Farmer Marketing

Simple, inventive ways to increase the value of farm fresh products through direct marketing, internet marketing, and creativity.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Container Gardens – Small and Easy

The past 100 years have seen a drastic change in the way people live and how they work. Gone are the days where most people lived on farms and everyone had a backyard garden. Today a majority of people live in cookie-cutter tract homes with microscopic yards (if they have a yard at all.) Do you live in one of these situations where you just don’t have the space for a garden? Maybe you don’t feel like you have the time. No matter what your situation this post can help you enjoy home-grown fresh produce.

What is a container garden?

Simply put, a container garden involves growing vegetables in a pot, barrel, or other above-ground container. Hanging baskets, whiskey barrels, terra cotta pots, old water troughs or last year’s flower pots all can be turned into beautiful miniature vegetable beds.

Benefits of Container Gardens

The first and most obvious benefit is the space you save. If you don’t have room for a traditional garden in the ground you can simply put a few containers along the fence or on the back patio to grow delicious veggies yourself. Second, container gardens are much easier to maintain. You likely started with a weed-free potting soil, so gone are the countless hours of weeding. Also, watering involves less time because it’s as simple as watering your house plants. Lastly, containers are mobile. If you live in a temperate climate where there’s a couple of frosty nights in the early fall, but the weather is pretty good for another month, all you have to do is pull the containers into the garage and keep your luscious plants alive for weeks longer than your neighbor’s garden.

Caring for Container Gardens

Since you’re putting your garden in a container your plants will be pulling both water and nutrients from a much smaller area. This brings up two major points to follow for container gardening success. First, when the weather gets really hot and your plants are really putting out the fruit you will need to ensure they get enough water. This may mean watering more than once a day. Can’t be there multiple times each day? Consider a drip irrigation system like this. Second, you need to keep the fertilize coming regularly. For tomatoes that are setting fruit this means weekly. For mixed pots I recommend a time release fertilizer such as Osmocote (you’ll find this type of fertilizer at any good nursery.)

Don’t forget that most veggies (peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, etc.) need lots of sunlight, so south and west facing exposures are your best bet for lighting. If you’re going to use a hanging basket, make sure it hangs low enough to get sunlight and that your hook is sturdy enough to handle the plant, fruit, and all the water your soil can hold. For a tomato hanging basket this can very realistically be over 15 lbs.

Best Wishes

I’ve written often about the benefits of locally grown produce and it doesn’t get more local than your own garden. I wish you luck with your gardens and please feel free to email me if you have any questions as you start your container gardens this year. Send emails to farmermarketing “at”