By Tiffany Rowe, Seek Visibility
Imagine walking out into your own backyard and picking some just-ripened strawberries, some herbs for dinner, or the fixings for a whole salad. Not only is it convenient, but it’s healthy, and it’s fun, too.
If you’ve been thinking you want to try growing your own food but don’t want to do all that work bending over and then dealing with bugs and critters who will race you to your bounty, this is the year to try container gardening. It’s the way to grow tomatoes, zucchini and other summer squash, bell peppers, hot peppers, and many other kinds of vegetables as well as lemons, strawberries, and other fruit with a minimum of effort and a lot of rewards.
While you’re devoting yourself to your new effort, don’t let your lawn fade away, though. Give yourself a break and call a lawn service Dallas homeowners count on to take care of it for you with experts who will keep it green and trouble-free while you grow your prize-winning produce.
Find the Sunny Spots
Fruits and vegetables need full sun in order to grow and ripen. That means a minimum of six, and preferably eight, hours of direct sunlight every day. Scope out potential spots in your yard and check them out periodically over the course of a day to make sure trees or patio covers aren’t going to cast their shadows over the plants. One of the benefits of growing in containers is that as the sun moves over the course of the spring and summer, you can move the pots, too.
It’s more convenient to take care of the plants if they’re all in one general area, but there’s no reason why you can’t scatter them about in order to take advantage of the sun. Different varieties have different needs, though, so try to keep plants of one kind together so you’re sure to give them the same amount of water and food, and so insects that may attack one kind of plant don’t have an easy hop to another kind. (There are actually plants that don’t like each other at all, but that’s more of an issue when you’re planting them directly in the garden rather than in containers.)
Select the Containers
For most food plants, the larger the container the better. The exception is herbs, which can grow happily in smaller pots. You want the containers to be attractive, of course, so almost anything you like will suit the purpose as long as it has sufficient drainage holes so excess water doesn’t pool and suffocate roots.
Do be aware that terra cotta pots will require more watering because of their porous nature, and that dark-colored and metal pots absorb and retain heat and may make the soil too warm for some plants, particularly under the hot Texas sun.
When you’re choosing containers, consider these basic guidelines:
- For tomatoes, one plant per 5-gallon container. The width of the pot should allow for staking or caging the growing plant and its fruit, and the container depth should be no less than 24 inches.
- For zucchini and other summer squash, two plants per 5-gallon container. As with tomatoes, you’ll want a trellis or cage to support the vines as they grow or they will trail out of the container.
- For cucumbers, two plants per 5-gallon container. No need for a support if you’re growing the bush rather than vining variety.
- For peppers, two plants per 5-gallon container.
- For peas and green beans you can sow seeds directly into a window-box style container that’s just 9 inches deep. Pole beans will need a trellis, while bush beans won’t.
- For lettuce and spinach, you only need a container that’s 6 inches deep.
- For strawberries, you can use just about any container because the plant has very shallow roots. But best is the vertical pot with pockets that is especially made for growing them. A strawberry pot is particularly beneficial because it keeps the delicate fruit from laying on the soil and thus away from critters that will nibble on it.
- For dwarf lemon and other citrus trees, a 5-gallon, 10 to 14-inch diameter container is fine for starting out a 2-year old tree you buy at a nursery. You’ll want to transplant the tree as it grows, but beginning with a container that’s too large will make the moisture level hard to control.
Feed, Water, and Enjoy
Start feeding your plants about a month after planting, using a water-soluble fertilizer and following package directions for each variety. Weeds shouldn’t be an issue, but pluck any as soon as you see them. Because you’ve controlled the growing medium, disease shouldn’t be much of a problem, either, but watch for insect damage and treat it promptly with an eco-friendly product made for food plants.
Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content throughout the World Wide Web. Tiffany prides herself in her strong ability to provide high quality content that readers will find valuable. She enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content for various niches. You can often find Tiffany looking up new D.I.Y projects for the weekend or attempting to teach her pup new tricks. Favorite quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou