Greenhouse, Garden & Allotment Blog

Container Gardening: How to Get Started

Posted by Alix Francis on 30th Jan 2019

If you’re eager to start growing your own veg but have a small garden or live somewhere with a limited growing space, container gardening is the one for you.

All you need is a small, well lit space and you can start your own mini veg plot.

Apart from giving you a place to grow veg, container gardening offers many other benefits such as;

  • It saves water as you only need to water your containers
  • Produces healthy plants as it’s easier to maintain than a garden
  • You have fewer pest issues because you can relocate your container easily
  • Sunlight can be taken advantage of as you can move your container to suit your growing needs
  • Growing in containers offers perfect growing condition
  • It’s a convenient way to grow

What You Need to Start Container Gardening

Being prepared and kitting yourself out with the correct tools is essential to the success of container gardening. We’ve created a list of tools you will need to help get you started;

  • 1.Container to suit growing needs
  • 2.Compost
  • 3.Seeds
  • 4.Area with good sunlight
  • 5.Water
  • 6.Trowel
  • 7.Transplanter
  • 8.Cultivator
  • 9.Hand fork

Choosing the Right Container

If your container needs to be outside all year, it’s best to choose a frost-proof terracotta as other plastic containers which are labelled frost-proof have still been known to crack when temperatures really drop.

You can buy plastic terracotta containers which are made from plastic or fibreglass, these are great for larger crops which need to be moved around out of frosty conditions.

Your container needs to be large enough to hold the roots for the crops you want to grow. Smaller pots tend to dry out quicker, so if you can plant your crops in groups in large containers.

Avoid potting a small plant straight into a large container, excess compost will become waterlogged and can potentially lead to root rot or death of the plant. It’s best to increase one pot size at a time.

Make sure your container has plenty of holes for drainage.

Place drainage material over the holes in the bottom of your container, broken up polystyrene, stones or broken terracotta plant pots are good ideas to use. Don’t use too much material as it’s important that your plants and crops have as much rooting area as possible.

To stop the container becoming waterlogged raise the container on top small blocks or bricks, if possible.

What Composts Are Best for Container Gardening?

The composts that should be used in your containers are different to the garden compost you might of used before.

Potting compost or potting media is specifically formulated for use in pots.

For short term plants use a multipurpose peat-free compost.

For permanent plantings use a soil based compost.

Add a general-purpose fertiliser to them too.

Lime-hating plants need ericaceous composts.

Save time by adding water retaining granules to summer plantings and add slow release fertiliser to compost when planting up permanent plants.

How to Plant Up Containers 

  • 1.Place the drainage material in the bottom of your container.
  • 2.Fill the container with compost. Leave enough room to arrange your plants on the surface.
  • 3.Carefully remove your plants from their pots or gently sow your crop seed.
  • 4.Firm the compost around your plants or seeds.
  • 5.Water well and top up with compost/mulch.
  • 6.Leave a 2.5cm gap between the soil level and the top of the container.

Maintaining Your Containers

From April – September its worth checking your soil moisture levels daily, if it’s looking and feeling a bit dry give them some water.

Feed your plants or crops 4-6 weeks after planting unless using a slow release fertiliser.

April-September is a good time to use a general-purpose liquid feed. Do not use if you have a slow release fertiliser in place.

Feeding isn’t necessary during winter months.

Cover your compost to prevent the soil from freezing.

During wet periods, try to cover your containers to stop them becoming water logged and the compost becoming sodden. 

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