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Traditional gardens require a lot of space, adequate sunlight, and an ongoing investment of time, however Container gardening offers an alternative way to grow fresh fruits and vegetables with more limited resources.
Growing plants in containers has several advantages – it’s easy to put them in any convenient location such as a window sill, balcony, patio, or front door. The soil in containers heats up quickly, which gives a head start when growing vegetables in early spring. In case of frost, the containers can be placed in a temporarily sheltered place or protected with a blanket or floating row cover. Loose, premixed and well drained Container earth provides a clean start to plant growth by avoiding problems such as compaction, soil borne diseases, hibernating insects and weeds that are found in traditional garden soils.
Overall, container gardening is simple, versatile, almost low maintenance, and accessible to all ages and abilities, but it also has some limitations. Contained plants require frequent watering, especially during the hot, dry summer season, and containers that hold five gallons or more are heavy and may not be easy to transport.
Due to size and volume restrictions, not all standard varieties of garden plants are suitable for growing in containers. For a successful container gardening business, it is important to choose the right type of containers, plant varieties, soil mix, and water and fertilization plan.
Choosing the right container: Choosing the right container to meet the shoot and root needs of a mature plant, provides stability for upright growth. Plastic buckets, broken wheelbarrows, wooden barrels, plastic garbage bags and dumpsters can all be recycled for container garden use. Porous materials such as terracotta and ceramic or clay pots Hypertufa planter need a little more attention when watering as they dry out faster than plastic containers.
White, tan, or other light-colored containers will absorb less heat than dark ones, which will avoid root stress, and adequate drainage holes on the bottom of their sides are critical to drain off excess water. Placing containers on a slightly elevated surface such as bricks or paving stones also facilitates the free flow of excess water.
Containers should also be the right depth and volume to support all plant growth. For smaller plants like lettuce, onion sets, peas, radishes, garlic, cilantro, and spinach, a minimum of 2 gallon container 4-6 inches deep is required. Larger plants like tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, eggplants, cucumbers, and beans will require at least a 5-gallon container that is 8-12 inches deep.
Choosing the Right Varieties: Dwarf and compact plant varieties do well in a container and look attractive. The following list of vegetables suitable for the container garden has been compiled from selected seed catalogs and Expansion of the University of Illinois Publications:
- Tomatoes: Jetstar, Celebrity, Super Bush, Pixie, Patio Paste, Cherry Punch, Power Pops, Cherry Jubilee, Patio Princess, Bush Early Girl, Bush Big Boy, Sweetheart of the Patio, Maglia Rosa, Baby Boomer, Tumbler, Cherry Falls, Husky Red, Lizzano, Peardrops, Pony Express, Primo Red, Terenzo, Tumbling Tom Red, Tumbling Tom Yellow, Bush Steak and Baby Boomer
- Aubergines: Patio Baby, Hansel, Gretel, Ivory, Ophelia, Pinstripe, Dusky and Early Midnight
- Beans: Mascotte, Topcrop, Tendercrop, Derby, Eureka and Porch Pick
- Cucumber: Patio Snacker, Salatbusch, Space Master, Champion and Iznik
- Pepper: Cajun Belle, Cayennetta, Mariachi, New Ace, Orange Blaze, Cute Stuff Red, Lady Bell, Gypsy, Crispy, Red Chili, Cherry Stuffer, Tangerine Dream, and Sweet Golden Baby Belle
- Radish: French Breakfast, Red Satin, Champion, Comet, Sparkler, White Icicle, Early Scarlet Globe, Rido Red and D’Avignon
- Carrot: Paris Market, Little Finger, Danver’s Half Long, Nantes Half Long and Yaya
- Peas: peas in a pot
- Beetroot: Ruby Queen, Detroit Dark Red Med Top, Burpee’s Golden, and Chioggia
- Okra: Jambalaya, Carmine Splendor, and Clemson Spineless
- Chard: Bright Lights, Peppermint, Fordhook Giant and Lucullus
- Squash: Supersett, Multipik and Golden Zebra
In addition, many herbs and lettuce leaves are perfect for containers
Soil Mixture, Irrigation, and Fertilization: Soilless mixes containing peat and perlite are the best option for a medium. Morning is the best time to water container gardens. plants should be poured thoroughly at the base when the top inch of the container medium appears dry. Organic mulch helps maintain soil moisture in the media, and containers should be moved to a sheltered area in strong winds. Depending on the type of vegetable Fertilization plan varies during the growing season at intervals of 2 to 8 weeks.
Vijai Pandian is horticultural agent and instructor for the University of Wisconsin Extension Brown County. This article is adapted from an article originally published from the Green Bay Press Gazette.
How to get off to a great start with container gardening was originally published on WisContext who produced the article in a partnership between Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin.