Page 1 of 2[12 Last

Growing vegetables in a container garden

Most Active Topic:
Most Recent Topic:
Member Message
saratogajean photos
Joined: 1/11/2008
Location: Wilmington, NC
Posts: 1
Posted: Jan/11/2008 6:33 AM PST

I've just moved into a house in coastal North Carolina (zone 7, I think) and would love to start a vegetable garden. I'm thinking of starting small (as I have a notoriously black thumb) with some vegetables in containers on my front porch, which is north facing and recieves a decent amount of sun. I'd appreciate any advice on which containers would serve me best, and which vegetables are hardy enough to survive my first attempts at growing them.

Thanks!
sweetlebee blog photos
Joined: 5/09/2005
Location:
Posts: 19587
Posted: Jan/12/2008 9:37 AM PST

I was going to ask this question myself in the spring. I want to try tomatoes on a south-facing porch. I have no garden space for veggies and they need full sun in the Northwest because of our late start for summer (After July 4, according to local lore). I hope our veggie people can give us some tips!
bensmom98 blog photos
Joined: 7/26/2006
Location: Lake Champlain Valley
Posts: 9121
Posted: Jan/12/2008 4:39 PM PST

I have grown tomatoes and cukes in a container facing South. But this is in Zone 4a.
meska photos
Joined: 4/29/2007
Location: Tennessee Sock Country
Posts: 9201
Posted: Jan/12/2008 7:38 PM PST

I did container vegetables for the first time this past summer. I did bush beans and grape tomatoes in containers that faced south, and they both did quite well. I also had a beautiful cantaloupe plant in a container facing south, believe it or not. Strawberries, too, except the birds ate just about all of them before I could ever get to them. I'm in zone 6b last time I checked. Most of my pictures were wiped out during our summer glitch, and I never reposted, but there are some left, I think.

I used Miracle-Gro Moisture Control potting soil because our summers are so hot and dry, especially in recent years. DO NOT USE THE SOIL FOR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. THAT IS STRICTLY FOR MIXING WITH GROUND SOIL. Your plants will appear to be doing fine, but then will get terribly root bound and strangle to death, if they don't burn first. Chalk it up to experience, but at least I was able to save mine before it was too late. It was a huge amount of work, though.

I did a lot of research about container size, etc. on the web and in old threads right here on GG. I don't even remember everything I did and learned now. One thing that was very helpful to me was reading about "square-foot gardening." Google it.

I highly recommend "self-watering" containers for bush beans, and they're not too expensive at Wal-mart. They're plastic. They help you know how much to water, and they're also helpful in drought conditions.

Everything I read told me that tomatoes need deep containers, and I got 17" ones that were probably that deep, as well, pretty plastic ones that looked like clay pots. They were not self-watering, but they were so deep that combined with the moisture control, they held the moisture quite well. Make sure you punch out extra drain holes in the bottom, and line the bottom with packing peanuts. Only 1 tomato plant per pot. People also use 5 gallon buckets, plastic trash cans, etc.

I had 4 bush bean plants in about a 13 in. container, as I recall (could've been 15). You plant them from seed, and it's amazing how fast they come up!! Within about 10 days they are 2-3 in. tall, and they were so good. Don't expect a huge harvest from only 4 plants, however. I will probably plant more this year, if I'm able to plant at all. I'm afraid I won't have the help that I had last year, and I have to have help with those heavy bags of soil.
CarolineC blog photos
Joined: 7/14/2007
Location: SE Pennsylvania zone 6b
Posts: 393
Posted: Jan/13/2008 4:35 PM PST

meska offers some really good insight there. I guess the main consideration with container gardening is making sure that you have big enough containers--so that the plants don't become rootbound and so that they get enough nutrients and water. The other consideration would be whether the plants are freestanding or require trellising. You could certainly trellis/cage a plant that's in a container, though. I am planning on growing tomatoes, which require a stake or cage to keep them upright, and zucchini in containers this year. Zucchini grows upright with about a 3 ft. wide spread. Both of these I'm planning on growing in 2 gal. pots. My Mom has successfully grown small hot peppers in 1 gallon pots. Some other things to consider for containers--dwarf citrus trees, if you have a sunny window to keep them in for the winter. Dwarf blueberry bushes are another good one for containers--2 varieties are best for pollination. Well... those are just some thoughts. These are not things that I have yet tried, btw, but have done a little research, and the tomatoes, zucchini, and dwarf citrus trees are things that I'm hoping to try. I did have a veggie garden in the ground last year, though, which included tomatoes and zucchini.
meska photos
Joined: 4/29/2007
Location: Tennessee Sock Country
Posts: 9201
Posted: Jan/14/2008 7:11 AM PST

