Simple Vegetable Container Gardening

I have seen various articles about container gardening in magazines and on the internet. Some of the articles show the use of various specialty pots and treat the subject of container gardening more for flowers than for vegetables.

I have a rather large vegetable garden, so I never really thought of using the container gardening concept myself. However, I happened to be visiting a neighbor who had asked if I wanted some rabbit manure for my garden. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity, and while I was there I noted that he had quite a large garden up a hill in his backyard. But, around the patio by the house, he had many containers with various vegetables growing in them. Many were the same as he had in the main garden. I asked why he had some in both places.

My neighbor informed me that his father was confined to a wheelchair (actually a Hoveround) and could not get up into the garden on the hill. His father missed picking the vegetables, which he had a passion for. So my neighbor started planting vegetables in different available containers which he had around the house and kept them around the patio so his father could come out and pick his own vegetables.

I noticed that my neighbor didn't use any fancy containers, but in the alternative, old Spackle buckets, old recycle bins, and even large plastic bins like you get for storage. Yet the vegetables flourished and, needless to say, I was impressed. The following are some photos of a few of my neighbor's containers.

Green Peppers growing in a recycle bin.

A close-up view of the Green Peppers growing in the recycle bin.

Cherry Tomatoes in an old Spackle bucket.

Beets being grown in an old plastic tub.

A close-up of a beet in the tub in the previous photo.

As you can see, you can get some impressive vegetables in simple containers. I started thinking how nice it might be to have some containers next to our screened in porch, integrated into the flower beds. Of course, I wasn't going to give up my larger garden, but we could watch them grow and have a much shorter walk for picking. They would also assist with my desire to start changing my flower beds into more of an edible landscape.

It was rather late in the season but I was chomping at the bit to try this. I decided that it is never too late for lettuce, so I got an old large plastic storage bin and went to work. I drilled some holes in the bottom and covered them with some flat rocks. I them started filling the bin using some good grade soil from an old compost area in my back yard, then some compost, some rabbit manure mixed with hay, and finished it off with potting soil. I then planted a mixture of salad greens to include a Mesclun mix and a Hart's special mix. The bin was then placed in the landscaping right alongside our screened in porch, where I could see it from my usual chair, and the waiting began.

It didn't take very long and I had lettuce growing and I could watch it grow (sort of like watching grass grow). We have a salad everyday with our evening meal and, once it got big enough, we started picking from it every evening for our salad. It was nice, to not only get salad from our main garden, but right outside the door.

The lettuce bin was set in the landscaping next to the screened-in porch where I could watch it grow.

A closer view of the actual lettuce growing. 

Well next year will be different, I will be planting tomatoes, carrot, beets, lettuce, and more in containers and placing them in our landscaping. Of course we won't give up our large garden, but more is better and it gives us the advantage of various plants to pick from. Also, if one plant doesn't do well. maybe one of the others will. You just can't have too many home grown vegetables or enjoyment from watching them grow.

Keep in mind that this is also an excellent alternative if you don't have enough property to have a full size garden. Place a few containers on the deck and you have home grown vegetables. Give it a try.

A couple of years ago I saw some photos from my good friends David and Shirli Kralik, wherby they had grown their entire vegetable garden on their deck. When I was working on this article, I asked if they could provide me some of those photos so I could share them in this article. They were happy to comply and the following photos show how a large deck can be used for your vegetable garden. Pretty impressive, and I thank David and Shirli Kralik for letting me use them here!

As you can see, you can plant just a few vegetables in various containers, or grow a full grown garden. Depending on space and motivation, you can provide yourself with fresh vegetables!

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Copyright © 2017 by John D. McCann