Container Veggie Gardening: 7 Steps to Growing Great Vegetables
By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist
Yes, vegetable gardens can be a chore to maintain, and yes, the price of tomatoes does go down in summer anyway—but most people agree there is nothing better than the taste of home-grown veggies.
To minimize care and make best use of small spaces, the garden editors at Sunset Magazine suggest growing vegetables in pots. Here’s how:
• Begin by choosing a few generous size pots, some good potting soil, and a space on the deck, patio or back yard that gets at least six hours of sun daily.
• Fill the pots with a high-quality potting soil containing peat moss and perlite. Blend in a complete fertilizer, either a dry organic product―such as one containing alfalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, or other natural nutrients― or a controlled-release type that supplies nutrients over a three- to six-month period. If you plan to water pots by hand, add soil polymers such as Broadleaf P4 (available at most garden centers.
• Plant seeds or seedling plants of favorite summer veggies such as tomatoes, peppers or eggplants. Cucumbers and squash require space for trailing vines.
• Water frequently enough to keep the soil moist. Drip irrigation is a preferred method, but if you water by hand, do so often enough to keep the soil moist at all times.
• Feed regularly. If you use an organic fertilizer at planting time, supplement it with weekly applications of fish emulsion or reapply dry organic fertilizer according to package directions. If you use controlled-release fertilizer, give vegetables a boost by applying fish emulsion every two to three weeks.
• Control pests, such as aphids, mites, or whiteflies, by spraying them with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Handpick and destroy tomato worms.
• Harvest when crops are ripe, tomatoes when fully colored, peppers when fully grown and green, eggplants when skin is shiny, cucumbers and squash before they get too big and seedy.