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Contain Your Garden!

It doesn’t take an acre of space to grow fresh produce at home. In fact, you can garden in just about anything that will hold dirt, provided the container offers drainage. Think outside the average pot and take a cue from the folks over at Make, who will teach you how to craft a container garden out of just about anything.

Large or small, container gardens offer some great incentives. Take, for instance, the low (to no!) occurrence of weeds, or the ability to modify the soil for what you want to grow; some plants prefer acidic soil, others basic — and container gardening allows you to be plant-specific in a way that in-ground gardens might not. Best of all, containers are completely adaptable to your space and style.

ParsleyHerbs can be grown in a fairly shallow container in a windowsill. Parsley, sage, cilantro, basil, thyme, chives, and mint are some of the best container herbs. A sunny spot in a windowsill or on a porch is really all you need to get started. Be sure your container has adequate drainage, healthy soil, gets plenty of sun and is kept evenly moist. Parsley, cilantro, and basil are super easy to start from seed. Sow thickly in your container, and begin to harvest once the leaves are grown in. Harvest from different sections each week, so that the herbs have time to grow back, and you’ll have a nice steady supply!

Lettuce is another easy edible to grow in a small space. In fact, most leafy green varieties do fairly well in containers, but lettuces are especially apt to thrive because they don’t need much room for their roots. Arugula is another good one to try in a pot, provided it’s nice and cool outside. Sow lettuce seeds nice and thick (it doesn’t crowd easily), and harvest a few days apart. That way, you can always harvest fresh lettuce.

But don’t stop with edible leaves! Fruits and vegetables are often available in container or dwarf varieties. Carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers are some of the easy, no-hassle veggies that happily take root in containers. These will need plenty of sunshine, and will likely fare better in outdoor containers.   

Tomatoes can be grown in pots, but be sure to look for “determinate” or bush varieties, which will be better suited to a container garden. Choose a deep, wide pot and be sure to give the tomato a cage to grow up in. Or, try your hand at growing them upside down!

Cucumbers are another summer crop that can be grown in a larger pot. Again, look for bush varieties like the aptly named Spacemaster. These don’t necessarily need a trellis or cage to grow and will reward you with an impressive harvest.

Peppers make for lovely container plants, and one plant will keep you sufficiently spicy! Really, any variety will do here. From tiny, fiery habaneros to big, sweet bells, pepper plants do best in a pot that’s at least 12 inches wide. Keep pepper plants in the sun and harvest often – they’ll be even more prolific.

Citrus is a great fruit to grow in large containers —the larger the better (around 20 gallons). It’s vital to have well-draining soil in a citrus container. Key limes, satsumas, Meyer lemons and kumquats will be happy container plants provided they’re given great care and attention.  

Do you spy some DIY container garden vessels around your house? What’s the first thing you’re going to grow?


Images by Amber Pollei.

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Dawn says …

Thought of you when I saw this Thought you might like this idea

Amanda terillo says …

Can you recommend a soil/fertilizer to use?

Linda L. Lawless says …

How do I propagate Basil or other herbs from my original plant?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@AMANDA - I spoke with Amber and she mentioned that a good soil to recommend for container gardens is a mix of well-draining soil (best to ask at your local nursery, or see what's at Whole Foods!) plus good, healthy compost. For fruits and vegetables it's best to have a nutrient mix that includes nitrogen and phosphates. Choose a fertilizer that's approved for organic gardening on your fruits and veggies. One of her favorite types includes aerobically composted turkey litter, feather meal, sulfate of potash, and molasses. Brands will vary by location, but the Ladybug Natural Brand (http://www.ladybugbrand.com/) is one she uses and trusts. Hope this helps!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LINDA - Propagating your basil is easy! Trim a healthy stem from your existing basil plant. Put it in a jar of water in your windowsill, and watch as roots begin to form. Once the stem has a good amount of roots, simply plant it in the ground and keep it watered. Other herbs will vary, but basil is one of the easiest! Mint is super easy, too; Amber mentioned she has successfully grown it the same way.