What is container gardening?
Container gardening is gardening using different types of containers that can hold enough amount of soil and plant nutrients for the growth and development of the plant in question. Specifically, it is an easy and alternative way to garden when we have no yard space. By using container gardening we can have more control over growing conditions of a plant. It is a method where we can harvest higher yields with less work.
Advantages of container gardening
If we wish to eat healthy and fresh vegetables (perhaps all year round), the best solution is container gardening. By just using few pots at home we can grow and enjoy eating fresh vegetables that we grow ourselves. Can you imagine how exciting it is if you just cut a lettuce that you have grown near by the window of your kitchen and eat it with other stuff like bread during breakfast?
As mentioned above, growing vegetables in containers is best alternative for those who do not have a garden/ space to grow their own vegetables at home. It is a method where anyone (old people, disabled ones, children, men and women) can be involved. Moving the plants to any where when ever needed is also another advantage. Furthermore, especially for children, it is the best way to teach children how plants germinate, grow, flower and mature. Last but not least, the vegetables that we are growing at home have aesthetic values.
What type of containers can be used?
Choice of the right type of container (especially size of container) for the right type of plant is very important in practicing container gardening. Generally speaking large types of plants (especially those with larger root biomass) need larger space where as smaller ones can be grown in smaller containers. Some of examples of containers that can be used for vegetable growing include buckets, barrels, boxes, baskets, etc. However, the principle behind container gardening is simply use of any container that can hold enough soil and provide enough space for the root growth of the specific vegetable that we would like to grow.
It is obvious that plants need the best possible soil, aeration, and drainage for healthy root growth and optimum harvest. For that reason, the container we are using for growing vegetables should be enough with regard to holding the required volume of soil and must have enough holes for excess water drainage.
Depending on the situation we are in, we can make a choice between different types of containers. If we are concerned about the beauty of our containers, we can buy from shops different types of pots made of different materials in different designs. However, we need to take care that the containers we are using are clean and lighter in their colors. If the color of the container (for example) is black and if we are growing the vegetables in warmer climate areas, then the container can absorb heat and negatively affect the root system of the plants.
Taking care of plants grown in containers
Plants need to get enough water for their growth and development. For that reason, in relation to watering, we need to have a careful follow up and supervision of our plants grown in pots. We have to make sure that we supply adequate amount of water to the plants, especially during the warm days. Actually, one of the advantages of growing vegetables in pots is that we have an easy access to have a look at the plant itself with regard to its growth. When watering the plant, we should not supply too much or too little water, we have to supply an optimum amount. Actually (in relation to excess watering) we have to make sure that we are using a container that has enough holes for draining excess water.
Like water, plants need to have enough amounts of plant nutrients in the soil for their growth and development. Use of good compost and spraying the plant with compost tea can be a very good management practice in relation to supplying plants with healthy source of plant nutrients and organic matter.
While placing containers where they will receive maximum sunlight and good ventilation, we need to watch for and control some diseases and insect pests.
Other important factors to consider
In gardening with containers, we can maximize production and productivity per unit of area using different techniques. The first and most important thing we need to consider is use of the right type of soil in the container and supply of enough minerals and nutrients to the plant. Please note that it is not advisable to use soil from the garden because of the fact that garden soil is can be easily water logged and may contain some disease and pests that can attack plants.
What type of plants can be used in container gardening
Nearly all types of vegetables and some types of fruit trees can be grown in containers. As mentioned above, the only question that we need to consider is our situation and the environment where we are. However, some of vegetables and fruits can perform best as compared to others. Especially vegetables and some types of fruits that are usually grown by transplanting are the ones that are best in container gardening. It is also very important that we place our vegetables at a place where they can get enough light depending on the type of vegetable. Some vegetables need much light while others do not.
The other factor we also need to consider is use of mixture of vegetable types that have different growth behaviors. We can mix (for example) plant root crops with tall climbers, or those that mature quicker with the slower ones in the same pot. This technique helps us (especially when we have limitation with resources and materials) to maximize vegetable production per unit of area. It is also very important to group plants with similar needs for natural resources like sun and water.