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 …

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 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.


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 container gardens.


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 potting mix 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.


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

Your potting mix or growing media should retain moisture for healthy plants, especially in container gardens.


  • 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! Container gardens are totally dependent on you ‘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. 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.


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. Perfect for garden beds, but not 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.


Salad Bowl Garden | The Micro Gardener

No space wasted in my salad bowl gardens!


  • 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.


Rotate pots regularly so plants can photosynthesize and grow well.

Rotate container gardens regularly so plants can photosynthesize and grow well.


  • 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.


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 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.


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 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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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2011-2013 – All rights reserved.