Container gardening is an excellent way to grow plants in limited spaces, whether you have a small balcony, backyard or even just a windowsill. It is an ideal activity for beginners who want to grow their own vegetables and fruits but lack ample space for traditional gardening.
However, starting a container garden can be challenging for beginners who are unfamiliar with the growing techniques. The key is to select the right containers, soil mixtures, fertilizers, and plants that are well-suited for your specific location and conditions.
In this article, I will provide some essential tips on how to start a successful container garden as a beginner.
1. Pick vegetables that are easy to grow in containers
For container gardening, selecting the right vegetables is crucial for success. Fortunately, there are many options that can thrive in containers with minimal effort.
One great option for beginners is tomatoes. They are easy to grow, compact, and produce abundant fruit. You can grow peppers in pots to provide a colorful and flavorful addition to any dish. You can also grow cucumbers and okra with no issues.
Lettuce, spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are also excellent choices for container gardening since they have shallow roots and require little space. Herbs, such as cilantro and mint, are also ideal for containers since they do not need deep soil to thrive.
When I started my container garden, I grew peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, spinach, and red amaranth. It was easy to grow the peppers and tomatoes, but took a while to grow cilantro and spinach because of the fickle weather I was having.
2. Select containers that are suitable for the vegetables
Having selected the vegetables that are easy to grow in containers, the next step is to choose the right containers for your plants. Different vegetables require different container sizes, and it’s essential to provide them with adequate growing space for healthy growth.
For instance, tomatoes and peppers need a minimum container size of 12 inches, while spinach and cilantro will do well in an 8-inch container.
Ensure that the container has enough drainage holes to prevent water-logging that can cause root rot. Also, choose a container with enough depth to accommodate the roots of your plants fully. Pick a material that can withstand temperature changes and won’t break easily.
You can place hanging baskets or window boxes indoors or on balconies if you live in an apartment or have limited outdoor space.
My container of choice for growing tomatoes and peppers was 12 inch grow bags. They are lightweight for keeping on my balcony and inexpensive. For the herbs and leafy vegetables, I use plastic pots either hanging or placed on the balcony.
3. Grow the right number of plants in each container
A crucial aspect of container gardening is to ensure that you grow the right number of plants in each container. The size of the container determines how many plants you can grow, and it’s essential to choose wisely.
Overcrowding your container can lead to an unhealthy environment for your plants. Certain plants may compete for resources and nutrients, leading to stunted growth and poor yields.
Before planting, consider the mature size of each plant and their growth habit. You should consider the mature size of each plant and their growth habit before planting, as some plants require more space than others, even if they are classified as small or medium-sized. For instance, herbs such as basil and mint have shallow roots but require ample spacing between them because of their bushy nature. Tomatoes may have deep roots, but they need plenty of room to spread out.
It’s also advisable to choose companion plants that complement each other. Companion planting involves growing two or more plants together for mutual benefits, such as repelling pests or enhancing nutrient uptake. For example, pairing basil with tomatoes can help deter pests while improving tomato flavor. Similarly, marigolds planted with jalapenos can protect against nematodes while adding color to your garden.
I grew two pepper plants in a 12-inch container, though one of them died after it matured. I’m thinking of growing spinach along with the pepper plant that has matured and growing well.
4. Choose the right potting soil for the vegetable plants
Selecting the appropriate potting soil is a crucial step in container gardening. The right soil texture will ensure that your vegetable plants thrive, while an unsuitable one may lead to stunted growth or even plant death.
A good potting soil should have a balance of moisture retention and drainage capabilities, as well as sufficient aeration for root health. When selecting potting soil for your vegetable plants, it is best to choose a lightweight option specifically formulated for container gardening.
Avoid using garden soil as it can become compacted and restrict root growth. Garden soil may contain weed seeds, insects, or diseases that could harm your plants. An ideal potting mix for vegetable plants is neutral in pH and does not contain any added nutrients.
This allows you to control the amount and type of fertilizers you add to the soil. Consider adding compost or organic fertilizer to provide essential nutrients that will feed your plants throughout the growing season.
