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6 Tips for Abundant Edible Container Gardens

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 …

 

An abundant harvest of home grown food | The Micro Gardener

This is the kind of food I love helping people learn how to grow.

 

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.

 

Delicious nutritious vegies are easy to grow at home in containers

With some basic knowledge, delicious nutritious vegies are easy to grow at home in containers

 

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.

 

Add coir peat to potting mix or growing media to retain moisture

Your potting mix or growing media should retain moisture for healthy plants

 

  • 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.

 

Compost is a vital ingredient for feeding the soil and plants.

Add compost, rock minerals, seaweed, worm castings (vermicast) and other organic inputs as part of your routine for an abundance of healthy food.

 

  • 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

Your support of this site is appreciated!

 

  • 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.

 

Salad Bowl Garden | The Micro Gardener

No space wasted in my salad bowl gardens!

 

  • 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.

 

Rotate pots regularly so plants can photosynthesize and grow well.

Rotate pots regularly so plants can photosynthesize and grow well.

 

  • 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.

 

Tiered hanging baskets are a practical solution to access sunlight & vertical growing space.

Tiered hanging baskets are a practical solution to access sunlight & vertical growing space.

 

  • 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.

 

Perpetual Moon Gardening Calendar | The Micro Gardener

Perpetual Moon Gardening Calendar – a tool you can use for a lifetime anywhere in the world to help increase yields & save you time & money.

 

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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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2011-2013 – http://www.themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “6 Tips for Abundant Edible Container Gardens”

  1. Francineon 15 Sep 2013 at 6:19 am

    I was subscribing again because I would like to see the free ebook “Sow Simple”, it looks interesting and I don’t have a copy

    Thank you

  2. The Micro Gardeneron 15 Sep 2013 at 7:46 am

    Hi Francine you should have automatically received the link to download it from your browser when you subscribed. Let me know if you missed it and I’ll forward by email. :)

  3. suzanneon 15 Sep 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Can you supply a printable copy of your tips like soil recipe, etc.?

  4. Michael Hallon 17 Sep 2013 at 5:24 am

    What do you think of coco coir? We are starting a new website Wednesday with several different products for home gardening, including the city garden and would like to see what you think of those products.

  5. The Micro Gardeneron 17 Sep 2013 at 9:07 am

    Hi Suzanne
    Thanks for your feedback and interest in my articles. I am currently writing, editing and packaging a number of eBooks and tools as my web content is only a fraction of what I teach face-to-face at workshops and have learned over the years with hands-on practice. These will soon be available and make it much easier for my subscribers and web visitors, including recipes and step-by-step guides you can use in the garden. I know it’s easier to absorb the information in bite size chunks! Is this what you are looking for? I am focusing on help for beginners first to get the basics right as a starting point. Please let me know your topics of interest and I’ll try to include.

    I’ll keep you posted when they are going to be available.
    Cheers Anne

  6. The Micro Gardeneron 17 Sep 2013 at 9:09 am

    Hi Michael
    I do use coir peat – see my post on making your own potting mix at http://themicrogardener.com/easy-diy-potting-mix-recipe/. Best to do your own due diligence on what you intend selling as I don’t recommend any brands with chemical additives and soil wetting agents.
    All the best with your new endeavour. :)

  7. donaon 07 Oct 2013 at 9:22 am

    i subscribed and didn’t receive the free ebook. What should i do?

  8. The Micro Gardeneron 07 Oct 2013 at 10:04 am

    Hi Dona you may have missed the link in your browser when you confirmed your opt-in. I have emailed you the link separately. Cheers Anne

  9. Krimhildaon 12 Oct 2013 at 8:21 am

    Hi Anne
    Is there a link where I can download the ebook? Didn´t receive it when I subscribed. By the way, congratulations for the incredible work and research you have done. I really enjoy your newsletters, they´re very informative.

  10. The Micro Gardeneron 12 Oct 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Krimhilda, thanks for your positive feedback – much appreciated! You may have missed the link in your browser to download the eBook when you confirmed your opt-in. I have emailed you the link separately. Cheers Anne

  11. Staci Alspaughon 28 Nov 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I was wanting to know about growing a grape vine indoors ? Can you ? How ?

  12. The Micro Gardeneron 28 Nov 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I personally haven’t grown grapes indoors but you can! Here are a couple of links to check out and get you started:
    http://homeguides.sfgate.com/grape-vines-can-grown-indoors-57494.html
    http://www.victoriananursery.co.uk/Grapes_For_Protected_Growing/
    http://www.readsnursery.co.uk/grapevine-care/
    Good luck and let me know how you go! :)

  13. […] Love to have an abundance of home grown food from small space container gardens? These 6 practical tips can help you grow healthy delicious produce year round.  […]

  14. Paul Stangon 25 Apr 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Hi, I found High Density Resin containers (24″ dia 15″ high). I called the manufacturer who said it was high density polypropylene resin. I want to use them for growing outdoor roof-top organic vegetables. Are these OK?

  15. Anne Gibsonon 28 Apr 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Paul, I agree you are best to check with the manufacturer as plastics vary so widely. Names of plastics can be confusing. HDPE (high density polyethylene) is usually stamped with a “#2″ and polypropylene PP is usually a #5 to help with identification. These are two of the (apparently) safer plastics to use for food gardens. However, recent research (such as http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222987/pdf/ehp.1003220.pdf) suggest that even safer plastics still leach some chemicals, particularly when under stress such as UV sunlight. This applies to PP. This article on Polypropylene has some references you may want to investigate further. At the end of the day, I guess we have to make our own decisions about what to use based on the current research, space and budget we have. There are pros and cons for all containers but if you have another alternative, perhaps you could consider this instead. All the best.

  16. […] When venturing into any gardening technique, a few tips from a seasoned professional is essential. Edible container gardens, when done right, can be a fun, convenient, and attractive way to grow vegetables, herbs, and even […]

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