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Ready, Set, Grow: Veggies in Containers

by Tina Shearer, Colorado Master Gardener

Container gardening is easy, fun, and productive. I have planters that are waist high, so planting (from seed or small plants) is a breeze with no strain on my back, shoulders, or knees.   There are also wheeled dishes for heavier pots that make them easy to roll around to different locations. These are excellent options for older adults as well as anyone who wants to reap the joys of gardening, but can’t get down on all fours, or have limited space for gardening.   Container gardening is also a fun family activity, providing a wonderful science and nature experience for toddlers right on through the teenaged years.

Herb pots as a container garden  Last summer, I didn’t plant my container vegetables until Father’s day and I had the most abundant crops and healthy plants ever. Look for “patio” or “bush” varietals of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Lettuce and shorter carrot cultivars also do quite well. Another fun option is growing an outdoor herb garden to enhance your favorite recipes.  My favorite is thyme on roasted chicken and vegetables; just outstanding.  I also plant chives, basil, oregano, and sage.  These herbs are easy to grow and many culinary sages and oreganos are perennial.

Some important tips for planting in containers:

  1. Be sure that all your containers for edibles are made of food safe materials and that they have drainage holes.
  2. Use the appropriate sized container for the crop you are growing.
  3. Use a good quality potting mix, and enough of it.
  4. Remember to keep an eye on moisture and fertilization. Crops and potting mix in a container will dry out and be depleted of nutrients more quickly than when planted in the ground.
  5. Place your containers where your crops will get the appropriate amount of sunlight or shade.

The following links will provide all the information you need regarding both the container size and the amount of potting mix (never garden soil) you’ll need to successfully grow the vegetables you want to eat.

Happy gardening, and bon appetit.

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