5. Use good nutrients for the vegetable plants
One of the most important factors in container gardening is ensuring that your vegetable plants have access to the right nutrients. Without proper nutrition, they will struggle to grow and mature. It’s essential to use good quality fertilizers and compost when setting up your container garden.
When choosing a fertilizer for your vegetable plants, it’s important to consider their specific needs. Different vegetables require different nutrient balances at different stages of growth. For example, leafy greens like spinach and lettuce require nitrogen-rich fertilizers during their vegetative stage, while fruiting vegetables like tomatoes and peppers need higher levels of potassium and phosphorus as they produce flowers and fruits.
To ensure that your container garden continues to thrive throughout the growing season, it’s important to have regular additions of nutrients to the potting soil. You should use a liquid or granular fertilizer every 15-20 days during the growing period. Be sure to follow package instructions carefully and avoid over-fertilizing, which can lead to root burn and other issues.
I like to add a variety of organic fertilizers every 15 days to my vegetable plants. I use neem cake powder, cow manure, vermicompost, and wood ash.
6. Use a liner at the bottom of the container
A liner can prevent soil from falling out of drainage holes while also reducing the amount of potting soil required. We can use many materials as a liner, including landscape fabric, newspaper, milk jugs, soda cans, terracotta pot pieces, or packing peanuts.
Landscape fabric is an ideal choice for larger containers because it is durable and permeable enough to allow for proper drainage. We can use newspaper or cardboard in smaller pots, as they are affordable and decompose over time.
We can also use milk jugs or soda cans as liners as they provide additional height to containers while also taking up space that would otherwise require more soil.
When using terracotta pot pieces or packing peanuts as liners, it’s essential not to use too many layers as this could impede water flow and cause root rot. One layer of either material should suffice for most containers.
I got some dried leaves to use as a liner because there’s a wax apple plant near my apartment. Sometimes I use pieces of newspaper or coco coir if leaves are not available.
7. Arrange containers in the right location
Placing your plants in an area that receives adequate sunlight is essential for their growth and development. Most vegetable plants require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, so try to place them in a south-facing direction that gets optimal sunlight.
When arranging your container plants, it’s important to consider their size and height at maturity. We should place tall plants at the back of the container, while we should place shorter ones in front. This arrangement ensures that all plants receive the required amount of sunlight without being blocked by taller ones.
Another factor to consider when arranging your container garden is watering needs. It’s best to group together plants with similar watering requirements, such as those that need frequent or infrequent watering. This way, you can easily monitor and regulate water usage for each plant without worrying about overwatering or underwatering.
This is where sometimes I struggle because of the limited space in my apartment balcony. I need to be careful to place the plants in the right location so they can get the required sunlight.
8. Water the vegetable plants only when needed
Watering is a crucial aspect of container gardening, especially for vegetable plants. Providing the right amount of water is necessary for their growth and health. Overwatering or underwatering can cause serious damage to the plants. Therefore, it is important to water them only when needed.
Before watering your vegetable plants, check the potting soil moisture level. Stick your finger a few inches into the potting soil and check if it comes out dry or moist. If it’s dry, that’s the time you need to water your plants. However, if it’s still moist, avoid watering them as excess water can lead to root rot and other fungal issues.
It’s also important to note that different vegetables require different amounts of water. For instance, leafy greens like lettuce and spinach need more frequent watering than root vegetables like carrots and beets. Fruit-bearing vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers also require more water than others.
When watering your vegetable plants, do it slowly and evenly so that the soil can absorb the moisture gradually. Avoid splashing water on leaves as this can cause disease to spread among the plants. Use a watering can with small holes or a drip irrigation system for even distribution of water.
I’ve made myself a home-made watering can using a soda bottle with holes in the cap. Works well to get it close to the base of the plant for watering.
9. Avoid splashing water on the foliage
One common mistake is splashing water on the foliage, which can create a humid environment that attracts pests and fungal diseases.
