If you reside in an apartment or town home, you probably think you do not have sufficient space to grow vegetables. Lack of space is no longer an excuse since many modern vegetable varieties are great for growing in containers on a sunny window ledge or patio. It’s possible to grow salad vegetables and herbs in just about any sunny spot and enjoy fresh ingredients throughout the year. Snipping off a sprig of fresh herbs in the window ledge garden in the kitchen when you’re cooking can’t be bettered.
Choice of container
The simplest choice is to visit the local garden center or home improvement store and choose any gardening container that takes your fancy. There’s a wide array available in vinyl, ceramic, clay or wood. Before you pull out your credit card, however, have a look around your house and see whatever containers you have lying about. Almost anything that will hold soil may be used for growing, while it’s an old bucket, an empty margarine container or an empty coffee can.
Any container you use should have enough drainage holes at the bottom. Make extra holes in containers that don’t drain quickly after watering. Waterlogged soil will result in soil-borne ailments and stunted plants. Stand the containers in a tray if those are inside.
Using regular soil isn’t a good idea for container plants, because soil is very likely to have plant disease organisms and weed seeds. Soil less potting mixes are milder, less likely to compact and maintain moisture and plant nutrients well. These potting mixes can be purchased from any garden centre.
Choice of plants
Almost any herb is acceptable for a container vegetable garden. Basilikum, thyme, mint, parsley, chives and oregano are all great choices. Most salads can also be grown in containers. Consider lettuce, young salad carrots, radishes, and green onions, for smaller containers. Tomatoes, eggplant and peppers succeed in a bigger container on a sunny balcony or patio. Choose dwarf types where these are available.
Seeds can be implanted either directly into the container or started in a smaller pot and transplanted once big enough to handle. Always plant more seeds than you need in each container because there’ll seldom be 100 percent germination. During the winter, seeds can be encouraged to grow early when put beside a water heater or other warm (not hot) place. Make certain that you move these to a sunny position whenever they appear above the soil.
Ideally, containers must be placed where they receive at least 6 hours of sun daily. Plants that bear fruit, like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants need the sunlight. Many herbs and leafy vegetables will tolerate more shade. Plants growing in containers need frequent watering especially if outside. During the hot summer months many will require daily watering.
Harvest once the plants are older but still young and tender. Small sprigs of most herbs can be clipped as necessary and the plant will continue to grow.