Yes, CC, you can cage tomatoes in containers. I caged mine that were in 17" ones. There are still some pics of them in my profile. I had one plant in a gallon container, just for an experiment. I tied it to the posts on my deck. BTW, it produced the grape tomatoes pretty well, but, of course, not as well as the bigger containers; and the squirrels went for that one, too, much more than the others because it was sitting on a bench like it was there just for them.

BTW, if you should try baby carrots, a couple of things. The ones you would see in my photos were grown in a much deeper container than the ones that were still growing behind them at the time. Those harvested carrots were grown in the same size pot as the green ones you see that I had my bush beans in (13-15 in.) They made a really, really pretty green display in the pot!! Only thing is, if I do them again, I will not plant them in potting soil. I think because they are a root veg, they took on a bitter flavor from the soil and kind of made my throat burn. I only ate a bite of a couple different ones. Had to throw them away. I will do more research on them before I plant them again, unless I just want a really pretty green potted plant!

The little carrot plants just started behind the harvested ones I was experimenting with to see if that container was just deep enough for what was supposted to be 3-4 in. carrots (turned out much bigger as did the grape tomatoes, probably due to the MG). I don't know if it was or not because we were hit with a terrible drought and temps consistently over 100 for a month, and I lost interest. I didn't keep up with them like I should have, and carrots like cool temps anyway. (Plant early.) I had one plant in a milk jug in "soiless" potting soil, and I didn't let it grow long enough before I tried it, so it was just a stub, but it did not have that bitter taste! It was sweet.

One last thing. You might not want to start out with as many varieties as I did! It just about killed me! (It's also kind of expensive to start out, but I imagine you could save money by making your own soil mix. Only thing is that I'm not sure you'd be able to have moistrue crystals that way, and that's quite important if you are drought prone, or leave for a day or two. I had to have a plant sitter come over here and there when I left for a week. )

Just a few more thoughts.
sweetlebee blog photos
Joined: 5/09/2005
Location:
Posts: 19587
Posted: Jan/14/2008 9:26 AM PST

Meska, did you get a lot of grape tomatoes? I'm thinking of growing either cherry tomatoes or the small yellow pear tomatoes. I only want a few containers of tomatoes and I thought I'd get a better yield for salads with the cherry tomatoes than with regular tomatoes.
meska photos
Joined: 4/29/2007
Location: Tennessee Sock Country
Posts: 9201
Posted: Jan/15/2008 12:36 PM PST

I got more in the fall than I did during the summer, but I'm sure that's because of the drought. I just didn't want to go outside and water anymore. Got really lazy. I'm surprised they didn't die.

They were going like gangbusters in early November when we had a freeze, and everything died overnight.

I'd definitely go with cherry or grape (I don't know about the pear ones you mentioned) over regular tomatoes. It is a much higher yield for salads, imo, and just to pop in your mouth for candy. That's pretty much what I grew them for--to snack on. Love 'em!

I only got grape because I couldn't find any cherries by the time I was ready to plant. They were huge grape ones, though, compared to ones I've seen in the store. For salads they had to be sliced but made nice little 1" or so sliced rounds. They were Juliette.
sweetlebee blog photos
Joined: 5/09/2005
Location:
Posts: 19587
Posted: Jan/15/2008 12:40 PM PST

The grape tomatoes seem to have thicker skins than cherry. Were the Juliettes like that?
meska photos
Joined: 4/29/2007
Location: Tennessee Sock Country
Posts: 9201
Posted: Jan/15/2008 12:41 PM PST

You mentioned Rick liking cantaloupe. I hope you try one, if nothing else just the fun of it. Mine looked so pretty sprawling on the deck. I didn't get pictures of when it was at its prettiest. The sweetest, best cantaloupe I have ever tasted! Not that many, but they were MINE! And I think if I had started out with the epsom salt earlier, I could have gotten more.
Page 1 of 2[12 Last
Read Next Discussion
You must be a registered member to participate in the forums. Login or register below.


or Create an account