To avoid this problem, it’s essential to water at the base of the vegetable plant with a watering can having a long spout.
When watering your container garden, always aim for the soil rather than spraying water all over the plant. Positioning the spout close to the soil will enable you to deliver water directly to the roots without drenching the foliage.
If you have many plants in your container garden, consider using drip irrigation or a soaker hose. These methods are incredibly efficient and help conserve water by delivering only what your plants need. Drip irrigation systems use tubes or pipes with tiny holes that drip water slowly onto the potting soil, while soaker hoses seep water out through tiny pores along their length.
10. Use organic mulch in the containers
One of the best ways to ensure healthy container plants is by using organic mulch in the potting soil. It helps to regulate the temperature of the soil, which prevents it from drying out too quickly.
If you miss a few checks on watering your plants, organic mulch will keep your plants hydrated and avoid the risk of underwatering.
Another advantage of using organic mulch is that it helps to improve the texture of your potting soil. As the organic material breaks down, it adds nutrients to the soil and boosts plant growth.
Organic mulch prevents weeds from germinating in your containers, so you won’t have to worry about unwanted growth or removing them from your pots.
When choosing an organic mulch for your container garden, look for materials such as dried leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, straw or hay. These materials are readily available and easy to come by throughout most seasons.
You can also make use of kitchen scraps like eggshells or coffee grounds in combination with other natural materials for added benefits.
11. Recycle containers at the end of the growing season
Reusing containers is a sustainable way to continue your container gardening endeavors. However, it is important to note that certain factors affect the viability of reused containers.
For instance, if you had plants infected with soil-borne diseases, reusing the same container or even the same soil can lead to the spread of these diseases. Therefore, it is essential to take precautions when reusing containers.
One way to ensure that your reused containers are safe for use is by sterilizing them before planting new crops. Sterilization helps kill off pests and diseases that may have contaminated the container during the previous growing season. A solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water is an effective sterilizing agent. Rinse the container thoroughly after sterilizing it.
If you notice any cracks or damages on your used containers, it may be best not to reuse them. Cracks provide ideal conditions for pests and diseases to thrive in your container garden. They can cause water leakage leading to root rot and other issues for your plants.
12. Recycle potting soil at the end of the growing season
Besides recycling containers, you can also recycle potting soil at the end of the growing season. We can reuse potting soil for another growing season, reducing waste and saving money. However, before reusing potting soil, it is important to take some precautions.
The first step is to remove the potting soil from the container and store it in plastic bags. Keep the bags in a cool, dry place such as your garage or basement. This will help prevent moisture buildup and mold growth.
Before reusing the soil, add 1/3rd compost to give it a boost of nutrients and improve its texture. To further reduce the risk of pests and diseases remaining in reused potting soil, you can sterilize it in an oven before adding compost. Place the soil in a shallow baking dish and heat it at 180°F for 60 minutes. Let it cool before adding compost.
13. Prune unwanted parts of the plants
Pruning unwanted parts of a plant is an essential aspect of container gardening. It helps to maintain the health and vigor of the plant, which ultimately promotes higher yields.
When pruning, it’s important to identify the dead or diseased branches, yellowing leaves, or any other unwanted parts of the plant that are draining its nutrients. These parts can be a breeding ground for pests and diseases, which may spread to other healthy plants in your container garden.
While pruning may seem daunting at first, with some practice, it becomes easier. The best time to prune is when your plants have reached maturity or just before they flower. Use clean and sharp tools such as scissors or pruners to make precise cuts without damaging the plant’s healthy parts. Be sure to sterilize your tools before every use to prevent the spread of diseases.
Pruning also has aesthetic benefits; it promotes bushier growth and maintains the shape and size of your plants. Removing dead or yellowing leaves can help improve air circulation around your plants, reducing the risk of fungal infections.
When pruning plants, be sure not to remove more than one-third of their foliage at once, as this could shock the plant and reduce future yields.
14. Ensure vegetable plants get the required sunlight
Vegetables require 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. However, it’s crucial to research the specific vegetables you’re growing and their unique sunlight needs.
