We’ve always been keen on GYO, especially vegetables and salads. We’ve grown everything from kale to lettuce; peppers to cucumbers, spring onions to radishes, and we’ve always had mixed results.
When I say mixed results, I don’t mean that we just didn’t water them and they all died. I mean that (this year in particular) the garden has been plagued with a huge, slimy, slug and snail infestation. The war is on-going, and sometimes it feels like a losing battle.
So thanks to the slugs and snails, the plan for planting all the edibles has changed. This year, we’ve taken to growing our salad and some vegetables in containers.
The raised beds at the bottom of the garden are still there, but they’re for the excess crop (or the “Sacrificial Leaves” as I occasionally call it when I’m feeling angry at the carnage left behind by our slimy enemies).
Based on our experiences so far, I thought it would be good to create a blog post on how to grow container vegetables.
Select your container of choice
Dependent on what vegetable crop you’re growing, you may need a larger, deeper or wider pot. For root vegetables such as carrots or parsnips, have a deeper pot so that the root has room to grow below the surface of the soil.
For the general leafy salads, including Cos lettuce and rocket, we’ve always gone with a wider pot so they have more room to spread out once they start to grow.
Add your compost
Honestly, I’ve never had a problem with shop bought compost.
I do prefer peat-free for our vegetables, and I’ve used compost from the heap in the past as well. It’s personal preference, but make sure that it has enough nutrients so you get a good crop.
Plant your crop
If you’re growing from seed, make sure you water the pot well without drowning them whilst the seedlings are still young. They’re not at all as hardy as they will be when they grow, so you need to give them to the right amount of care attention they need.
If you’ve shop-bought some of your vegetables, then give them a good water before you add them to the container.
Think about the amount of spacing that you give each of the vegetables once they’re in their final position.
You don’t want to pack so many in that disease and mould can spread, but you don’t want to have too little in that if they get damaged in bad weather that you’re left with nothing.
Once the containers have been planted, make sure they’re in the best position for the vegetables to grow. For more tender plants, keep them out of the cold and damp, you don’t want them to drown in their pots, or freeze when the temperature drops.
Make sure that in the warmer months you water well. You should try to water either early in the morning, or later in the evening when the sun isn’t shining directly on the crop.
Some varieties of “cut and come again” salads need to be (funnily enough) cut and used, so they can grow again.
Even if you’re not eating all of the leaves you grow; the plant is putting more energy into new growth, giving you more produce over a longer period of time.
Vegetables to try in containers:
So there you have it, some tips on how to grow your own container vegetables. What do you think? How do you keep your crops in containers thriving?
Please do tell me about your own experiences in the comments below, and share on Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook so that everyone can see looking after container plants doesn’t have to be hard.