How to Grow Food in Containers
Do you want to know how to grow food in small spaces? Growing organic food in containers is one of the most rewarding pastimes and I’ve grown my own produce for years and have had plenty of successes (and failures!) but the one thing that always inspires me is how incredible nature is. Seeds want to germinate and plants want to flourish.
There are still lots of crops that can be sown in June and placed on the patio, a small yard or a balcony. Okay, tomatoes and sweet (bell) peppers wouldn’t ripen in time if sown now, but plants can be bought from garden centres.
This year, I bought most of my seeds from The Real Seed Catalogue. All their seeds are heirloom or heritage, which means there are no F1hybrid or GMO seeds. If you read this website selling seeds for container growing, you’ll see why! There are companies worldwide similar to this if you Google heirloom seeds.
What do I need to start growing in containers?
Here’s a quick list of bits and bobs to get you started:-
• Seeds (see below)
• Plants – if you want to grow tomatoes, peppers or chillies
• Bags of organic multi-purpose compost
• Plant labels
• Strong bamboo canes or sticks – at least 6’/180cm long for growing beans, tomatoes and cucumbers
• Shorter canes for peas
• Garden twine or string
• Pots – I’m a firm believer in using recycled materials so old dustbins (with holes drilled in the base) are great for tall plants such as beans or deep rooted plants such as raspberries.
Wide, shallow pots or troughs are ideal for salads.
Use 12”/30cm (or 5 gallon/22 litre pots) for peas, cucumbers, courgettes, tomatoes and peppers.
8”/20cm pots for herbs.
4”/10cm pots for sowing courgettes and cucumbers.
• Some newspapers
• If you want to grow courgettes, cucumbers, beans or peas, then a couple of bags of well-rotted manure or leaf mould will really help.
What Seeds to Sow in June (including my favourites)
You may only want to grow one or two crops to start with…
Salads – Green and red cut-and-come-again (non-hearting) lettuces are so easy and grow well in pots over a long period. I’m growing Salad Bowl and Morton’s Secret Mix. Spinach and Rocket are great too.
Sugarsnap peas – Sugar Ann is fab and will produce delicious, bumper crops. When my youngest daughter was a tot, she used to “help” me with the sugarsnaps – they are so delicious eaten raw that not many even made it to the kitchen!
Runner and French beans – Cherokee Trail of Tears is a climbing French bean and The Czar runner bean is prolific and can be eaten as green beans or grown on to use as butter beans.
Courgettes (zucchini) are a doddle and I’m growing Striato Di Napoli which crop early and produce lots of fruit.
Cucumbers – Wautoma is early, disease resistant, productive and delicious.
Plants to Consider Sowing in Containers:-
Strawberries – Albion and Aromel are sweet and juicy and will crop for months. I grow them in plastic strawberry bags, and stack them to create a tower.
Raspberries – Joan J produce large raspberries for weeks on end, and have no thorns.
Tomatoes – Gardeners Delight is a very popular cherry tomato. I’m growing an Irish version, plus some yellow cherry tomatoes.
Red Peppers Lipstick is my choice this year as it’s early and suited to the very unpredictable weather in the UK. Whichever variety you buy, make sure it can be grown outside.
Part 2 includes everything you need to know about sowing the seeds above and arranging the pots – prepare to get your hands dirty!
I’ll cover more crops soon including herbs, carrots, chard, beetroot and oriental greens ☺
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