Container gardening is so much easier to do than traditional gardening, and is perfect for anyone to do. It’s particularly helpful for seniors and those with limited mobility. Although we have an acreage in the country, we have been growing all of our annual vegetables in containers for several years. It was a full time job just trying to keep up with the weeding previously, and then when I was diagnosed with lung disease, it was impossible for me to continue with traditional gardening.
For kids being home schooled, gardening is an awesome way to incorporate botany in a fun way. This site looks to have some wonderful free printables, and some you might need to be a subscriber. Our local Master Gardeners teach a lot of this information in schools, scouting groups and our annual summer Children’s Gardening Workshop.
The photo above was just one section of my containers from my Week 9 post: Day Lilies & Hot Peppers in front of the fence, cucumbers on the back side of the green shed, tomatoes on the side facing the hot peppers.
A couple of years ago, I did a summer long series on container gardening. I explained how to set up and fill planting containers in Container Gardening Week 1. If you are wanting to garden in containers this year, here is a wonderful chart of what size containers plants need. Larger containers work best, because they don’t need to be watered as frequently. The square foot garden spacing guidelines are ideal for container gardening, too.
Two other important points about container gardening are to make sure the plants will receive the required sunlight and the containers are reasonably close to a water source.
I wrote about making a garden planner here. It is a huge help with keeping me on track with garden chores and planting dates.
Planting Guide for Zone 6B
This handy Garden Planting dates for Zone 6B chart tells when to plant seeds and transplants. Look for the Cooperative Extension for your County or State to find your local guide.
Look on seed packets for specific days to maturity and choose the faster growing varieties. Also check for best soil temperatures for seed starting, generally over 50°F (10°C). I usually start seeds indoors. From the list below, I usually buy 4 or 6 packs of broccoli, cabbage & cauliflower. This year I also bought romaine lettuce plants. The rest is planted by seeds.
Any root crops we grow, such as carrots, garlic, onions, radishes are generally grown around the perimeter of the larger pots.
We’ve only grown potatoes in 5 gallon buckets to have some fresh ones once in awhile, because they don’t produce much or get much size grown in containers. I’m trying a different container method for potatoes this year. If they do any good, I’ll report back later.
It’s a little late, but you could still get a couple of smaller sweet potatoes at the grocery store and set them up to start growing slips. they don’t get planted until the end of May in this region. This would be another fun project for kids.
- Beets – 40-70 days. Harvest some of the leaves for salads while the roots are growing. High yielding.
- Broccoli – 40-60 days. I’ve heard the leaves are edible, too.
- Cabbage – I found a 45 day variety from transplants
- Kale – 30-65 days.
- Leaf lettuce – 40-60 days.
- Mesclun Greens – 30-45 days. This is a nice salad green mix.
- Mustard Greens – 21-45 days
- Green Onion – 40-50 days
- Peas – 50-60 days. Sugar snap peas are delicious raw, in salads, steamed & in stirfrys.
- Radishes – 21-30 days. Leaves are good in salads.
- Spinach – 30-55 days
- Swiss Chard – 30-60 days
- Turnips – 35-50 days. Can eat both the leaves & roots.
Who knows what the weather is going to do, so be prepared to cover plants if it’s predicted to go below 40°F with a sheet or garden blanket.
Best Producing Vegetables for Containers
Seeds are definitely a cheaper way to start your garden, however planting transplants produces so much quicker. For the earliest harvest, seeds for summer vegetables can be started indoors during March and April. Find a planting guide for your growing zone.
These are my favorite transplants to buy because they are high yielding vegetables with the least amount of plants, plus they can be used in a number of ways to make tasty meals.
- Pole beans (start from seeds)
- Summer squash
- Tomatoes (med. size tomatoes & cherry tomatoes) – technically a fruit
Cucumbers, tomatoes & pole beans are perfect even for a small garden, because they can easily grow vertically.
Summer squash plants (crookneck, zucchini & scalloped) all look pretty enough to grow as landscape plants, too.
Best Producing Fruits for Containers
I grow the following every year in containers.
The cantaloupe and watermelon seed links above are the sources I have used to purchase my seeds in the past.
I put 2 – 3 strawberry plants in each 1 gallon pot. For each large container (about 25 gallons) with a 4′ tall cage, I plant about 10 -12 of either the mini cantaloupe or the watermelon around the perimeter.
If you plant the cantaloupe seeds listed above, they are heirloom seeds, which means they will grow true to seed every year, unlike hybrid seeds. So be sure to save the seeds for next year.
If you do have room for a little in-ground gardening, now is a good time to also plant asparasgus crowns and thornless blackberry canes.