ARTICLE

How to grow vegetables in pots

Even if you've got a small garden you can still grow your own vegetables in pots and containers. Remember to give your crops at least 6 hours of sunlight a day and you'll be enjoying homegrown vegetables in no time! Follow these top tips and learn how to grow your own vegetables in pots.

How to grow vegetables in pots

TOP CONTAINER GROWING TIPS:

  • Avoid strictly north-facing spaces.
  • Containers are best started off in March.
  • Don't let containers dry out - keep them moist at all times.
  • Make sure your containers are large enough.
  • Replace crop compost once a year.

What to grow
You can grow almost any crop in pots. The most important thing is to have large enough containers and not to let them dry out completely. Remember:

  • The compatability of each edible plant with container growing is seasonal.
  • Good pot fillers include summer herbs like basil, chives, oregano and tarragon, and winter herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage, all ready to be snipped off and used to transform your cooking with fresh flavours.
  • Also well suited to pot growing are baby lettuce leaves of all sorts plus rocket, baby chard, mustard and pak choi taking about three weeks from sowing to eating.
  • There are certain seeds, plants and root stocks specifically adapted for containers, so these are the best ones to look for.

    Choosing containers
  • Splashing out on ceramic pots will soon clean out your bank account, especially large pots.
  • Any container will work, as long as it has drainage. Large tins, tubs and buckets work a treat - just remember to pierce holes in the bottoms.

    Window boxes
    If all you have is a window sill, you can still make it a viable growing space. South, or semi-south-facing, are best.
  • Providing your window opens upwards and not outwards, an outside window ledge provides space for rectangular pots that can sit securely on the ledge.
  • An inside window sill, or even a table or countertop, provides a good surface for pots.

    Watering
    Thorough watering is paramount.
  • Depending on how many containers you have, nothing beats a hose for a speedy dose of water.
  • But, where gentle watering is required, such as for seedlings and young plants, a large capacity watering can - with a rose to create a gentle shower - works well.
  • A good economy option is an old bottle with a cap – just stab a few holes in the cap and shake a shower of water over your plants.

    Container growing advantages
  • There are relatively fewer pests, especially birds, city foxes and squirrels.
  • Living in close proximity to your containers is also an advantage as your edibles are immediately accessible and maintenance is minimal
  • Crop rotation is irrelevant for container growing, whereas for annual crops, the potting compost must be replaced every year and the containers cleaned or replaced to avoid disease.

    Adapted from New Urban Farmer by Celia Brooks Brown, £8.98 (Quadrille), at Amazon.