Of all the gardeners I talk to, about half are first timers and the majority of them are starting with containers. Container gardens are perfect for folks in apartments, condos, zero lot line houses and don’t forget about some of the HOA restrictions. The most asked question is “what can I plant in containers?” The answer is almost anything if you have a big enough container and space for the plant. I try to talk folks out of watermelon and some of the big indeterminate tomato plants like Sweet 100 and Super Fantastic. As long as you have 50 – 60 gallon pots you can plant these large ones. But as general rule, the smaller garden crops have better success than the large ones. This is why they work very well with the fall and winter crops.
The size of the container will determine what you can grow successfully. Pick pots with hole in the bottom and preferably not in the center. When you can find them, whiskey barrels make great planters but they are designed to hold liquid so you need to install a hole or 2. Galvanized tubs give a rustic look to any garden but you can run into some issues. First is that they hold water so you need to drill some holes. That will break the zinc bond to the metal and they will start to rust. I have had galvanized planters last 15 years and others less than 2 years. The clay pots now get all my container garden business. Whichever container you choose add some coarse gravel or rock in the bottom before adding soil.
Fill the pot with dirt and you are good to go, right? In a word, no. I have used straight compost with marginal results except for some of the spring herbs. A better mix is our own Wells Brothers Custom Mix (compost, lava and green sand) and Living Earth top soil. I also add a little (maybe 25%) peat moss or vermiculite to the mix just for the bulk factor. I am not a big fan of sterile/potting soil or soil with an unknown fertilizer in them. I like knowing what’s in my mix that’s why I mix my own dirt and add a fertilizer that is appropriate for the crop. I encourage everyone to try what they like and learn from the experience. I am always surprised at the amount of veggies one can grow in small spaces. For more information on Container Gardens, click here.