Vegetable garden in planters

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Most people only associate planters with growing flowers and, maybe, herbs. But vegetables also do great in these contained and compact environments. Often with less problems and disturbance – through moles and such, for instance – than in beds, whether ordinary or raised.

What vegetables you can grow in which planter is dependent on the planter size, though almost anything can be grown in a tub or other planter. One important thing to remember is that planters, often, dry out quicker than ordinary or raised beds and hence require a little more watering.

I have been using raised beds and containers of a variety of types and sizes and the recent problems with moles in my raised beds and garden in general is leading me to growing everything in containers, above the ground.

When deciding what to plant where, consideration must be taken of the space needs of the plants and that of their roots, along with what amount of sunlight different plants require. For example, tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions have about same watering requirements and those for exposure to sunlight. Also, some plants, such as tomatoes, will continue growing after other vegetables have ceased to yield their harvest for the season.

Great vegetables to grow in planters are salad crops of a variety of types, such as leaf salads of various kinds, and some of those – you can get packets of mixed seeds – can even be grown in big terracotta plant pots.

Choosing which garden planters to use is a matter of personal taste. A lot of people opt for the classic wooden planters because they are natural looking and attractive, hold up well outdoors, and are relatively easy to build by hand.

Some other materials found in garden planters include metal, fiberglass and stone, each of which has its various advantages and disadvantages. When considering planters, one must also note that some planters are free-standing, whereas others are mounted or attach to window sills. If you have limited space or reside in an urban setting, you may choose to opt for the latter type.

There are people who like to use tires as planters and while that works rather well, stacking them on top of one another if greater depth is required, only non-radial tires should be used for this purpose. Tubeless radial, steel-belted, tires release cadmium into the soil and either should be avoided altogether or a liner of sorts must be used.

Regardless of which material or model you choose, there are some basic things to take into consideration. All garden planters should come equipped with a rudimentary drainage system, often something as simple as having holes on the bottom from where water seepage can exit.

Excess water, especially in the case of strong rains, can easily kill a plant or plants (believe me – it has happened to me even with drainage), especially those varieties prone to drier environments. If your planter does not have drainage, it is usually pretty easy to drill a few holes into the bottom of your vegetable garden planter.

Another concern for planters is color. This is not simply an aesthetic consideration. The reason is that darker colored containers are apt to absorb more sunlight than light containers, the result of which is more heat. Too high of a temperature can damage a plant’s roots. If you already have decided on a dark container, consider keeping it in the shade and planting vegetables there that also do not require direct sunlight.

Aside from the garden planters themselves, soil and water are the other key elements that must be applied correctly. Using regular soil will work, especially when paired with organic fertilizer of some sort, such as compost or manure. Space permitted, starting your own compost pile can also add valuable nutrients to the soil.

Another great way of planting in containers is the lasagne gardening method. Check it out on the Internet for further details. The main idea here is, as far as I am concerned, that you save soil.

Finally, watering is obviously of the utmost importance, but too much watering can have the opposite effect. Vegetables in garden planters require more frequent watering than ground planted vegetables, especially once the plants have begun to mature and the roots expand. Checking the soil’s moisture by touch on a regular basis is the best way to keep track of how much watering is needed. Also remember to adjust your watering schedule in light of temperature and weather changes.

Some plant seed specialists have now have brought out special plants for containers such as did D. T. Brown in the UK.

© 2010