When selecting a location for your containers, consider where they’ll receive the most sunlight. Look for areas that are unobstructed by tall trees, branches, walls, or fences that could block the sun’s rays. If possible, place your containers in an area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade to prevent overheating.
Besides selecting the right location, you can also make adjustments throughout the day to ensure your plants receive adequate sunlight. For example, if you notice your containers aren’t receiving enough light during certain parts of the day, you could move them to a different spot.
15. Ensure the vegetables get the right temperature to grow
Gardeners must provide each type of plant with the temperatures it needs for optimal growth. For example, warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers require temperatures between 60-90°F during their growing period. Cool-season vegetables like lettuce and spinach grow best at temperatures between 45-65°F.
When planning your container garden, consider the microclimate of your location. Factors such as sunlight exposure, wind patterns, and ambient temperature can all affect the temperature in which your plants will grow.
For instance, if you live in a region with hot summers, you may need to provide shade for your warm-season plants to prevent them from overheating. Watering your plants correctly can also help regulate temperature.
Besides providing appropriate temperatures through proper planning and watering techniques, consider using various tools to help regulate temperature in extreme conditions. Shade cloths or covers can protect against direct sunlight during scorching days while mini-greenhouses or cloches can provide warmth during cold snaps.
16. Check for good drainage in the containers
Without proper drainage, your plants can get waterlogged and suffer from root rot. This is especially true if you live in an area with heavy rainfall or if you tend to overwater your plants.
To ensure that your containers have sufficient drainage, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First, always choose containers that have drainage holes at the bottom. If the container you want to use doesn’t have any holes, drill some yourself using a drill bit of appropriate size.
Second, make sure that soil or debris does not block the holes. You can prevent this by placing a liner at the bottom such as newspapers, packing peanuts, or terracotta pieces. Another thing to consider is the type of soil you use. A well-draining soil mix will help excess water flow out of the container easily and prevent water-logging.
You can create your own mix by combining potting soil with perlite or vermiculite. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-mixed soils designed specifically for container gardening. Last, it’s important to monitor your plants regularly to ensure they’re not getting too much water.
Check the soil moisture level by sticking your finger about an inch deep into the soil; if it feels dry, then it’s time to water your plant again. Remember that different plants have different watering requirements, so be sure to research how much water your specific plant needs.
17. Pick healthy seeds or seedlings for the container garden
When planning to start container gardening, one of the fundamental things you need to consider is choosing healthy seeds or seedlings. This is because starting with a strong and healthy plant will increase your chances of success in growing vegetables.
When picking seeds, it’s essential to select those that have protection or resistance to pests and diseases. This will ensure that your plants are less susceptible to infestation, and you won’t have to use harmful chemicals to protect them.
When purchasing seedlings from nurseries or garden centers, take time to examine the plant carefully before buying. Check for any signs of pest infestation, yellowing leaves, or spots on the foliage. These signs could show a diseased plant, which may not thrive in your container garden.
Always choose healthy-looking plants with vibrant green leaves and no visible signs of disease. It’s also important to inspect the roots of the seedling before purchasing it. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and examine its root system.
If the roots look brownish or blackened, this could show rotting caused by overwatering or poor drainage. A root-bound plant is also a sign that we have kept it in a small pot for too long without being transplanted.
I buy my seeds from reputed seed companies that ensure they are non-GMO organic seeds and have a good germination rate.
18. Monitor the container plants every day
Checking on your plants daily allows you to stay on top of their growth and development, making it easier for you to address any concerns before they become more severe.
One crucial thing to look out for when monitoring your container plants is pests. Pests such as aphids, spider mites, and thrips can quickly invade your plants if left unchecked. These pests can cause significant damage to your plants, leading to stunted growth or even death.
By monitoring your plants every day, you can easily spot any signs of pest infestation and take measures such as using organic pest control methods or removing the affected parts of the plant.
