5 Tips To Start A Container Garden

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Whether you live in the city or not, it’s often challenging to have access to enough yard space to grow your own garden.

And even if you have the yard space, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming to know where to start, when it comes to growing your own food.

Ready to dig in? Here’s some tips to get started –

1) Choose Veggies That Do Well In Pots. Certain vegetables grow better than others in an enclosed environment. Veggies like eggplants, tomatoes, small squash varieties, potatoes, peppers, peas, lettuce and cucumbers are good options to grow in enclosed containers. Not every plant will work, so allow yourself to think of it as a fun experiment.

2) Choose The Right Pot Size. The most important part of container gardening is finding the right container for each plant. The more space you can offer the plants’ roots, the better they will grow. Most veggies need at least 12 inches of soil, but others like potatoes, need deeper soil to develop well. You can repurpose plastic containers, use ceramic or fabric pots. Avoid darker pots, as they can become too hot in the full sun.

3) Ensure Your Pots Offer Good Drainage. Your pots need drainage holes to ensure that water can easily pass through them. When soil gets waterlogged, it promotes bacterial and fungal growth, which can slow their growth or kill them. Holes should be about ¼ inch in diameter, and you will need 4-8 drainage holes, depending on the pot size.

4) Invest In Organic Potting Soil. Don’t just dig up some soil from the backyard and toss it into your
containers. The right soil can make or break a container garden. Opt for a quality organic potting mix with good drainage. You can often find potting mixes that are specifically developed for veggie gardens.

5) Provide Enough Water & Light For Your Plants. Veggies need consistent water, but you don’t want to drown them. The key is to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soaking wet. To check your plants, stick your finger into the soil about an inch – if it feels dry, add water; if you’re not sure, wait and check again later in the day. This can shift during different seasons, so check them a couple times a day. Most fruiting veggies need full sun (about 6 hours of direct sunlight per day). Once you select the area to place your plants, check in on the light in that area every 30 minutes throughout the day. Also, remember that these are containers, so if certain areas aren’t working well for sunlight, you can easily move your plants and test another spot!

And to conclude, our bonus tip is to HAVE FUN WITH IT! When you’re learning how to grow food, there will always be *failures* along the way. Remember that it’s part of the learning process, and it’s totally ok. Enjoy the journey, and all the benefits that come from getting your hands in the dirt, and watching your own plants grow. It’s such a special experience to grow your own plants, and in turn, receive edible gifts.

Written by: Kestrel Jenkins, responsibility consultant & host of the Conscious Chatter podcast.