Nothing tastes quite as good as homegrown vegetables picked fresh from your garden. But not everyone has the space or time for a big garden. An increasing number of people living in townhouses, condos and apartments, as well as those who don't have a lot of leisure time, have discovered how to enjoy this summertime delight by growing vegetables in containers.
1. Choosing the plants: Some tried and true vegetables suitable for containers include tomatoes, sweet or hot peppers and eggplants. No matter what you decide to grow, it's a good idea to look for varieties that include names like bush, dwarf or compact. These smaller types will perform well in pots.
2. The right container: The bigger the pot the better, bearing in mind what you can lift or have room for. Before choosing, think about the plant's size when full-grown. And be sure the pot has drainage holes. There are many types of container available to choose from, including terra cotta, plastic, resin or ceramic.
3. The proper soil mix: Use potting soil, never a topsoil or garden soil, which becomes compacted so much your plants won’t be able to breathe. Potting soil, on the other hand, is lighter, airier and allows excess water to escape so roots don't become waterlogged.
4. The right location: Vegetables need at least six hours of sun a day.
5. Care and harvest: Vegetables also need regular watering. Check your plants by testing the surface of the soil to see if it's dry. You may find they need watering once a day, or more, especially as roots grow, the fruit develops and summer days become hotter. Terra cotta pots wick moisture from the soil more than other materials, so water these more often. Although plants should be kept consistently moist, don't overwater them.
6. Keep a watch on the weather: Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants don't like the cold and won't tolerate even a light frost. Wait to plant until all danger of frost is over, and use frost protective materials when a late snap frost threatens. Certain other crops, such as lettuce and cabbage, enjoy the cold and can be started outside in April.
7. Pests: Watch for pests throughout the growing season—potted plants are just as susceptible to pests as those grown in the ground.
8. Plant food: When fertilizing, use plant food specifically formulated for vegetables.