Small space gardening is ideal for back porches or balconies if you’re an apartment dweller or don’t have a large garden. Rather than getting over-ambitious, why not begin by growing a garden salad? You’ll enjoy fresh veggies all summer, on the cheap.
If you have kids, this is a marvellous quality time project. Lots of teachable moments will naturally crop up, so it’s perfect for home education. No need to nag – eat your veggies either! Just show them how nothing tastes better than a fresh tomato, straight from the container pot.
Gather Your Containers
Have fun choosing vessels for your salad garden. For adequate drainage, all your containers must have holes in them. Plastic containers are budget friendly. Ceramic pots come in assorted shapes and sizes. Zinc is the new galvanized steel. With their interesting shapes and metallic colors, zinc pots put the Wow factor in your little salad garden.
Basically, you don’t need huge containers, since salad veggies don’t grow long roots. Tomato plants do call for large pots.
Get High-Quality Potting Soil
Soil from your backyard is not rich in nutrients that your veggie plants require to flourish. Don’t set your salad garden up to fail. Give your plant babies high-quality potting soil, so they will grow and thrive.
Consider organic potting mix, which is soil-less. “What?” you say. Yes, soil-less potting mixes do exist and are your best option for container gardening. Generally, these organic potting mixes consist of sphagnum peat. Organic mixes already contain fertilizer, in the form of compost, which releases nutrients slowly.
BioBizz – All-Mix BioBizz All-mix is a 100% organic soil mix for the all-natural cultivation of plants. All-mix contains 35% garden peat base, 30% perlite and 20% sphagnum peat moss for water retention and excellent texture, 10% high-quality organic worm humus rich in macro and micronutrients and finally 5% BioBizz Pre-Mix which is a very high-quality organic fertiliser.
What To Grow
Either start with seeds or obtain plants from your local nursery. First, decide what type of salad veggies you want to grow. For example baby spinach, kale, butter lettuce, cherry or grape tomatoes, etc.
Lettuce is a quick-grow. It requires minimal space, making lettuce ideal for container gardening. Just follow directions on seed packet for planting lettuce seeds. Lettuce loves sun, so put your container in a spot that gets plenty of sunlight. They also require moisture until the seeds emerge as little plants.
Tomatoes, who doesn’t love’em? But upside-down tomatoes? Formerly a trend, now a popular growing method, especially for container gardeners. No need to stake’em. Just hang the container and watch them grow.
Pri Gardens Upside Down Tomato Planter, (2- Pack) Hooks Included (Requires Fertilizer, not Included).
If upside-down gardening doesn’t appeal to you, get starter tomato plants at your local nursery. Consider small-fruited plants, such as “Tiny Tim” or “Patio.” Fix up a trellis; tomatoes are happiest when they can climb.
Tomatoes are forgiving. Even if you sometimes forget to water them, they’ll keep right on growing.
Spinach is a nutritious ingredient for your summer salad. Either sow seeds, per package instructions or get seedlings at your local nursery. Because it’s such an easy-grow, experts recommend that every beginning gardener starts with spinach. Your little seedlings take about a month’s growing time to mature.
Depending upon your level of ambition, you can try other easy-grow veggies, such as carrots, radishes, cucumbers, and peppers.
A large variety of seed can be ordered online and delivered to your door by Suttons.
To Water or Not?
Your container garden needs to be watered more often than a conventional garden. Poke your finger into each container daily. The idea is to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. When the soil feels dry, water it. Tomatoes require more water than other plants.
During the summer heat, you may need to water tomatoes two times a day.
Generally, veggies need a minimum of six hours sunshine daily. Don’t guesstimate. Monitor exactly how long full sunshine is on the area where you plan to place your little container garden.
Maintaining Right Temperatures
If it frequently gets hot enough to fry eggs on the path where you live, provide shade for your plants. Avoid dark-coloured containers, as they tend to overheat and broil the roots of your plants.
Alternatively, when growing container plants in cooler climates, start them indoors. Wait until temperatures warm-up to move them outdoors.
If you opted to use potting soil, rather than going with the organic soil-less (above), you need to use a good quality fertilizer. Due to regularly watering your container garden, nutrients are unavoidably leached from the soil. So that you will need to give your plants a healthy dose of fertilizer every two weeks. Go to once weekly during the heat of summer.
Organic fish fertilizer is a high-quality fertilizer, your plant babies will love it. You, on the other hand, might apply a clothespin to your nose, as it reeks like a roomful of dirty socks.
GS Plant Foods Organic Hydrolyzed Liquid Fish Fertilizer 32 oz.
Never apply fertilizer to dry plants. Water well. Wait about an hour and water again, this time with fish emulsion and water.
Reap the Harvest
Container gardening is a real-life example of reaping what you sow. No doubt, the best salad you have eaten, ever will eat, is that first salad you create with fresh veggies from your very own container garden.