Another critical aspect of monitoring your container plants every day is checking for signs of disease. Diseases such as root rot, powdery mildew, and bacterial wilt are common problems that affect container-grown plants. These diseases can spread quickly from one plant to another if left unaddressed, leading to a significant loss in yield.
Regularly inspecting your plants can help you identify any signs of disease early on and take preventive measures like using fungicides or improving air circulation around the plant.
Monitoring your container plants every day allows you to keep track of their watering needs. Depending on various factors, such as temperature, humidity levels, and soil type, some plants may require more frequent watering than others. By checking the potting soil each day, you can determine when it’s time to water your plant and avoid overwatering or underwatering them.
This is an activity that I don’t skip and check on my plants every day. I’ve found aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs attacking my pepper plants often. Monitoring them has helped me take care of the problems as soon as they occur and help my plants grow healthy and develop peppers.
19. Harvest the vegetables when they are ready
You want to harvest vegetables as soon as they are ripe, so they don’t over-ripen or rot on the plant. One way to tell if vegetables are ready for harvest is by their appearance. For instance, tomatoes should be firm and fully colored while still on the vine.
Peppers should have a glossy sheen and be slightly soft. Cucumbers should be dark green and firm, with no yellowing or soft spots. You can harvest leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and lettuce when the leaves are full-sized.
Another way to determine if vegetables are ready for harvest is by their taste. Once you’ve picked a few vegetables, try them raw or cooked to see if they’re sweet or bitter. If they taste good, then it’s time to pick more of them from your container garden.
Keep in mind that picking your vegetables regularly will encourage more growth throughout the growing season. The more you harvest, the more fruits and foliage your plants will produce until it’s time for them to stop growing altogether. So check your containers every day for any ripe vegetables that need picking.
20. Use a journal to note down gardening experiences
Keeping a gardening journal is an essential part of container gardening. It helps you keep track of your progress, learn from your mistakes, and plan for future seasons. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced gardener, maintaining a journal will provide you with valuable insights that will aid in your success.
When creating your journal, include the date, weather, and what actions we took on that day. This information is crucial because it allows you to identify patterns and trends in plant growth and development. You can also note any issues that arise during the growing season, such as pest infestations or disease outbreaks.
Use your journal to record what worked well and what didn’t in terms of plant selection, soil types, watering techniques, and fertilization methods. This information will help you make informed decisions in the future when selecting plants and adjusting growing conditions.
By reviewing your notes at the end of each season, you’ll be able to plan for the next growing season more effectively. You’ll be aware of which plants performed best in specific containers and locations within your garden space.
You’ll have a better understanding of how to address problems that may have arisen during the previous season.
I need to improve on this one myself, but I use an Android app called Gardroid to log my gardening activities. I can log the start dates, harvest dates. I can set up a watering schedule so it shows when I need to water. I can log photos that help me check how the plants grow and mature over a period.
21. Keep the container garden close to a water source
One challenge that container gardeners often face is the need for frequent watering. To solve this issue, I recommend keeping your containers in a location close to a water source. This makes it easier for you to provide the required amount of water that your plants need without having to carry heavy buckets around or use a long hose.
Ideally, your container garden should be near a tap or hose so that you can conveniently access water whenever needed. Another option would be to set up an automated drip irrigation system connected to the tap. This way, you won’t have to spend much time watering your plants manually, as the system will do it for you at regular intervals.
Automated systems are useful if you live in an area where there are water restrictions or if you are going on vacation and won’t be able to tend your garden regularly.
22. Protect the container plants from strong wind
Strong winds can be detrimental to the growth of vegetable plants, particularly seedlings with weak stems. Therefore, it’s essential to protect your container plants from direct wind exposure.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by growing your plants close to a fence or tree that can offer natural protection against strong winds. You must ensure that they are not too close to either structure, as they may not receive adequate sunlight. In addition, make sure that the fence or tree is sturdy enough to withstand powerful gusts of wind.
You can use wind covers such as plastic sheets or lightweight fabric row covers. These materials are easy to install and remove when necessary, allowing your plants to receive ample sunlight while still providing protection from the wind. You could use stakes or plant supports like trellises or cages to support your plants and prevent them from being uprooted by strong winds.
