Garden Party

Garden Party

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at gardening but feel intimidated?  Growing your own vegetables and fruits sounds like such a great idea, but if you let your last houseplant die a slow death, it’s hard to know where to start!  I have the benefit of having grown up with a mother and grandmother who loved to garden so I learned a lot of tips and tricks from them.  But even still, with a busy life, I don’t have a lot of time to maintain a large vegetable garden.  Solution?  Container gardens!  These are a very easy way to grow simple vegetables, flowers, and other plants without a lot of muss or fuss.  It’s also a great way to get kids involved with learning about how their food grows.  I’ll preface this by saying that it’s unlikely that you will be able to grow all of your produce needs from containers, but it’s certainly a fun way to supplement what you can get at the store or farmer’s market.  My kids often walk out onto our deck and start picking and eating tomatoes, green beans, or whatever they can find, so what we grow doesn’t always make it back into the house!  That’s OK – sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination!

I’ll walk you through a few simple steps below, and in no time you will be on your way to yummy, organic, home grown veggies!

  1.  Vegetables and herbs require a lot of sun.  Pick a sunny spot in your yard, or on your deck or patio to place your containers.  In New England, it’s safe to plant veggies outdoors after mid-May.  It’s not too late to get started!
  2. You will want to get planters or containers that are on the larger side, as many of these plants will have a deep root system and need room to grow.  Make sure the planters have holes for water drainage!  Elevating the planters up off the ground with a plant stand can help facilitate drainage.containers empty
  3. Fill your containers with a good potting soil which you can purchase at any garden center.  Because vegetables deplete the soil of nutrients over time, it’s helpful to mix in a little organic fertilizer with the soil.  You can get tomato/vegetable fertilizers by the bag at garden centers; follow the instructions on the bag to see how much fertilizer to mix into the quantity of soil you are using.
  4. In my experience, there are a few types of vegetable and fruit plants that do very well in containers.  Good choices include:  tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, lettuce/kale, broccoli, green beans (bush bean variety), peas (need to have a trellis to grow on), herbs, radishes, and strawberries.  Plants that need to spread out to grow like cucumbers and squashes don’t tend to do as well.  You can purchase many of the plants above in seedling form at garden centers, but lettuce, peas, green beans, and radishes are easy to start from seed.
  5. Once your containers are prepped and ready to go, you can sow your seeds, or plant your seedlings!  With tomato and pepper seedlings, be sure you dig a deep hole and plant them deeper down into the soil.container seedlingscontainer seedlings 2
  6. Once everything is planted, you can sit back and enjoy!  You will need to be diligent about watering your plants daily as containers can dry out quickly.   You should also consider re-fertilizing the plants every 4-6 weeks for optimal growing.  Once your veggies start growing, harvest them as you go!  You want to pick green beans, peas, lettuce, and other veggies before they get too big.
  7. containerscontainer 3container 2container 1
  8. Planting marigolds with your tomatoes can help keep aphids away (a small insect that will eat the plants).  If you happen to see aphids or other insects on your plants, you can spray them with any number of insecticides found at your local garden center (ask for an organic one!)containers tomatoes

Do you have any great tips to share about container gardening?  Any pictures of your garden bounty?  We’d love to see them?  Please share in our comments!

–Cara

green beans

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