In a world of city-dwelling, apartment living, and small yards, not everyone has acres of sprawling land to create an extensive garden plot. But that should not stop you from growing veggies to feed your family. All you need is a patch of sunlight and some determination, and you can have a wealth of fresh produce all season long. Check out our favorite vegetables that thrive in small spaces and tips on how to create a successful container garden.
Why Choose Container Gardening
Vegetable container gardening has risen in popularity in recent years. People are planting in everything from raised beds, to traditional pots, wheelbarrows, and old trunks. But what is so special about container gardening, and why should you try this garden method?
That empty corner on your patio or porch that you don’t know what to do with? Why not fill it with a few pots of tomatoes, peppers, or lettuce? Container gardening is a great way to get the most out of your space and bring a unique element of decor to your porch or patio as well. Plus, by utilizing the techniques of succession planting and vertical growing, you can get even more out of your small space.
When you plant in the ground, it is impossible to tell exactly what kind of soil you are planting in. And since soil is one of the critical factors of healthy plant growth, this lack of control can be incredibly detrimental to your gardening endeavors. Instead of spending hours of backbreaking work amending the soil with rich compost, simply create your perfect blend of soil and give your plants the best start possible.
Not only can you fill in wasted space, but you can also place pots or raised beds where the plants will flourish. You don’t have to worry about a particular area of soil getting too much sun or not enough protection from the wind. You can take the time to observe your yard or patio and place the container in the best location possible. Plus, if you notice your plant getting a little lanky or sunburned, simply move the container.
Other reasons to choose containers:
- Water drains quickly
- The soil warms faster to extend the growing season
- Fewer weeds
- Soil won’t get compacted
- Saves time
- Fewer pests and diseases
Best Vegetables For Raised Beds
Virtually any plant that can be grown in your climate in the ground can also be grown in a raised bed. However, these plants are great for small spaces since they mature quickly and don’t need a ton of space.
Tomatoes love pots and raised beds. Simply provide a stake, trellis, or other support and loosely tie the plant to it once it has started to mature. This will help support the heavy weight of the tomatoes and give it something to twine around. Choose tomatoes that ripen quickly and produce a high yield, and you may only need one plant to fill all of your summer tomato needs. Cherry tomatoes grow particularly well in small spaces since they remain relatively compact and produce pounds delicious snacking fruit in a single season.
Grow any pepper plant in a raised bed, and you are sure to succeed. Not only can you grow traditional sweet bell peppers, but you can branch off and try planting hot peppers such as cayenne, habanero, and jalapeno. Peppers of all different colors also look beautiful in your garden and are the perfect ornamental and edible vegetables.
Cool season leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, and spinach need to planted as soon as possible in the spring to keep them from getting too hot and going to seed early in the growing season. Planting in raised beds allows you to get the crop out earlier since you don’t have to wait as long for the soil to warm, which means that you get a longer harvest time and can enjoy more fresh greens in your salads and smoothies.
Other veggies that love raised beds:
Tips for success:
- Select the right container: Choose a raised bed or pot that is at least 10-12 inches deep. This will allow you to plant root vegetables such as carrots and onions that need more soil depth.
- Start small: If this is your first time gardening or planting a raised bed, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start with vegetables you know you’ll love and only have as many plants as you have time to care for.
- Sunlight is vital: Most vegetables need at least eight hours of full sun every day, so be sure to place your bed in a well-lit area. A shady spot or covered porch that doesn’t receive natural light is not ideal for vegetable gardening.
- Soil requirements: Raised beds have an advantage over traditional gardens since they allow you to have complete control over the soil. Don’t waste this opportunity by filling your bed with poor, nutrient deficient soil. Select soil that is loose and rich with organic material and nutrients. Also, be sure to mix in beneficial compost before planting.
- Go vertical: instead of letting trailing plants run wild and take over your small bed, provide a trellis or other support for them to climb on.
- Avoid overcrowding: Maximizing space in your small bed isn’t about shoving as many plants as possible in a tiny area. It is about utilizing the space you have and growing healthy plants that will give a hearty yield. Make sure to provide adequate airflow around your plants and thin as needed to prevent overcrowding.
Remember, the key to successful container gardening is taking the time to map out a plan that maximizes your small space and timing plants so that you always have a harvest. Starting seeds indoors and transplanting them into your bed is also a great way to increase yield and extend the growing season.
Most importantly, plant what you love to eat! That is the point of a vegetable garden, after all.