Growing Your Own Vegetable Garden in Pots
By Ama H. Vanniarachchy
The satisfaction of harvesting your own food from your garden is a heavenly feeling. Moreover, it is something that you can be proud of yourself for. The satisfaction you get when you see the tiny seeds generate tiny plants and to see how they grow and bare vegetables, all shining and plump, is incomparably satisfying.
On the other hand, it is healthy to have organic food and it is a privilege that many don’t have. Also, the positive impact this has on your family economy is great and this will cut off a considerable amount of time spent on grocery shopping. Furthermore, the contribution to environmental conservation and sustainable development through home gardening makes you a worthy and responsible citizen.
So let’s awaken the farmer in you and learn some easy steps to grow a vegetable garden in pots and containers.
Space and containers
Most of the urban gardens are not spacious; therefore, it is efficient to grow plants in containers and pots. Larger plants will need larger containers while much smaller plants can be grown in pots. Plastic containers will be easy to handle while wooden and clay pots will be echo friendly and also will last longer than plastic containers. However, high-quality plastic pots will also last for a longer period. It will be economical to reuse old ice-cream containers, old plastic buckets, and old plastic drink bottles or any other used plastic and tin containers in the household. A hole should be drilled in the bottom of the container and depending on the size it may also be more than one hole.
Make sure you choose a space that is sunlit as most of the vegetables love the sun. Also, the hot sun is a natural way to keep away snails. Furthermore, flowering plants such as Xenias and Tagetes, which helps to attract friendly insects and bees, will thrive well under the hot sun.
Feeding your plants
Plants need nutrition to thrive, and their food is fertilizer. If your soil doesn’t have fertilizer already mixed in, add some several times throughout the growing. Many gardeners mix organic, granular fertilizer into the containers from top to bottom before planting. Then, every couple of weeks, add diluted liquid fish emulsion or liquid seaweed to give the plants the nutrition they need. Another way to add fertilizer is to make or buy compost.
Creating optimal drainage
Drainage is key to keep plants from drowning. Your container should let excess water out of the bottom, so your plants won’t sit in overly soggy soil and succumb to root rot. There should be one large hole or several smaller holes located at the base of your container.
You can usually drill holes if the drainage is insufficient, and you can cover a large hole before adding soil with a coffee filter or plastic screening to keep the dirt from coming out the bottom. If your container sits on a hard surface, the hole might plug up. Elevating your container with pot feet or a pot cart will help your plants drain with ease.
There are potting mixtures available in garden shops and also you can make your own potting mixture. However, it is much handy to buy them rather than making them at home. You can make your compost at home and this is an excellent idea to reuse kitchen food waste and dead leaves in the garden.
Understanding how much time you can allocate
You will need much time in the beginning and then followed up by a routine checkup to make sure your plants are safe from insects and diseases. Also, it is important to check the soil from time to time to see whether it needs more fertilizer and water.
Selecting the seeds/plants
It is not advisable to plant more than five crops as a beginner. Choose the best low maintenance and fast-growing crops and then once you are successful you can go for more crops. Here are five of the best vegetables that can be grown in containers and will be satisfying for any new urban gardener.
Green chili – a super easy plant to grow and this will never disappoint the gardener as it will give you an abundance of harvest. Green chilies are essential in Sri Lankan cuisine.
Bitter gourd – another easy to grow vegetable is the fast-growing Bitter gourd. The vine will need a supporter therefore it is advisable to grow the plant closer to a wall or fix a plant runner. Make sure to protect the flowers from harsh winds and heavy rains. These can be eaten raw, fried, or cooked.
Pumpkin – Pumpkins are a pleasant crop to grow but the only restrain is that you will need much space for this plant. It is advisable to grow this plant in a large flat container. Pumpkins can be eaten in salads, cooked, and also as a dessert.
Tomatoes – Although tomatoes need special care while it grows, this wonderful plant is a pleasant sight once it bears plumy, shiny, and juicy tomatoes. This again is essential in Sri Lankan cuisine and can be eaten raw or cooked.
Cucumber – Once again a vine, cucumbers can be eaten in many ways, raw or cooked.
Taking care of the plants
Make sure you take care of your plants especially when they are young and tender and while they are bearing flowers. Harsh winds and heavy rains will be disastrous to your plants. Also, snails will be deadly for your plants, therefore make sure direct sunlight is there and also grow some flowering plants such as Xenias and Tagetes to keep them away.