No Space to Grow Fruits and Vegetables? Think Again!
Spring is the perfect time to plan a summer garden. Don’t let a lack of yard space squash your green thumb. If you get creative with container gardening, small outdoor areas can be lush with fruits and vegetables, ready to pick and eat.
Even if you have a large yard, you may find container gardening convenient and alluring, especially if your native soil isn’t suited to the type of plants you want to grow, or if you hate weeding, or you simply want to take a little pressure off your knees and back.
The fact that some containers can be easily moved means changes in the sun’s location during the day or throughout the seasons can be easily managed by relocating a pot to a new “best” spot.
Containers also allow you to raise exotic fruits not typically grown in your climate—just move them inside for the winter.
Terrace tomato garden
What Grows in Container Gardens?
Your options are nearly as unlimited as those for traditional gardens. You will, however, need to select a “bush” variety for plants that tend to sprawl, unless you are willing to add stakes or cages to your containers. Also, for more gratifying results, select high-yield varieties.
Container gardens are suitable for these and many other plants:
Squash – zucchini and yellow squash are good choices
Greens – including spinach, lettuce, bok choy, Swiss chard, etc.
Peas and snow peas
Fruit trees are another option. A 15-gallon pot will support a five-foot fruit tree. Consider apples, cherries, lemons, figs, tangerines, limes, pears, and peaches.
Containerized lemon tree
Bananas, passion fruit, and pineapples can be grown in non-tropical climates if you are willing to move them inside when the weather turns cold.
If your plants will share containers, be sure they also share similar soil, water, and light preferences. Remember that moisture evaporates more quickly from pots than from the ground, so plan to water your plants more frequently than a “traditional” garden.
A few more beneficial strategies:
Help Them Help Each Other
Some vegetables enjoy a symbiotic relationship when planted together. This planting guide can help you determine which vegetables will benefit most from shared space and which will clash if planted together.
If you are growing vegetables, consider including a few natural bug-repelling plants instead of relying on toxic chemicals. For instance, many people use marigolds to resist plant-harming insects. But did you know that petunias deter tomato worms and squash bugs?
Nasturtiums resist the bugs that love to munch on tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, collards, broccoli, and radishes.
Basil and bay leaves repel house flies and would be a good choice for container gardens near doorways.
Lemongrass contains citronella oil, making it an excellent addition to your outdoor entertainment areas. Rosemary, lemon thyme, and mint also deter mosquitoes.
An herb garden in terra cotta containers
Select containers that suit your taste, that are complementary to the style of your home, or make a visual statement!
Be sure to choose sizes based on the type of plants you want to grow, their root requirements, and how many plants you want to include in a single container.
Shallow pots are excellent for lettuce and cactus, but trees and potatoes need deeper soil environments.
Also be aware that the type of pot material will impact soil temperature, which affects watering requirements and how quickly soil nutrients will need to be replenished.
Finally, if you plan to relocate pots during or after the outdoor growing season, make sure you’ll be able to move them. You may prefer pots with wheels or want to add a rolling “plant caddy.”