Container gardening is a great way to get fresh food in a small amount of space. You can grow an almost endless array of veggies from salad greens to tomatoes to—believe it or not—some varieties of corn. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your container garden.
Make sure your plants have enough space to grow
Although you can plant a bit closer than normal when you’re creating a container garden, you don’t want to crowd those plants together. Overcrowding will lead to weak and spindly plants. In the long run, one tomato plant in a big pot will give you more tomatoes than four plants in the same pot.
The bigger the plant, the bigger the pot
If you’re growing sunflowers or corn, for example, you’ll want a larger container. The same goes for any plant that will grow tall or bushy. If your veggies are going to bear heavy fruit, you’ll want your container to be heavy enough not to tip over under the weight.
Give your plants plenty to drink
Plants that grow in containers don’t get to benefit from the natural moisture to be found in soil, so they dry out quickly. They’ll need regular watering to ensure healthy growth, so don’t let the soil dry out completely between waterings. On the other hand, don’t overwater, as that can lead to rot or mold. Create a watering schedule and stick to it. Also, be sure your pots have plenty of good drainage so the roots don’t rot.
Let the sun shine on your plants
Container plants, especially varieties like tomatoes and sunflowers, need lots of sun. If your balcony only gets partial sunshine, stick to herbs and salad greens, which do well without lots of direct sunlight.
Give them a windbreaker
Rooftops can be windy, so if your container garden is on a roof, set up a windbreak to keep your more delicate plants from blowing away or your pots from tipping over. Make sure the windbreak doesn’t cast shade, though. Lattice is a good choice. Also, place your pots close together so they brace each other.
Good soil is key
All plants need good nutrition, but it’s even more important for container gardens. Use a light potting soil and mix in some nutrient-rich compost. Fruiting plants such as tomatoes need more soil and more nutrients in order to have optimal flavor and nutritional value, so be sure to factor that in when you’re putting your garden together. If you’re succession planting—in other words, you’re planting and harvesting things like salad greens all summer—make sure you add extra compost and nutrients between plantings.
Do you have any other container gardening tips? Please share them in the comments!