Love food? Want better results from your edible planters? Imagine … container gardens overflowing with delicious, vibrant, colourful, aromatic living food that nourishes your body and gives you pleasure to grow, cook and eat. If you think this is in the ‘too hard basket’ read on …
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 time and money and there were plenty of ‘dried arrangements’ as a result, with minimal harvests! Over the years I’ve realised container gardening requires a slightly different set of skills to growing directly in your garden.
So here are 6 of the techniques I use to maximise my crop yields for a continual abundance of delicious home grown organic food. Tuck in!
- 1. Watering – Adequate moisture is one of the key factors to bountiful container gardens. Not overwatering or underwatering – just enough. I pay attention to this more than anything else. I use a moisture meter or clay plant marker that absorbs moisture in the soil to get it right. I also make my own potting mix recipe with moisture-hugging ingredients like coir peat and no chemical nasties like water saving crystals. The soil mix then acts like a sponge holding moisture and minerals to sustain your edibles.
- 2. Plant Nutrition/Soil Food – Equally important is providing your food crops with the ‘love’ they need in the soil. It’s the minerals and trace elements that make your edible plants look vibrant, taste amazingly full of flavour, smell delectable and packed with nutrients that are healing and health-giving to 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! Container gardens are totally dependent on us ‘feeding’ the soil regularly to build humus.
- 3. Select Plants Carefully – Small is beautiful and there are many dwarf varieties of vegetables available now, so you can grow your favourite food without it being a space hog – even in containers. Teaming compact plants with vertical structures are one way you can grow more in less space. For example, there are many miniature lettuces and dwarf bean, pea, kale, cherry tomato, pumpkin and capsicum/pepper varieties that 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.
Click below for a selection of dwarf seed varieties
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- 4. Consider Spacing – I’ve found the spacing guidelines on some seed packets is too generous and wastes precious room in a container, so 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 that I am constantly picking and plucking. As they never grow to full size, they can be planted ‘up close and personal’. In a warm/hot climate with strong sun, the closer spacing is also a benefit to help shade adjoining plants and reduce moisture loss, protecting them from wilting.
- 5. Sufficient Sunlight – When sharing one pot with multiple plants, find a balance between maximising the space, without overcrowding. Otherwise, the plants won’t get adequate sunlight, moisture or nutrients and there’ll be too much competition! A bit of trial and error will help you learn how many plants to put in different sized containers.
- Options for growing in spaces with limited sunlight include moving your container garden on a portable trolley to where it gets more sun during the day, or using hanging baskets to take advantage of vertical space higher up.
- 6. Plant seasonal vegetables – Rotating crops in your containers helps reduce the chance of pests and diseases building up in the potting media. By swapping crops each season, you not only keep your soil healthy but growing your favourite edibles at the right time of the year 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, there are some helpful links and information in the post on What to Plant When and Benefits of Moon Gardening.
These are some of my favourite tips – I hope they help your container garden become more productive and 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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