Vegetables

A fun and easy way to have a vegetable garden | Valley Life

You may need an in-ground garden for your melons, squash and corn, but most of the other vegetables can be grown by planting them in a container. Placing the container on your patio makes it convenient to harvest and care for your garden.

A container garden has a lot of benefits. You can move your container garden to a sunny location or a shader location during the summer. In an oak barrel or large clay pot, plant one tomato, a few lettuce and carrots or other small vegetables and you have an instant salad garden. The container can be placed on the patio or in a planter. Instead of walking a long way to your in-ground garden, just reach out the door for your favorite vegetable in your container garden. Better yet, it makes a great children’s garden, or even better yet, have one for each child in the garden.

I have used 15-gallon containers in which nurseries sell trees. One 15-gallon container works for one small patio tomato or peppers. Or you can fill it with carrots, lettuce or other greens. Be creative with your containers. The tomatoes and peppers need full sun, where the lettuce and carrots will do better in a light shade.

Many people use half oak barrels, but other containers are available. Examples of creative gardening containers include a wheelbarrow, unused water fountain, a child’s old red wagon, a hollowed-out log, an old wrought iron pot, a china urn or even an old watering can. These are just a few ideas you could use or come up with some of your own creative garden ideas.

A wheelbarrow may work even better than an oak barrel. Find yourself a deep wheelbarrow, then drill a few holes in the bottom. Fill the wheelbarrow with potting soil and plant your vegetables. The wheelbarrow allows you to move your container garden anytime you like. If you keep it on the patio, it can be easily moved out of the way when you need the space. Or you can move your garden according to the amount of sun your garden needs.

The last few years, I have been gardening in 30-gallon containers. They are about 20 inches in diameter and tall, much bigger than 15-gallon containers. I grow large full-size tomatoes in the containers.

Another fun gardening activity is to grow potatoes in a large trash bag. Poke a few small holes in the bottom of a trash or garbage bag. Fill the trash bag about five inches deep with potting soil. Place seed potatoes or sprouting potatoes that you bought from the grocery store in the trash bag, and cover the potatoes with another five inches of potting soil.

After the potato starts to grow and is about one foot tall, fill the trash bag with about six inches of dry straw. Be sure to water and fertilize your mini-garden. Reach into the straw and soil and feel your potatoes growing. When the potatoes are ready for harvest, just cut open your bag.

About the only disadvantages to container gardening is water and fertilizer management. Once you confine the amount of soil, it is easier to overwater or underwater your container garden.

It is always easier to manage the water in soil than in containers. In the soil, excess water can be pulled away from the roots by drier areas of soil. In a container, extra water must either evaporate or be used by the plants. This means the soil is normally wetter for a long period of time, leading to root rots.

You need to physically check your soil to see if it needs water. The best device is your finger. Stick your finger down into the soil about an inch. If the soil is still moist, you do not need to water.

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