Get growing with container gardens
The pandemic brought a renewed interest in home gardening. Container gardens are a great option for beginners, families with young kids, and those with limited mobility to grow their own veggies.
Nearly any type of container will work—colorful ceramic pots, wood barrels, and plastic window boxes are popular. Size matters: Find one large enough that plants won’t dry out between watering times, which also cuts down on maintenance. Remember that the container needs to accommodate plant roots when fully grown. You’ll need at least a five-gallon container for planting tomatoes, peppers, and beans, and minimum three-gallon size for carrots and lettuce.
Drainage is also key, so check each container for drainage holes or drill several holes in the bottom. Otherwise the soil stays waterlogged, not enough oxygen gets to the roots, and your vegetables or herbs won’t grow as well.
Potting soil or soilless mixes (which are much lighter) are both good options, but experts stress not to use “native soil” such as dirt from your yard. Colorado soil has a high percentage of clay that packs down and reduces the amount of oxygen getting to the roots.
Vegetables suitable for containers include beets, beans, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, green onions, lettuce, collards, bok choy, spinach, kale, tomatoes, peppers, and radishes. Varieties with names like “bush,” “patio,” or “compact” require minimal space as well.
Container plants need plenty of fertilizer throughout the growing season to keep up with rapid growth and drainage. Mix controlled-release fertilizer granules into the soil mix at planting. Then use soluble fertilizers when watering. Follow product directions for concentrations and timing depending on the type of plant.
Container gardens do require more watering than landscape gardens—spread the work around to different family members.
Follow instructions on the plant label for the amount of sunlight needed when placing containers, and shift locations as necessary.
Spring is the perfect time to get your hands dirty… and you’ll reap some tasty rewards!
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