We lived in a house where the back garden consisted of concrete so growing vegetables didn’t seem like a possibility. My wife just started acquiring pots like they were going out of fashion and planting flowers.
Well what’s good enough for the flowers is good enough for the vegetables so even if you only have a concrete yard or a patio there is no reason why you can’t enjoy some just picked fresh produce of your own.
If you have room for a pot you can get a decent crop of wonderful tasty fresh vegetables.
Where to Start Container Growing Vegetables?
First of all pick your spot. The sunnier the better because most vegetables do not like being shaded. If you have an area in front of a south facing wall, that’s brilliant but just go for the best you can.
Next you’re going to want some pots to grow in. Plastic pots and troughs can be bought very cheaply and look attractive. Ceramic pots are going to cost more but they look better. If you want you can use nearly anything. Some supermarkets sell off the buckets cut flowers are delivered in very cheaply. Drill a few holes in the bottom and you have a large pot.
Purpose made containers will give you even better results for some crops. For example this potato barrel is just 17″ in diameter but has an 80 litre capacity, which is enough to provide a pretty fair crop. The heat retentive polypropylene construction keeps the compost warm encouraging healthy growth when the British summer lets us down.
Plenty of foliage, delicate flowers and an attractive tub means you can grace the finest patio and amaze your visitors when you tell them what’s growing.
Amaze them even more when they eat some fresh potatoes, picked ten minutes before.
As well as potato tubs, you can get masses of strawberries out of a strawberry barrel and even construct a temporary deep bed with a a product like link-a-bord which you can stack up, if you wish, to various heights.
Growbags can be used to good effect but I find them difficult to water and they never seem to hold enough compost. So into the growbag I sink 9″ bottomless pots (usually used for ring culture). By planting deep into these I encourage root development and provide more compost for the plants.
Compost, Fertiliser and Water
You’re going to be asking a lot from your pots so you really need to start with a decent compost. Don’t just go for the cheapest thing in the DIY store, you may save a few pennies but it’s a false economy when container gardening.
Go to your local garden centre or gardener’s supply store, find someone who knows what they are about and buy the best for the job.
Next you are going to need to feed the plants. You can feed with a liquid feed as you water or make life simple and use a slow release fertiliser such as Osmacote added to the compost before you plant up.
Your biggest problem is going to be watering. Adding some water-retaining crystals to the compost will help even things out. Our container garden, which was admittedly quite large, took up nearly two hours a day in a hot summer. We had to go right through the house carrying watering cans to the front. The rear wasn’t so bad as we had a hose pipe connected to an outside tap but it still took quite some time.
We still have a lot of pots on our patio even though we have a garden but the watering has been simplified with a drip watering system You can get really sophisticated systems – computer controlled watering system – or just a very simple system from stores like Wilkinsons for around a fiver.
Of course, you can get caught by a hosepipe ban but if you invest in a water butt you can get low pressure watering kits or pumps to provide mains-like pressure from your water butt. Using these, even when there is a hosepipe ban on, is perfectly legal. It’s your water!
Starting off with Container Gardening
One other thing that will be really useful although not required for container growing is a coldframe or use of a greenhouse. This enables you to get your plants started early in the season just like anyone growing on an allotment or plot.
As an alternative, buy in plants from the garden centre. Let them to the work of getting them going and you plant when the season is right.
Next you will need to look at what to grow and the techniques of growing in containers – see below:
Useful Links in the Allotment Shop:
Container Pot & Patio Growing, Flowers, Vegetables, Fruit & Herbs – Information & Advice
- Container Gardening – Container Vegetable Growing
- Container Gardening – General Advice Guide & Tips
- Container Gardening – Protecting Your Plants & Crops From Pests
- Growing Tables for Vegetables, Fruit & Herbs
- The Basics Of How to Plant Container Gardens
- What Vegetables Can You Grow in Containers?
- Winter Care of Container Fruit Trees