If your gardening is limited by insufficient space or an undesirable soil then you should consider container gardening. You can grow a variety of vegetables and flowers in containers. Mini gardens can be grown on a windowsill, a step or a balcony. Soil borne diseases, nematodes and such can be overcome this way.
Almost any vegetable that will grow in a typical backyard garden can be grown in containers. Vegetables ideally suited for containers include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions lettuce, squash beans, radishes and parsley and other herbs. Pole beans and cucumbers can be used, but they take a lot more space because of their vining habit.
Variety selection is very important. Some of these varieties are noted below.
Peppers: Yolo Wonder, Keystone Resistant Giant, Canape, Red Cherry, California Wonder and Jalapeno
Tomatoes: The determinate varieties work best such as Patio, Pixie, Tiny Tim, Saladette, Toy Boy, Tumbling Tom and Small Fry.
Eggplant: Florida Market, Black Beauty, And Long Tom. There are also smaller fruited varieties that work well.
Squash: Dixie Gold, Early Prolific Straightneck, Diplomat and Senator
Leaf Lettuce: Buttercrunch, Salad Bowl, Bibb, Ruby, Romaine and Dark Green Boston.
Green Onions: Evergreen Bunching, Crystal Wax, and Beltsville Bunching
Green Beans: Kentucky Wonder, Pole Blue Lake, Top Crop and Greencrop.
Radishes: Icicle, Scarlet Globe, Cherry Belle and Champion.
Parsley: Evergreen, And Moss Curled.
Cucumbers: Bush Crop Slicers and picklers, Burpless, Liberty Early Pik,
Additional Information is available from your county extension agent PlantAnswers.com or www.Plants.USDA.gov.
Synthetic soils are best suited for containers. These can be wood chips, sawdust, perlite, peat moss, vermiculite and a lot of other types of media. The important thing to remember is that they should be free of disease and weed seeds. They should be light and drain well. A cup of garden fertilizer such as 6-12-12 or 5-10-10 should be added for each bushel of soil. You can mix your own but most garden centers have soils already mixed. Make sure to wet the mix thoroughly prior to transplanting or seeding.
Almost anything that will hold the soil for the season will work.
It just needs to drain well The size of the container will vary with the plant selection and space available. Pots from 6 to 10 inches are adequate for green onions, parsley and herbs. For most of the larger plants such as peppers, tomatoes and eggplant, five gallon containers work best. After adequate space for root systems, good drainage is most important. The drain holes work best located along the sides of the container about ¼ to ½ inch from the bottom.
Flowers are the most often used plants for containers and the choices are endless. Pots and hanging baskets of petunias,periwinkles, portulaca and small varieties of zinnias and marigolds are good choices.
TEXAS A&M PLANT ANSWERS
More information at USDA
Plant Information From USDA
The best way to feed plants in containers is to prepare a liquid solution and pour it over the soil mix.This can be made as follows.
Dissolve 3 cups of general purpose fertilizer such as 10-20-10, 12-24-12 or8-16-8 in a gallon of warm tap water. DO NOT USE THIS DIRECTLY ON THE PLANTS. This is a concentrate solution. To make your growing solution add 2 tablespoons of the solution to 1 gallon of water.(Preferably rain water) Miracle Grow makes several specialized mixes. Just follow directions on the package. However timed release mixes such as Osmocote are excellent You do not have to feed as often and the nutrients do not leach out as quickly.
Most vegetables, and flowering plants require full sunlight to partial shade. The hot Texas sun can be too much for your plants, but if they are in containers you can move them.
If you use transplants, begin watering the first day. If you start with seeds apply only tap water or better yet rain water and keep the soil mix moist until the seeds germinate.
Plants in containers need to be watered more often, once a day is usually right. A better way to determine soil moisture is to buy a soil moisture tester. they are relatively inexpensive and can save you some grief. With the fertilizer mix mentioned above and some commercial mixes it is a good idea to leach out the soil mix every couple of weeks to get rid of accumulated salts. Osmocote may not need to be leached as often if at all. Here a fertilizer analyzer that reads the EC of (electro conductivity) of the soil can be helpful.
We will address the subject of pests, diseases and problems on another page.
Use the links below to find the germination period and growing information on specific plants.
Also we add growing information to all of our seed packages.