Container and Patio gardening
Feel contained with small scale gardening
in Pots, tubs, raised bed kits, bags, baskets, window boxes,growing bags, tires and lots more.
As you can see from the long list, there are numerous ways to grow vegetables, flowers, herbs and even trees in. You will be surprised, how much can be grown in a small area on Patios, roof gardens, front porches or in the garden.
And as usual, it doesn’t need to cost you a lot either, if you are inventive and creative , a vast selection of various containers, pots tubs baskets…. can become your new veg patch.
First the advantage of growing vegetables , herbs or other crops like that is that you can match the compost to the exact needs of your crop. For example Blueberrie bushes need acitic soil and can be grown right next to a sack of potatoes which require lots of potash and like sandy soil.
The same applies to the location. Some crops need a lot of sun and heat and can be grown next to a warm wall (tomatoes, cucumbers) other crops (like lettuce or beet root are quite happy to sit in the shade for a while . Choosing the right spot is sometimes easier if you grow in pots .
Weeding shouldn’t take up a lot of your time as there are no perennial weeds and if there are a few undesirable seeds germinating they are easily removed without bending down too much.
Protection from pests is also not too difficult as you can protect your plants grown in pots,tubs,… quite easily from slugs see tips later on|) or from birds with netting which is easy to erect around a small area. The same applies to protection from adverse weather (either frost or strong winds)
IF there were just advantages to growing crops in pots and containers, I guess, we all would do it and there wouldn’t be any waiting lists for allotments at all!
But being self sufficient from pot grown plants would be difficult and in general the scale of gardening is smaller then on allotments and vegetable gardens.
But you still can harvest some fresh fruit for your breakfast cereal, get some crunchy leaves for your sandwich and add flavour to your main meal with home grown vegetables, fruit and salads.
As usual make a list what you would like to grow and have a look how much space you got available, and where that space is. In general, a sunny site would be preferable.
With space being limited you obviously need to prioritise what you want to grow. Also consider what is easily and cheaply available on the market and shops and what is more tricky or expensive to buy.
Easy to grow are straw berries , either in hanging baskets,window boxes or special towers, all easily available.
For fruit trees it is important you choose the right root stock. (all fruit trees bougth from a nursery are grafted on root stocks, which will determine the size of the tree) M9 and M27 are small sized trees (2 -2.5 meters high) For pot grown fruit trees choose a big container. (if you go for terracotta make sure they are frost proof) and consider casters for moving the pots easier. Apple trees, pear trees and cherry are easy to get hold of, also figs or apricot which prefer a warm sheltered spot.(along a south facing wall
Potatoes are very popular to grow in big bags and tubs. Use early varieties (shorter growing cycle) like “Swift”, “Anoe” or “Charlotte” 2nd early (I like to grow them in old tires, and instead of earthing them up, you just add another tire and more compost!) Look at the label and decide if you go for salad potatoes, floury for mash or all rounders.
Runner beans and climbing beans look good grown over a porch, trellies or wigwam and look good in any flower border. IF you grow them in a container, use another crop to grow between the canes or use a wall for vertical space to grow crops .
Courgette can also look quite ornamental in a flower bed or in a pot. Don’t use more than one plant per pot!
Tomatoes are another popular crop grown in pots or grow bags. Again they like a sunny shelterd spot and benefit from a south facing wall as do cucumbers and chillies and peppers.
Look good in window boxes, special designed terracotta pots or any other pots, baskets unused tins ….
Popular choices are perennials like rosemary, thyme, oregano chives or mint (better grown in pots anyway) and annuals like coriander, basil, dill or parsley.(biennial)
Don’t forget Nasturtiums which can be bought as trailing plants or smaller versions for the smaller pots. They add colour to the eye as well as your salad bowl.
LETTUCES AND OTHER GREENS
Can easily grow in boxes, tires, pots or “instant” raised beds. They have a short growing season and don’t take up lots of space. Go for the “loose leaf ” or baby leaf versions, you just harvest a few leaves instead of a whole lettuce head. Good examples are “red salat bowl, Lollo Rossa, or you can buy a pack of mixed seeds where you get a variety of seeds in one pack.
The down side of pot grown plants are , that you have to water them regularly and also should feed them with natural fertilizers. They are numerous products on the market and some of them are more specific to a certain crop or go for a multi purpose organic fertilizer.
I normally don’t buy any fertilizer and make them up myself from see weed, nettles, comfrey and other miner rich plants.
There are also special gels around to keep compost wet for longer or you can use trip watering kits when going away and can’t water regularly.
Always water either early in the morning or later in the evening, preferably with rain water instead of cold tap water. Especially blueberries prefer the more acidic rain water to tap water and your tomatoes will thrive better with rain water or less cold tap water.
IF you use old buckets, galvanised containers, re-use super market Hessian bags…..make sure there are some holes in the bottom of your chosen container.
Good luck with all your gardening