Organic Container Gardening!

Perhaps you do not have the room for a big garden in the ground. You may live in an apartment and only have a balcony. This would mean you need to grow your garden in containers. This is entirely possible and what is even better, is that you can grow an organic garden in containers. Most vegetables and flowers both do well in containers and you can keep your garden organic.

The only big difference in organic gardening and growing in containers organically is that you have to water your crops more often. Because the container is above ground, the moisture tends to dry out easily because of condensation from the sun’s rays or because of wind. Nearly everything is the same in organic gardening in the ground as it is in containers.

Plant Requirements.

plant requirements

All vegetables, grown in ground or in containers, need at least 6 hours of sun per day, so be sure to locate your container garden where it will get the most sun. They also need well-drained fertile soil in which to grow.

The container must drain well and the plant must be given enough water. Because the roots tend to grow a little shorter in containers, your vegetables and flowers may need to be fertilized more often because it is hard for them to retain good nutrition. That is not a real problem though. You just make organic liquid fertilizers and apply them more frequently than you would if the plant was in the ground.

Containers.

Containers for any container garden have requirements that are necessary to keep the plants in them healthy. Containers should be big enough to hold roots. If you are planting peppers in a container, you will need a regular sized flower pot in which to plant seeds or plants. If you are planting carrots, you need to be sure that the pot is tall enough to accommodate the root that is the carrot.

If the carrots are supposed to get 12 inches long, you need a pot that is a bit taller at about 14 inches long.

Containers need to have drainage holes. Roots do not like to be swimming in moisture and any excess needs to be able to come out the bottom of the container. If the container chosen does not have drainage holes, make some with a drill or nail. That might be a little bit difficult if the container is ceramic or other breakable materials.

Opt for another type of container that has holes or that can be drilled safely. You can further enhance drainage by placing 1 inch of natural colored aquarium stone or gravel at the bottom of your containers before you put the soil in. Place a square of coffee filter over the holes if you are afraid the gravel will fall out. This still lets the water drain and the stones stay in.

containers

 

Use any kind of container like clay pots, pails, bushel baskets, old wash tubs, wooden planters, plastic buckets, or any other large container. Some organic gardeners do not use plastic containers. There is some controversy over whether the chemicals used to make the plastic stay in and leach into the vegetables planted in the container.

There is no real proof that it does, but if you would rather be safe, opt for another type of material in a pot. Use hanging baskets for vegetables that would normally crawl up a trellis. This would include strawberries, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

Soil.

In order to keep moisture in the pot rather than drying out in the sun or wind, it is suggested that perlite be added to the soil to help it retain moisture. Perlite is volcanic matter and it is heated at astronomically high temperatures that make it expand when it gets wet. It retains water and slowly releases it into the soil.

vermiculite

Vermiculite is another moisture retentive additive that works well. Use a loose, sterile soil and never dig soil out of your garden and put it in a container. Any worms will not be able to survive if they can’t get through the drain holes.

Worms and other soil creatures aerate the soil and since they do not live in containers, the soil will get very compacted if you use garden soil. Potting soil is made to be light and loose and is more appropriate in containers. You can get soil with compost and other organic matter all ready included in the mix, but if you can’t find that type of bagged soil, add your own compost (you can get that in bags and not have to have a compost pile)to the container.

Fertilization.

Plants in containers need fertilization. Where else are they going to get the nutrients needed to grow. Use an organic, liquid fertilizer on container plants about once a month. Avoid over fertilization because it is hard for the plant to get rid of excess nutrients in a pot.

What to Grow.

Almost any vegetable and herb can grow in an organic container. Some of the more common ones are tomatoes, peppers, beans, lettuce, radishes, carrots, beets, parsley, basil, green onions, summer squash and broccoli. Try to stick to compact size vegetables or those that are bush varieties. Instead of pole beans opt for bush beans.

cucumber

You should also avoid vegetables that are too big to grow in a container and that would include corn. You can grow squash, cucumber and zucchini by growing them in a lower container and letting them vine all over the porch or balcony. You can even install a trellis and tie the vines to grow up.

Pests are more easily contained in a container garden. You can spot them and pick them off quickly before they do damage. You can also identify disease quicker and deal with it when your plants are growing in containers. Companion planting is still possible by placing the pots of the companion plants near each other. Place tomatoes, peppers and basil in one area because the basil will keep insects that attach the vegetables away.

Getting too old to bend down and garden in ground or moving to an apartment? Do not despair, you can still do organic gardening to a degree in containers.