Most of us are well aware of the problems surrounding “food miles” these days. The fact that your green beans have been flown in from Africa may be enough to make us think twice about purchasing them. Add to this the fact that it can be difficult to know how our food has been grown in terms of pesticides and other chemicals and the obvious solution is to grow our own food.
Unfortunately very few of us have the amount of land – or the time such a project takes – to begin a small holding and actually produce everything we eat.
However every little helps and even growing a few food plants of your own can not only be incredibly satisfying but will also help to reduce the impact you have on the planet.
So today I’d like to take a look at container gardening for fruit and vegetables because whether they’re huge containers sited on a sunny patio or a couple of window boxes – most people can find the space for a container or two somewhere in their home.
Getting Your Compost Right
The first thing to appreciate when it comes to growing fruit and vegetables in containers is that you need to think of the container as a complete ecosystem.
This means that your plants will need to be provided with suitable nutrition as it is unlikely they will be able to gain suitable sustenance from the normal breakdown and decay of dead plant material. A liquid fertilizer should therefore be applied to your plants in line with the packet guidelines in the fruiting season.
Evaporation also tends to be high in containers due to the smaller compost volume and so it is important to water containers regularly and/or provide a compost that holds the water such as by adding vermiculite.
In terms of the compost itself, it goes without saying that we aim for peat-free, organic compost if this is available. Specialist compost for containers is available and will help with the two problems mentioned above.
Crops Suitable For Container Gardening
While some crops like pumpkins or cucumbers will generally get too large for container growing there are a huge range of other plants that *can* be grown in this way depending on the size of the container available to you.
Besides the obvious herbs, some options open to you may include:
– Salad crops such as radishes, lettuces and beetroot
…and a whole host more. Indeed in a reasonably-sized container some people have even succeeded in growing zucchini.
The important point is to carefully consider the actual varieties you grow. For example some tomatoes cultivars will simply get too big to realistically grow in a small window-box. Equally there are small, bush varieties that will do perfectly in these conditions. So do your research before investing in seeds.