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Vegetable Container Gardening - The Basics

How to get started growing vegetables in containers

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Lettuce Container Garden in a Reusable Grocery Bag

Photo © Kerry Michaels

Getting started with vegetable container gardening can seem overwhelming but it doesn't need to be complicated. In a nutshell all you need for vegetable container gardening is plants or seeds, a container, some good potting soil, fertilizer, plenty of sun and water. Vegetable container gardening doesn't need to take a lot of time, but it does require that you pay a certain amount of attention to your plants, usually on a daily basis.

Advantages of Vegetable Container Gardening: There are lots of advantages to grow vegetables in pots. For people with limited outdoor space, growing vegetables in containers may be the only way to go. But even people with a backyard the size of a football field should consider vegetable container gardening. There’s no weeding, less chance of soil-borne plant diseases and critters are less likely to be able to eat your vegetables.

Vegetable container gardening can be hugely rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Knowing the basics before you start can give you the best chances for success.

Vegetable Container Gardening Basics

Deciding What to Grow: You can grow almost any vegetable in a container garden. That said, I don't think I would try corn or large watermelons due to size requirements and degree of difficulty. To decide what you are going to grow, think about what you like to eat. I love fancy mesclun salad greens, which can be expensive and hard to find, so I grow lots. My kids love peas and they are fun to eat right off the vine. I don't think there is anything better to eat in the world than fresh picked tomatoes and potatoes so I grow those as well.

Here are step-by-step instructions for:

Seeds or Seedlings: One of your first decisions will be whether to buy seedlings or start your vegetable plants from seed. There are two huge advantages to starting from seed. The first is price - most seeds are very inexpensive. The second advantage is that you can grow plants that are hard to find.

The one drawback to starting vegetable plants from seeds is that seedlings are delicate. Where a large seedling might survive if it gets a little dry, a newly sprouted seedling will surely die.

You can either directly sow seeds into your vegetable container gardens, or to get a jump on the gardening season, you can sow your seeds indoors, usually in late winter or early spring, depending on where you live and the kinds of seeds you are planting.

Growing Organic Vegetables: I grow all my vegetable container gardens organically. I think it is healthier for my family and the environment. It is a personal choice and certainly not the only one. Here are some links for information on growing organic vegetable container gardens:

Tools and Equipment: All you really need to grow vegetable container gardens is a container, soil, fertilizer, water, sun, and plants or seeds. That said, there are a lot of cool products that can be really helpful.

For me a garden hat is an essential piece of equipment, besides I love hats almost as much as I love shoes. Here are reviews of my three favorite garden hats.

I am a recent convert to gardening gloves. These are three of my favorites:

Good watering tools are also key to container gardening hapiness.

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