It’s important to monitor weather and bring your container plants indoors during severe storms if necessary.
Once there was a storm at my location and I placed buckets on my plants to protect them from the strong winds.
23. Protect the vegetable plants from pests and disease
One of the best ways to prevent problems is to choose plants that are naturally resistant to common pests and diseases. For example, marigolds can repel nematodes, while basil can deter flies and mosquitoes. By selecting the right plants, you can reduce the likelihood of infestations.
Another way to protect your container plants is by providing them with proper care. This includes watering only at the base of the plant, as opposed to spraying water on the foliage. Moisture on leaves and stems can attract pests and fungi, which can cause damage or disease. It’s important to keep your containers clean and free of debris, as these can harbor insects and bacteria.
If you encounter pest or disease issues with your container plants, early detection is critical. Be vigilant in checking for signs of infestation or illness such as discoloration, wilting, or holes in leaves. Once identified, take swift action by removing affected leaves or entire plants if necessary. There are also a variety of natural remedies like neem oil or insecticidal soap that you could use.
If I find pests are attacking my plants often during the growing season, I spray diluted neem oil every week. It seems to help keep the pests away from the plants.
24. Clean up the container garden at the end of the growing season
At the end of each growing season, it’s crucial to clean up your containers to prepare for the next season. Doing so will ensure that your plants have a healthy environment to grow in and reduce the risk of pests and diseases.
To clean up, remove all plant debris such as dried leaves, stems, and roots. You can either compost them or dispose of them if they’re diseased. If there are weeds present, pull them out by hand or use a weeding tool. Make sure you get rid of any weeds with deep taproots that can regrow from small pieces.
Next, empty all the potting soil from your containers and inspect it for any signs of disease or pests. Dispose of any soil that shows signs of infestation or disease.
Once you’ve emptied all the soil, scrub your containers with warm water and soap to remove any remaining debris or pathogens.
Before you plant for the next season, add fresh potting soil to your containers. You can reuse some of the old soil by sterilizing it and adding fertilizer to it to replenish nutrients lost during the previous season.
25. Provide support for containers plants that need it
As a beginner container gardener, you might be inclined to grow vining vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers. However, these plants need support to grow vertically, since they sprawl outwards. Using support will help keep the foliage above ground level where they are less susceptible to pests and diseases.
Growing these plants vertically will encourage more foliage and fruit growth while making it easier for you to harvest them. There are various types of support structures you can use, depending on the type of vegetable plants you are growing.
For instance, a trellis works well for cucumber plants, while tomato cages are ideal for supporting tomato plants’ weighty vines. Stakes are also useful when supporting smaller vining plants such as peas or beans.
Using support structures benefits not only the health and growth of your container vegetable garden; it also makes it easy for you to maintain and prune your plants throughout their growth cycle. Provide adequate support early enough in the growing season before your vegetable plants start sprawling uncontrollably horizontally.
26. Use some gardening tools in the container garden
Using the right tools can make the process more efficient and effective. There are several useful tools for container gardening, including a trowel or hand fork, gloves, and a watering can with a long spout.
A trowel or hand fork is an essential tool for container gardening. We can use it for digging holes, aerating the soil, and planting seeds. These tools come in different sizes and shapes, depending on your needs. A hand fork is useful for removing weeds and breaking up clumps of soil.
Gloves are another essential tool for container gardening. They protect your hands from getting dirty and help prevent blisters when working with the soil. Gloves also provide some protection against pests like slugs and snails that may hide in the soil or on plants.
A watering can with a long spout allows you to water the plants directly at their base without getting water all over the leaves and stems. This helps prevent disease caused by fungal growth from damp conditions. Watering cans with long spouts allow you to water hard-to-reach containers that may be difficult to access with a hose or large watering can.
27. Save vegetable seeds for the next growing season
Once you’ve harvested your vegetables, it’s time to think about saving seeds for next season. Seed saving is an economical and sustainable way to keep your garden growing year after year.
