Are you tired of paying $4.00 a pound for a hard tomato that has no flavor? Do you suspect it was picked months ago, kept in cold storage and fed some kind of gas to keep it from ripening? Wouldn’t you love to grow your own?
Many people want to grow their own food, but they hesitate. They are nervous, and indeed, there is a lot to learn, but the rewards are profound! There is nothing like taking that first bite of a sun-kissed tomato or an ear of corn just plucked.
But for now, you are in the produce aisle looking at half-green hockey pucks labeled “hot house tomatoes”. You have a faint memory of something called “flavor”! With a sigh, you wish for a garden like Grandma had “way back when”.
“Crud,” you think, your reverie shattered. “I live in an apartment. I can’t grow anything but old in an apartment.”
Be of good cheer! Container gardening is the perfect solution to your woes!
Four years ago, I started to feel the urge to become more self-sufficient, to grow my own food! PANIC! It was overwhelming to think about cutting down trees. ripping out lawn, tilling the soil, planting, fertilizing, watering, fighting bugs and diseases. Yet, I was determined to fend for myself, so I decided to start small, one plant at a time, in manageable containers. I had a lot of questions.
What plants did I want to grow? Easy Tomatoes, potatoes, peas and peppers, to start.
What kind of container should I use? Hmm. That took some research. Different plants require different amounts of soil, sunlight, water, and food. It took a while, but I figured out some basics and planted my first crop, sweet peas, in 25 one-gallon plastic coffee containers that I got on FreeCycle. I have also used plastic totes, dollar store trash cans, five gallon buckets, clay pots, and Slurpee cups! Once you know how much dirt your chosen plants need, let your imagination run wild! Just be sure your container has drainage holes (the voice of experience).
Can I just use the dirt from my yard? Sure, but it’s probably going to need some help. I started a compost pile, but it wasn’t ready. So, I bought a couple of bags of composted soil at the garden center and mixed it 50-50 with my yard dirt, which was mostly clay. It worked!
Do I need fertilizer? Again…research. Each plant has different requirements. It is a very good idea to follow those recommendations. Unless you like peas with empty pods or squash that are all leaf and no fruit! Container-raised plants have very little soil from which to draw nutrients, so it is important to feed them well!
Sunshine? Many containers are quite easily moved from place-to-place, to catch the best sun! Larger containers can be put on wheels, or moved with a dolly.
Bugs? One of the great things about container gardening is that you generally have fewer critters, and an easier time with pest control if they do show up!
Watering? Containers do need more frequent watering than in-ground plantings, as there is so little dirt to hold it in!
If you want to grow your own food, container gardening is an excellent first step. There is a lot of trial and error, but there is an enormous amount of information on the internet, and yours truly would be honored to answer any questions! It’s not too late…give it a try!