watering should be done early in the day so the area has time to dry before nightfall. Plants that are in a wet area or have wet foliage for extended periods of time are prone to disease issues.
Try these fun garden ideas in a container the size of a half wine barrel or 24-inch pot:
Pole beans in the center, with lettuce and basil around the base.
One tomato plant in the center, with thyme, lemon thyme, oregano and basil around the base.
Italian herb garden: Italian parsley, Genovese basil, oregano & thyme.
Thai basil garden: Thai basil, Lemon basil, flat leaf parsley, green bunching onions, cilantro & lemon grass.