Extend vegetable garden season with containers

Rob Zimmer

Have you tried growing vegetables, fruits and herbs in containers? For many reasons, growing edible plants in containers is becoming more and more popular. Make this year your year for trying this fun and simple way to grow more food.

There are many benefits to growing edible plants in containers. For starters, if you have poor soil — either too dry, too much clay or too wet — containers are a simple solution. Perfect soil every time. Using a high-quality potting mix is all it takes to get started growing amazing tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, herbs and more in convenient containers.

For those with small spaces or even no yard space to garden, containers make the ultimate solution. You can grow a variety of edible plants in containers of all shapes and sizes. Plus, they are portable, so you can place them wherever sunlight is best. You can even move them indoors, if needed, on frosty spring or fall nights.

Another benefit of growing edibles in containers is that it pretty much eliminates the need for weeding. Keeping up with weeds in the ground garden is a chore that often tires out gardeners, or they simply give up by midsummer and let the weeds reign. However, growing in containers means very few weeds, if any, since you are using fresh potting mix and planting your edibles quite closely.

Gardening in containers is easy and fun for all ages, as well. A great way to get children interested in gardening, let them have the freedom to plant their favorites together and create their own mini vegetable gardens.

Hanging gardens are also a joy and easy to maintain. There are a number of edible plants that do wonderfully in hanging baskets. Fill a hanging basket with cherry tomato plants, strawberries, herbs, lettuces or a combination of all and let them do their thing. Many garden centers sell pre-planted hanging tomatoes, peppers, strawberry planters and more.

Herbs make excellent container plants, and it’s easy to create some beautiful — as well as practical — container creations. Combine colorful basils, variegated sage, thyme, lemon balm, mints and more to create amazing container gardens.

Lettuces of all shapes, sizes and colors combine to create beautiful and useful container gardens as well. Lettuces can be grown in sun or shade, making them a great choice for container growing.

Containers make it easy to grow root crops, as well. If your soil is too heavy or dry for root crops, try growing these delicious crops from seed in containers.

For carrots, depending on the size, use deeper containers. For radishes and beets and onions, shallower containers may be used. Simply fill the container with a high-quality potting mix and sow your seeds. You can grow in traditional rows, as you would in the garden, by using window box-style planters, or you can scatter into round pots or other shapes and sizes.

Tomatoes and peppers, even cucumbers make excellent container plants. A trend you can find online is growing larger varieties of these plants in 5 gallon pails. Five-gallon pail gardening is a simple, easy and space-saving method of vegetable gardening. Check out some examples of this gardening method with a simple online search.

It is important that whatever containers you use have proper drainage. Be sure to drill holes in the bottom if your container has none.

Enjoy planting and growing vegetables in containers.

Rob Zimmer is a nature and garden author, public speaker and radio show host on WHBY. Readers can find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors.