UNL Extension — helping you turn knowledge into "know how"
Try Container Gardening
submitted by Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Educator
If you’re short on space, try you hand at patio or container gardening. The key to being successful involves using appropriate containers and growing media, and selecting adapted vegetables.
The most productive vegetables to grow are the salad crops, such as tomato, pepper, radish, spinach, kale and chard. Cole and rot crops such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, carrots and radish are also well adapted. But be sure to select dwarf and bush types of vegetables. A list of possible choices is available in NebGuide 1896, Selected Vegetable Cultivars for Nebraska, http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/sendIt/g1896.pdf.
Many types of containers can be used for patio gardening; the most important consideration for healthy plants is to use the largest container possible. A large container translates into more soil area and more root development, which results in healthier plants. Containers smaller than a 5 gallon bucket are not recommended because the restricted soil mass results in limited water holding capacity and smaller root development. Small containers will have to be watered frequently, often twice or more per day, during the hottest parts of the summer to prevent wilting. Make sure whatever container you use has drainage holes.
For a growing media, a good homemade mixture consists of 30% compost, 30% topsoil and 40% potting soil. This will result in a mixture that drains well, but also has a good water holding capacity. Plus, the compost will provide some nutrients for your plants. Avoid the use of ordinary garden soil; it compacts easily and contains fungal spores that could result in disease problems on your new plantings.
Vine crops such as snap beans, peas and cucumbers can be grown on a teepee created by pushing 5 to 6 long dowels or sticks into the sides of the containers. Tie them together at the top and allow your plants to climb to the top.
To get the most out of your container space, scatter the seed of radishes, carrots and lettuce across the top of the container, instead of trying to create rows. After harvesting the first planting, a second and third planting can be made in the same containers for additional produce throughout the summer.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office
Contact Information University of Nebraska-Lincoln
in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528 | 402-441-7180