Container Gardening


Climbing beans in a bathtub

Much has been made recently about container gardening. I think this is because people that have never gardened before are starting to try their luck with a small vegetable garden, or because many would be gardeners have limited space, as in apartment or city dwellers with only small area in which to grow their vegetable plants. Container gardening is an ideal solution to the problem of limited space or to cope with poor soil conditions.

Container gardening has many advantages over the old plant in the ground method but some of the more important ones are:

  • You can grow vegetables in any container that will hold soil.
  • You have a much greater control of the composition of your soil, including nutrients.
  • You have a much greater control of common garden pests.
  • You can ensure optimal moisture content of your soil.
  • It is easier to care for your vegetable plants (weeding, pruning, & etc.).

There are many more advantages but these are the ones that seem most important to me. Having good control of your soil, pests, and moisture, is ninety percent of the battle to ensure you have a productive and healthy garden.

Choosing your containers is easy if you use a little common sense. You wouldn’t want to try to grow potatoes in a 1 pint flower pot, but a 5 gallon bucket would work just fine. As I mentioned above; anything that will hold soil will work, just allow for drainage so you don’t have water standing in the bottom of your container to turn sour and ruin your vegetable plants or drown the roots. My wife uses an old bathtub to grow pole beans and peppers.

You can build your own containers. We built a container for tomatoes using rocks for the sides and lined it with plastic sheeting. As long as you allow for drainage you can use anything you have. I saw an article by a guy that used 6 inch PVC pipe laid flat with 2 inch holes cut in the top every 12 inches or so for the plants. He put old socks over the ends of the pipe to hold in the soil and allow for drainage. This wouldn’t work well for root crops but it would be great for most anything else. You are only limited by your imagination.

The greatest advantage, in my opinion, is that you have complete control of what is in your soil. You can make sure the soil in your containers is optimized for the vegetable plants growing in it. Different plants require different ph levels and nutrients. You can make sure they have exactly the growing conditions they need.

It is not surprising that container gardening has become so popular. It allows you a degree of versatility and control you just can not get in a traditional vegetable garden. Even if you have never tried to grow vegetables before, you can have great results with your very first effort.