Many people living in the heart of towns and cities enjoy urban gardening. But how can you do any kind of gardening if you don’t own a large plot of land or have access to an allotment or community garden? Try container gardening!
Container gardening is a great solution for those of us who have limited space available. Container gardening is also a very fun, versatile, and rewarding hobby and can be highly addictive! It helps us to make use of those otherwise redundant and awkward areas of our homes.
We’re all about frugality here at Survival at Home, and in today’s economy it can become a struggle to keep food on the table and provide for your family’s needs. Container gardening is just one of the many ways you can save money.
If the only area you have access to is small, then it may seem that the prospect of growing your own food is out of reach. However, even the smallest balcony, patio, or window box can provide an abundance of food for you to enjoy. If done right, these methods can save you a LOT of money and provide you with a good, healthy living experience — but the key is ‘doing it right’.
Anyone can dabble with the urban homesteading experience by throwing a few seeds into a pot of mud, stick it in the sunshine and get a plant. The real challenge is to get that plant to produce a sufficient yield to even warrant the effort.
I know of several people who like to grow tomatoes each year in pots on their patios, however they seldom get more than a few measly fruits throughout the entire growing season. yet with just a couple of changes in their approach, they could have more tomatoes than they know what to do with!
Combining Different Growing Methods
Using containers makes it possible to grow food in areas where it would otherwise be impossible. A concrete patio won’t grow diddly squat, but add some grow bags (like these Root Pouch Boxer Browns) to the area, and you’re in business!
But if you do have a little patch of yard you’d like to use, by employing some simple and innovative methods covered in more detail on this website (such as raised bed gardening and square foot gardening), you can get some excellent, and money-saving crop yields from just a tiny amount of space.
By combining some of these methods, you can build yourself a beautiful and highly productive garden. By using the raised bed method inside another raised bed, and then placing containers on the corners, you can create interest inside your mini-farm growing area!
I'm so happy with this #tomatoplant. Last year, my #tomatoes just didn't do very well. By the end of the season, neither plant was nearly this tall. Here we are in June, and the plant is growing faster than and tomato plant I've ever grown! #apartmentlife #apartmenthomesteading #homesteading #homegrown #growyourfood #wholefood #realfood #garden #gardening #vegetablegarden #containergarden #containergardening #vegan #vegetarian #paleo #primal #doingthestuff #selfreliance #selfsufficient
Grow Organically with Containers
Something else worth considering is growing your food organically. An organic vegetable garden can be easy to grow and the rewards for not using chemicals, pesticides and herbicides on your food are obvious.
Organic food that is grown without the assistance of any sort of chemicals not only tastes better, but is less likely to add to any health concerns your family may be facing. There is somewhat of an art to it at times, but the outcome is well worth the cost of the time to learn.
More Control in Containers
Growing herbs and vegetables in containers gives you much more control over your plants. You can move them indoors if you are faced with an unexpected frost.
If they don’t appear happy where they are (maybe due to improper amounts of sunlight — too much or too little), just move them to another position.
In fact, you can even grow some herbs and vegetables indoors if you have a suitable sunny or bright area where you can sit some pots. You’re not limited at all with where you can grow in containers.
A Few Low Cost Container Options
You don’t need to go out and buy expensive or flashy containers — you can use almost anything. If it can hold some soil, is large enough, and can have a few drainage holes put in the bottom, then you can probably use it. Old wheelbarrows, 5 gallon buckets, plastic soda bottles cut in half, old tin cans — the list is endless and only limited by your imagination! Just be sure whatever you use is food-safe and won’t leech out any harmful chemicals into the soil.
Some plastics tend to go brittle after a while, and you may find yourself having to replace pots as they start to break up. Heavy duty polythene bags will also do an adequate job, but remember to make a few drainage holes.
I’ve even seen some people use those fabric reusable grocery bags as planters with some good success.
I have found that cheap 5 gallon buckets do a good job as a growing container — possibly because they have a slightly higher rubber content which makes them less susceptible to being dried out and made brittle by the sun.
The good thing about 5 gallon buckets is that you can often get them free! Visit local restaurants and grocery stores and just ask them if they have any to spare. If you tell them why you’re wanting them, they may give you as many as you want!
A Few Basic Tips about Container Gardening
- Whatever pots or containers you use, they must have holes in the bottom for drainage to prevent plants from drowning.
- Your plants will need to be tended once they begin to grow. Watering is a regular requirement of container gardening unless you are able to rig up some kind of automatic drip irrigation system or porous hose.
- Be sure the size of your container is appropriate for the size of your plant. It’s easy to get carried away when potting young plants and overcrowd them. Remember — they do grow up!
- Be sure to remove any old roots and plant matter. Dig, mix and aerate the soil well at each new planting cycle. This is essential in avoiding the compacting of the soil. Good aerated roots will help to bring you a fine crop and a high yield.
Do you grow food in containers? What tips do you have?
Check out what my friend Dan has to say over at the Urban Turnip about Urban Survival Gardening! He’s got the right idea on how to best use containers!