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Vegetable Crops for the Garden | Planning your Container Crops | General Gardening at The GardenZone

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Planning your Container Crops


All gardeners who grow vegetables need to plan out what they're going to grow each season, and where they're going to grow it. To some extent, this is easier for container growers (at least until you've filled up all the available floor space), because you can always add another container or two.

If you haven't grown vegetables and fruit in containers before, your plan needs to be a bit more comprehensive, because you have to decide not just what you're going to grow, but which containers to use. In most cases, this will involve scouring through catalogs online to find suitable ones - ornamental containers are all very well for decorative plants, but you need a good depth of soil to get a decent crop.

Some vegetable crops really won't like being grown in a pot or whatever you've chosen to grow them, for example Brussels sprouts and other cabbage relatives with a long growing season. Others such as corn have water requirements which are difficult to keep up with unless you invest in an automatic watering system (corn is also wind pollinated, which might be another problem). Still others are so hungry that even in the open ground they are voracious feeders - think of the standard preparation for runner beans, which involves digging a trench in the fall and filling it with all the old shredded newspapers, vegetative kitchen and garden waste from then until the beans are planted out in late spring.

Automatic watering is a great idea anyway, as containers do dry out quite a bit more quickly, but if you want to grow really hungry crops in a pot, especially those with a long season, you will probably need to use chemical fertilizers, and I for one would prefer not to eat chemicals with my dinner. For me, the whole point of growing my own veg is to avoid toxins.

Greenland Gardener Raised Bed Garden Kit Another solution for hungry crops is to use the really large containers sold as instant raised beds. These are big enough so that you can put lots of compost in for the hungriest plants and expect it to last sufficiently long to produce a decent crop.

Make a list of the crops you'd like to grow (see Best vegetable crops for containers for a few suggestions), then work out how much space you need for each. After that you can see if you have enough of the right kind of containers and buy a few more in if you need to at the same time as placing your seed order.

Now is a good time to place your order for seeds, as many seed suppliers have offers at this time of year. They should arrive in time for you to start some of them off under cover ready to plant them out as soon as the weather is good enough.

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Article ©2011 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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