By -Georgia Lund-
Growing fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit is not something that only those with acreage can do; gardening can be done without a yard of any size. Container gardening is a way to have fresh food during the summer without using much outdoor space. The only things needed are containers, soil, the sun and a few seeds or plants.
Any container will work for growing plants if it’s deep enough, can hold soil and has bottom drainage holes. Select containers that are 10-12 inches deep and equally as wide for growing most plants. Containers will need 2-4 bottom drainage holes so excess water can drain away quickly.
Place a coffee filter over the drainage holes inside each container before adding growing medium. This will prevent the loss of soil during watering.
Fill containers with a high-quality planting mix to within 2 inches of the top rim.
You can start a container garden with seeds or plants. Seeds are less expensive, but plants give faster results.
Plant seeds, water thoroughly and place container in an outdoor location that will receive plenty of sunlight, yet be protected from the wind. An apartment patio, porch or rooftop is the perfect place for container placement.
Start with garden plants that are green and have healthy foliage. Plant and water young garden plants thoroughly and place them in a location that is sunny, yet will protect them from direct sunlight for the first few days. Young plants need sunlight, just not direct sunlight. The garden plants need few days to recover from transplant shock and adjust to their new soil home. After one week, move the container into direct sunlight.
Container gardening will require diligent watering since container soil will dry out faster the ground level soil. Check soil moisture daily. Add a two-inch layer of straw on top of the soil to help retain moisture.
Feed plants after the first week, using a water-soluble plant food. Continue to feed every other week throughout the growing season. Place crushed egg shells and used coffee grounds on top of the soil once a month to help keep plants well fed.
Most garden vegetables are suitable for container gardening. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, eggplant, herbs, radishes, onions, and lettuce are some of the popular, easy to grow vegetables for container gardening. Hybrid bush varieties of vegetables are more compact and better suited for container gardening than traditional varieties.