Grow More in Less Space

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You can have all the garden vegetables you want in half the space. Follow these tips for a cheap and easy container garden.

  • Consider container size. A container should generally be at least two-thirds as deep as the full-grown plant is tall and at least as wide as the leaf spread.
  • Pick the right plants. Stick with vegetables that take up little space, like carrots, radishes, and lettuce. Even better, plant crops that bear fruit over a long period of time, such as tomatoes and peppers.
  • Don’t go too small. Some gardening experts warn against dwarf or miniature varieties, saying they don’t tend to produce as well as standard varieties.
  • Look at lighting. The amount of sunlight you get may determine what you can plant. Root crops and leaf crops can usually tolerate partial shade. Fruiting vegetables need at least five hours, preferably eight to 10 hours, of full, direct sun each day.
  • Ditch bad dirt. Don’t fill plant pots with dirt from your yard. Sure, it’s free, but most yard dirt is too heavy, coarse, and infertile for potted plant growth. It also tends to pack down in containers, choking the roots.
  • Invest in potting soil. It’s lightweight and free of insects, diseases, and weed seeds. Avoid soilless mixes such as peat-lite, however. They contain few nutrients and are so lightweight they may not give enough support to plant roots.
  • Double up. Grow different vegetables together in one container to make the most of limited space. Plant lettuce, spinach, and herbs between tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage. Use tall, trellised plants like cucumbers to shade cool-weather greens underneath.
  • Make adjustments. Don’t let shade end your gardening dreams. Boost the light your vegetables receive by placing reflective materials around them. Lay out sheets of aluminum foil or paint surrounding surfaces white.
  • Fight wilting. Punishing heat can dry soil fast. If your plants wilt every day, consider grouping the containers together so the foliage creates shade to cool the soil. Also, put pots on pallets or other structures to get them off a hot concrete patio.

 

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  • FC&A Staff Writer