GROWING VEGETABLES IN CONTAINERS
I am new to growing vegetables in containers, this is my second year. Here in Wisconsin the growing season is about 4-5 months. I decided to try and extend a bit so I can maybe harvest tomatoes and cucumbers into October.
I purchased three small dollies at our local Farm & Fleet, holds up to 500 lbs. at $15.00 each. At Walmart I bought three large blue tubs with nylon rope handles and drilled holes in the bottom for drainage. I put landscape fabric on the bottom over the drainage holes. These will be my containers for one super sweet cherry tomato, one super beefsteak tomato and one bush cucumber.
Last year I used equal parts compost, peat moss and perlite. This mix WAS NOT FERTILE ENOUGH. During the winter I did a little research on organic mixtures to add to the soil. This is what I decided to use in my pots.
Equal parts: Topsoil, compost, perlite and peatmoss. I sprinkled in a couple of cups of worm castings in each pot.
- 1 cup cottonseed meal
- ½ cup bone meal
- ½ cup kelp meal
- 1 tablespoon garden lime
I sprinkled the organic fertilizer into the entire soil mix of EACH POT. Placed the pot on the dolly. Planted my vegetables in the pots and spread straw on top of the soil to help hold the moisture in. Last year I didn’t use straw and my pots dried out way too fast, which stressed the plants. I find one of the hardest things in container gardening is not over or under watering the plants. Now I make sure I use the FINGER IN THE DIRT (a couple inches down) technique.
It was the first week in April and COLD. I decided to make a MINI GREENHOUSE to cover my young tomatoes and cucumber. I took a small tomato cage and covered it with clear plastic, placed it over the plant and inserted it into the soil. Now on days that it was cold, my plants were toasty warm. I made sure if it was above 50 and sunny, I took off the cage. You don’t want to BAKE THE VEGGIES.
Next I made the cages for these LARGE POTS to support the veggies during the growing HUGE stage. I used concrete reinforcement wire. Made them slightly smaller round than the pot and about 4 ½ feet high. Not too tall because the pots are going to be wheeled into the garage on cold nights and have to clear the garage door. I used wire coat hangers to make LONG HAIRPINS to anchor the wire cages into the soil.
Now my vegetables can be warm and cozy on cold nights SLEEPING IN MY GARAGE. This is my experiment to see if I can extend the harvest of my tomatoes and cucumbers. Being on dollies makes it easy to roll them to a sunny location on my driveway. I will keep you posted on how this works. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
This method of gardening in large containers is excellent for people who don’t have a yard. You can fit containers on driveways, sidewalks, patios and decks. Give this a try and HAPPY GARDENING!