Imagine leaning out your kitchen window or balcony door to snip fresh veggies are for your salad or supper.
Container gardening (growing plants in pots instead of the ground) is a no-fuss approach that lets you start simple. It’s faster than having to create raised garden beds. And you don’t need to convert a traditional flower beds or tear up the turf on your lawn.
A kitchen container garden is an easy way to start planting edibles. Quick-growing crops like herbs, leafy greens, cherry tomatoes and scallions are the ideal starters for your deck, porch, patio or window.
Even though it’s early April, containers in my neighbourhood are already brimming over with lettuce, onions and herbs. Root vegetable seedlings can now planted directly into their permanent containers and set outdoors.
Edibles can grow pretty much anywhere: in hanging baskets, on fire escapes, window sills, or tucked into small outside spaces.
If your patio furniture is taking up too much room for a set of pots, you don’t need to compromise. Consider parking your patio umbrella into a solid sturdy container.
For a late-spring cold snap or frost, you can always bring the container back inside. In a hot spell, cover up with an old bed sheet or towel.
If there’s any question about what chemicals are lurking in the soil in your garden soil (for example, from run-off from an asphalt roof, or chemicals used in lawn treatments), container gardening lets you control the soil and location.
Five tips to get you started.
1. Move toward the light.
Most vegetables require sun. The beauty of container gardening is that you can rearrange crops as easily as rearranging patio furniture. Use taller plants, such as tomatoes or peppers, behind smaller ones. If you don’t have southern exposure, place containers where they aren’t obstructed.
2. Choose containers to match your crops.
Containers need to allow drainage while holding soil. Apart from that, they shouldn’t leak chemicals into the soil. Avoid creating containers using treated lumber products.
Choose shallow containers (six inches) for crops like herbs, lettuce, onions, and greens, and choose deeper ones for corn and root vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes.
One home owner in my neighbourhood uses “feed troughs” for livestock farmers. Traditionally used to hold water or seed, they support the roots of any veggie and are fairly light in weight.
You can recycle a wide range of household items bathtubs, coffee tins, wine barrels.
3. Don’t skimp on soil.
You can buy ready-made potting soil from the local garden center. Look for the word “potting soil” as opposed to topsoil or garden soil. Avoid soil intended for flowers, and stick to organic mixes.
Or, you can create your own mix of peat moss and compost.
4. Line the bottom
To save potting soil and prevent water from draining out, add coffee filters or other fillers to the bottom of the pot.
5. Don’t let your container be a pee or dumping zone.
Four-legged creatures from pets to predators can treat your containers as the perfect toilette. Make sure that the container isn’t placed directly in the path of free-roaming dogs or your pooch. Or, cover up your pots with mesh or even an umbrella to hide the container from sight.