Planting Vegetables in Containers

by Calamity Jane on June 4, 2013

Well folks, I’m wiped.  We finally got a sunny weekend this past weekend, although it was still mucky and damp and chilly in parts. It was enough, enough that I could get out and push the last of the plantings into the ground. (Now, I say last, but really I just mean the last of the spring plantings, there are summer/fall plantings that will happen soon enough.) Thanks to week after week of rainy cold pushing the planting schedule back, this also happened to be the weekend I was gearing up for a 5 day startup for a large project at my 9-5. This is one of those things I try to never let happen; thanks so much Mother Nature.

So, I put in 50 hours in the cube-farm, and then I planted most of our beans and tomatoes and peppers. I am still flooded out of a good chunk of my growing ground, it’s very low lying and I went out this weekend and it looked more like a creek than a garden. I am holding back a fraction of my seedlings, and hoping they’ll survive another week or so inside, and I’ll try to plant them outside when that section of ground dries.  My back up plan here is to plant seeds there, something quick, like a summer squash or bush bean.  That way if the stupid plot takes another 2 or 3 weeks to dry out, I’ve still got something ready to go that will grow well and not be too stressed by the summer heat. If I lose a few seedling to the gambit, that’s ok, most got planted out.

This is how you have to think, I’ve found, when you really care about getting a lot food out of a garden. It’s not just an square foot of dirt, it has specific drainage patterns (and issues), with specific hours of sunlight and percent of shade. It doesn’t just get planted on Memorial day and harvested on Labor day. I have to weave plantings in and out as much as I can, if one harvests early, I should have something that can fill the gap left until winter kills. I let some volunteer lettuce grow in the tomato bed this spring, and I planted my tomato plants around the lettuce as much as possible. I know the lettuce will be done by the time the tomatoes come into blossom and fruit, and until that time, they can happily cohabitate and the lettuce can help shade out other weeds. Conainers

Anyway, I got rambly there, sorry. I was going to ask for suggestions, I still need to plant most of my containers. I’ve grown the usual assortment of lettuce and eggplants and cherry tomatoes in the pots. But, I have tons of volunteer lettuce, and my family won’t eat eggplant, so I need suggestions for something new to try. I have one big blue pot that has 2 feet of root space, and two medium pots that are maybe 18″ high, and then a smattering of smaller ones.

I’m way to busy to think  of something creative and nutritious, so y’all really need to make me proud here. Hit the comment button, and tell me what you think I should plant. The only thing in them at all is one healthy chive plant. If I like your suggestion, I’ll order the seeds, and get you a pack too.

- Calamity Jane

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike the Gardener June 4, 2013

I have some tomatoes and zucchini in 5 gallon buckets this year (drilled drainage holes in the bottom). So far both seem to be doing well.

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Charles,,,, June 4, 2013

Pot’s, containers and raised bed’s, all good ways to control weed’s better…. if I have a perrinial in a pot I’l cut the bottom out and plant it a quarter of the way so the roots will take hold, keep’s the weed whacker from an oop’s, larger containers draw the chickens attention and they’ll get into them and scratch half the pot out knowing I hid something inside, so I have to use hardware cloth cut out on top,,,, containers in the south seem to need more watering so I place some in 3.5 gal. buckets or fit to size with other containers to keep an added amount of water in the event I miss a watering, got to be aware of mosquito larva, but periodically I’ll take the plant out and poor the water onto the plant which catches the larva and egg’s and dries them out, not a problem.
Potted plant’s should grow the exotic’s, firey hot peppers, which only takes a tad amount to spice up a dish versus a bunch of cayenne’s or such, something on a stalk so you eliminate the fuss of trellising, that odd herb one doesn’t use alot, cilantro or peppercorn’s… just one man’s thought.

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David June 4, 2013

Wife and I tried container gardening last year. We did tomatoes, Eggplants (which you already vetoed) and cucumber. The variety was “Pickle Bush”. Being a cucumber, it’s obviously still a vine, we build a bit of a make shift trellis and also allowed it to climb the deck railings. This was the first time in my life (grew up farm boy) that I had ever had cucumbers grown vertically. It worked really well. Cucumbers WILL need frequent and copious amounts of water though in a container.
We also did the green bell pepper and jalapeno thing too.

Good luck.

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JL June 4, 2013

Basil grow awesome in pots, you can put strawberries in pots also and raise the pot. We also have and orange tree, we keep it in the house in the winter but have gotten 3 oranges off a small tree. Rosemary and bay also grows extremely well in pots.

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Michelle June 4, 2013

Beets grow well in containers if you give them a few inches of space in between so the roots will develop. As they grow, you can pick some of the young leafy greens to add to salads. I like to juice beets with a little apple and ginger. Cooked, they are awesome with some feta cheese, walnuts, and a little cinnamon.

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JAS June 4, 2013

The best luck we ever had growing bell peppers was in large pots or tubs. We put a mixture of potting soil and compost into those large galvanized watering tubs and plant 5 ot 6 pepper plants in each. They grow like crazy. We could never get any peppers in the garden and just happened to try this one year.

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Michael June 4, 2013

Thought I’d pass this one along…

http://www.nationofchange.org/russians-prove-small-scale-organic-can-feed-world-1369923601

On a total of about 20 million acres managed by over 35 million Russian families, Russians are carrying on an old-world technique, which we Americans might learn from. They are growing their own organic crops – and it’s working.

According to some statistics, they grow 92% of the entire countries’ potatoes, 77% of its vegetables, 87% of its fruit, and feed 71% of the entire population from privately owned, organic farms or house gardens all across the country. These aren’t huge Agro-farms run by pharmaceutical companies; these are small family farms and less-than-an-acre gardens.

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Pineslayer June 5, 2013

Well Jane wish I had an answer, but I have the same question. I have accumulated a bunch of containers with the idea of putting them on pallets to jack in and out of the garage to extend my season, that is a good 2 months long :) I’m going with whatever the girls will eat and see what works or what i won’t kill. Maybe carrots.

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Jylian June 5, 2013

I have potato’s growing in a 5 gal pot- I live in a small apt so I can only grow in pots on my patio- I have strawberrys – radishs – green beens- pickles-carrots- some cat nip (guess if you get sick it can help) all kinds of herbs that has some other use like aloe and lavender. I wanted to make sure that if SHTF I had some back up- this is year one. I have yet to dry leaves and really find out how it works but figure its worth a shot.

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izzy June 6, 2013

Carrots! SWEET short fat carrots that your kids will love. Also sugar snap peas that they can snack off the vine. (note that these can take up different parts of the container along with the cherry tomato).

Try the “small” version of any variety – about the only trouble I’ve had is is big vines like squash, beans, indeterminate tomatoes.. but there are exceptions, like “Small Wonder” spaghetti squash. I also like mint in a container of its own, so it doesn’t take over – but the chives have been great for hiding the good stuff from insects.

It’s true, plants like containers since there’s often less weeds, fewer bugs, and more water. I can also control the soil quality/pH better (using “potting soil”, and lots of vermiculite etc to lighten the weight.)

Jane, you’ve called attention to the weather extremes, volcanoes & how those can all affect food production… I love that I can always move the containers indoors in summer too! Climate control!!!

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