To save seeds effectively, it’s important to select the healthiest plants with desirable traits. This ensures that the next generation of plants will be just as successful as the first. Choose plants that are disease-resistant, high-yielding, and have good flavor or texture.
Once you’ve selected your best plants, allow them to fully mature before harvesting their seeds. This means letting the vegetables stay on the plant until they’re past their edible stage and have dried out. Then carefully remove the seeds from the plant and store them in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to use them.
Some vegetables are easier to save than others. For example, beans and peas are relatively simple because they self-pollinate, while tomatoes require more effort because they cross-pollinate easily. Do some research on each vegetable type before attempting seed saving so that you can do it properly and ensure success.
28. Place containers at a height for better drainage
When you place containers on the ground, you risk blocking the drainage holes or having water pooling at the bottom. This can lead to root rot and other plant diseases that could harm your plants.
To avoid this problem, I recommend placing containers at a height where they can drain freely. Elevating your container garden with pot raisers, terracotta pieces, concrete blocks, tables or any other sturdy object will help clear the drainage holes.
Placing containers at a height can also make it easier for you to tend to your plants without straining your back. When choosing an elevation method for your container garden, be sure to consider stability and weight distribution.
It is important to choose a stable surface that can support the weight of your container garden without wobbling or tipping over. Ensuring proper weight distribution will also prevent damage to your plants or pots when moving them around.
29. Add pollinator-friendly native plants to the garden
These plants help attract beneficial insects and pollinators, which are crucial for the successful growth and development of many vegetables. Native plants are the best choice because they have adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, making them hardy and easy to care for.
When selecting native plants for your garden, it’s important to consider what types of pollinators you want to attract. For example, if you want to attract butterflies, consider planting milkweed or butterfly weed. If you want to attract bees, plant flowers such as coneflower or black-eyed Susan. Other pollinator-friendly plants include goldenrod, aster, and bee balm.
It’s also important to provide a variety of flowering plants that bloom at different times throughout the growing season. This will ensure that there is always a source of food available for pollinators. Consider planting early blooming flowers such as crocus or snowdrops in the spring, followed by mid-season bloomers like phlox or bee balm, and then late-season bloomers such as asters or goldenrod.
FIt’s important to create a welcoming environment for pollinators by providing shelter and nesting sites. We can achieve this by adding birdhouses or bee hotels to your garden. You can also leave some areas of bare ground for ground-nesting bees or build a small brush pile for larger insects.
30. Make your own potting soil for vegetables
While store-bought potting soil can be expensive, making your own is a simple and cost-effective option.
To make your own potting soil, start with a mixture of compost and coco peat. Compost adds nutrients to the soil while coco peat helps with water retention. Next, add perlite to improve drainage and prevent soil compaction. Finally, add a small amount of soil to provide some structure for the plants.
It’s important to note that the proportions of each ingredient may vary depending on the specific needs of your plants. For example, if you’re growing succulents or cacti, use more perlite and less compost. Experiment with different ratios until you find what works best for your particular garden.
31. Make your own compost for the container plants
Compost can be expensive, but making your own compost is an easy and affordable option. Collect green and brown material such as kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, and small twigs in a compost bin or pile.
The green materials provide nitrogen while the brown ones provide carbon. Mix them in a 3:1 browns to greens ratio. Turn the mixture periodically for aeration, which helps break down the materials faster.
Maintaining moisture levels in your compost pile is crucial for decomposition. You don’t want it too dry or too wet; it should be moist enough to feel like a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, add water with a spray bottle or hose; if it’s too wet, add more brown material to absorb excess moisture.
In about 2-6 months, depending on various factors such as temperature and humidity levels, your compost will transform into dark brown crumbly matter that smells earthy and sweet. You can now add this rich humus-like substance to your potting soil or use it as a top dressing around your plants.
I hope you found these beginner container gardening tips useful to start growing your own vegetables. There’s a lot more you can learn when it comes to the basics of container vegetable gardening that you’ll find below.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.