Struggling to grow food successfully in pots? Would you love to have abundant container gardens? Overflowing with delicious, healthy, colourful food? Fruit and vegetables that nourish your body? Give you joy to grow, cook and eat? If you think this is in the ‘too hard basket’ read on for my tips …
A continual abundance of organic vegetables, herbs and fruits that sustain you with good health can be yours to enjoy.
When I first started planting edibles in micro gardens, I made a LOT of mistakes. I wasted so much time and money. There were plenty of ‘dried arrangements’ (dead plants!) as a result. I struggled with poor harvests. Over the years I’ve realised container gardening requires a different set of skills to growing directly in your garden.
These are 6 key techniques you can use to maximise your harvests. Grow a continual abundance of delicious home grown organic food. Tuck in!
Six Tips for Abundant Edible Container Gardens
- 1. Watering – Adequate moisture is a key factor for bountiful container gardens. Not overwatering or underwatering. Just enough moisture. I recommend you really pay attention to this. Use a moisture meter to check soil moisture. Or stick your finger in the soil! You can also make your own moisture-holding potting mix using my recipe. It should have moisture-hugging ingredients like coir peat. But no chemical nasties like water-saving crystals. The soil mix acts like a sponge. It will hold moisture and minerals to sustain your edibles.
- 2. Plant Nutrition/Soil Food – Equally important is providing your food plants with the ‘love’ they need in the soil. Minerals and trace elements provide balanced nutrition. So your edible plants look vibrant. Your food will taste amazingly full of flavour and smell delicious! Plants packed with nutrients are healing and health-giving for your body. Just like we get sick and suffer from ailments if our diet is lacking vitamins and minerals, it’s the same with our plants! Edible container gardens are totally dependent on you ‘feeding’ the soil regularly to build humus.
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- 3. Select Plants Carefully – Small is beautiful. There are many dwarf varieties of vegetables available now. So you can grow your favourite food without it being a space hog. Even in container gardens. Team compact plants with vertical structures. That way you can grow more in less space. For example, there are many miniature varieties. e.g. lettuces, dwarf beans, peas, kale, cherry tomatoes, pumpkins and capsicum/peppers. They are small in size but generous in their yields. Take a look at my Seed List for suppliers around the world. Or shop online for varieties you can try like the organic ones below.
- 4. Consider Spacing – I’ve found the spacing guidelines on some seed packets is too generous. Perfect for garden beds, but not edible container gardens. I often plant my seeds and seedlings a bit closer than recommended. In my salad bowl gardens, I grow a variety of 8 or 9 different greens and herbs. I can do this because I am constantly picking and plucking. They never grow to full size. So they can be planted ‘up close and personal’. In a warm/hot climate with strong sun, the closer spacing is also a benefit. Why? To help shade adjoining plants and reduce moisture loss. This helps protect them from wilting.
- 5. Sufficient Sunlight – When sharing one pot with multiple plants, you need to find a balance. Between maximising the space without overcrowding. Otherwise, your plants won’t get adequate sunlight, moisture or nutrients. There will be too much competition! A bit of trial and error will help you learn how many plants to put in different sized containers.
- Growing in spaces with limited sunlight? Try moving your container gardens on portable trolleys. Position where your containers get more sun during the day. Or use hanging baskets to take advantage of vertical space higher up.
- 6. Plant seasonal vegetables – Rotating vegetables in your container gardens is important. This helps reduce the chance of pests and diseases building up in the potting media. By swapping plant families each season, you keep your soil healthy. Growing your favourite edibles at the right time of the year also gives you the best chance of success. Avoid wasting money on planting summer crops in winter. This is a recipe for disaster! If you’re not sure when the best time is to grow various vegetables, read What to Plant When and Benefits of Moon Gardening.
These are some of my favourite tips. I hope they help your container gardens become more productive. So you can enjoy an abundance of fresh home grown organic produce year round. I’d love to know – What do you need help with in your garden?
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