Try container gardening

by Carol Ann Atwood, Master Gardener

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Not enough space for a vegetable or fruit garden? Try growing veggies, fruits and flowers in a container. Look at all the goodies, rewards and edible treasures that you'll be able to collect for yourself and your family.

Almost every veggie and fruit needs a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of full sun per day for success. Some examples of veggies that do well in containers: carrots, cucumbers, green onions, parsley, radishes, dark green spinach and frilly leaf lettuce.

Some fruits that do well in containers: avocados, guava, papayas, oranges, lemons, kumquats, figs, tomatoes and strawberries.

Orange tree in container

To start your vegetable garden, use any well-drained container as a planter. Just make sure there is a drainage hole.

Many types of containers will work - ceramic, planter boxes, bushel baskets, terra-cotta or glazed and painted pots.

To cover the drainage hole, use landscape cloth or screen with pieces of broken pots to prevent leakage of the soil.

Use potting soils, or make your own as instructed in the website below on vegetable gardening. The soil needs to be loose for good drainage.

For vegetables, you can sow your own seeds or buy small established plants at your gardening store. Start 6 to 8 weeks early and put the seeds in peat pots that can be later planted in your container, peat pot and all.

You can start your peat pots on a kitchen windowsill, in a garden room, sunroom or greenhouse.

Now - get to work! Fill your container about 2/3-full with your potting medium. Place your vegetable plants in the container, leaving 1/2 to 1 inch of space at the top for easy watering.

Make sure you take into consideration how big your plant gets before deciding if just one plant or several can be grown in the container.

The faster a plant grows, the more water and fertilizer it requires. A good time-release fertilizer is an ideal way to start.

When plants begin to grow actively, you can use a water-soluble 20-20-20 or a 15-30-15. These are sold in most garden centers. Follow directions on the package.

You can also mulch the top of your soil but don't use Spanish moss as the birds love to pilfer it for their nests!

Be sure to check your plants daily to maintain moisture, combat weeds, remove pests, prune and check for diseases.

The University of Florida publishes helpful information on growing vegetables in containers:

For vegetable container gardening, visit edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh032.

For more information on citrus in containers, see Growing Citrus in Containers.

As always, there is good information about all kinds of plants on the Nassau County Extension website, at Garden Talk.

This site is a summary of all the "Garden Talk" columns written by Becky Jordi, Nassau County extension director and horticulture agent.

So now you know - you can enjoy container gardening for the beauty of the plant display, or you can eat your container garden. Enjoy!

For information on the Master Gardener program and application requirements, contact Nassau County extension director and horticultural agent Becky Jordi at 530-6350 or rljordi@ufl.edu.

 

 

 

Carol Ann Atwood

Carol Ann Atwood lives on Amelia Island and is an active Master Gardener volunteer with the Nassau County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS. For information on the Master Gardener program and application requirements, contact horticultural agent Becky Jordi at 530-6350 or rljordi@ufl.edu.