Most people think that vegetables must be grown in a garden bed. But there is in fact another option – containers. Vegetables don’t care where they are grown, as long as they have enough room for their roots and they receive enough sunshine and water to allow them to grow strong and healthy. Therefore, containers are perfect, with the added advantage of being able to move the container if the need arises.
The most important thing to remember when growing vegetables in containers is to water them often. Containers tend to dry out quicker than garden beds, so they do need more water. If you are like me and you have a tendency to forget to water your plants that are in containers, there is a simple solution – self-watering containers! These containers have a reservoir system to hold extra water. The reservoir allows the water to seep up into the soil, keeping it moist but not waterlogged.
It is so easy to grow vegetables in self-watering containers. To get started, use 50% compost and 50% peat/perlite for the soil or a specially formulated soil mix that contains ingredients such as sphagnum peat, perlite, vermiculite and limestone. Simply place the soil mix in the container and add plants. You can start seeds in seedling trays, or buy young vegetable plants from your local garden center. Then just add water once a week to the reservoir and watch as the vegetables grow, grow, grow!
There are several advantages to growing vegetables in self-watering containers, such as:
- You don’t need to add fertilizers, because frequent watering does not wash away the nutrients in the soil,
- You don’t need a lot of space,
- You can have different types of plants in one container,
- Vegetables grow better in self-watering containers than regular containers, and
- You will have higher yields from vegetables grown in self-watering containers than traditional gardens planted in the ground.
So, why do self-watering containers have higher yields than traditional gardens? That’s due to the way plants grow – by bringing water up through the plant’s roots, up the stems and out through the leaves. This is called a “transpirational pull”. When a plant has constant access to a water supply that will never run out, the plant can grow continuously. It will never have to pause it’s growth stage while waiting for more water and nutrients. No pauses means more growth and more yields for you, the gardener. Plus, the plants are healthier because they do not become stressed or weakened from the lack of moisture.
As a final note, remember that certain vegetables will need extra support, such as a trellis or ladder. This support system can be easily added to the container. Vegetables that can grow upwards include cucumbers, tomatoes, beans and peas. If you do plan to grow these vegetables, it is a good idea to add the trellis support before adding the plants. Also, growing vegetables vertically rather than horizontally saves space and that’s a good thing no matter how much or how little space you have for your garden.