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Growing Vegetables in Containers
Old 10-19-2009, 01:36 PM   #1
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Growing Vegetables in Containers

Last April I announced that, this year, I would be trying to grow veggies in containers on my back porch. As the growing season is coming to an end, and since many of us grow our own vegetables, I thought I would report on my successes and failures.

Overall, I think that the results have been amazing. I tried to grow the following: mesclun salad, swiss chard, strawberries, cherry and grape tomatoes, several varieties of peppers, several varieties of cucumbers, radishes, carrots, beets, turnips, green and yellow wax beans, herbs, and zucchinis.

I was disappointed with the radishes, turnips, beets and carrots but MIL also had poor results with them in her in-ground garden so perhaps the weather had a part in it (last year she had great results with radishes and beets).

Everything else far exceeded my expectations despite lighting conditions that are far from ideal for growing veggies (our house is surrounded by a thich tree canopy which lets in about 8+ hours of filtered sunlight and only 2-3 hours of full sunlight per day). I plan on expanding my garden next year and concentrate on what grows best.





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Old 10-19-2009, 01:53 PM   #2
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Nice. I can't help but notice that pretty brick wall.

I grow an herb garden in a huge pot by the back door every year. I would like to up the basil production and might try that in some separate pots. In the big in ground vegetable garden my cousin and I maintain at the old family farm we had big carrot production this year. I never thought of trying root veggies in pots.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:04 PM   #3
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Wow...you did a great job! I tried growing tomatoes in a container...twice. After about 100 gallons of water and a bit of fertilizer, I got 3 puny tomatoes.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:17 PM   #4
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Martha,

Basil did very, very well in my pots. I planted a mixture of sweet and Thai basil.

People have reportedly grown root vegetable in pots with much success. Some even plant potatoes! The carrots worked best for me. I used a petite carrot variety which supposedly does well in containers. I ended up with what looked like orange radishes! Very sweet, very tasty, but too much work for only a meager yield. I had great hopes for the radishes. The tops looked very healthy but the roots did not swell very much. We had a very cold and rainy spring and I thought that maybe the weather was to blame. But I think that I will try the radishes again.

That pretty brick wall actually helps a lot. It stores heat during the day and releases it at night. I think it somewhat makes up for the poor, uneven lighting conditions. I put the fruiting veggies against it so that the fruits have a better chance to ripen.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:22 PM   #5
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Wow...you did a great job! I tried growing tomatoes in a container...twice. After about 100 gallons of water and a bit of fertilizer, I got 3 puny tomatoes.
Tomatoes were the stars of my garden this year. I had only 2 tomato plants, one cherry and one grape and together they produced more than 350 tomatoes. At some point I could barely keep up!
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:50 PM   #6
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Perhaps I should try the smaller varieties. Hmm, then we could get together and have a poker game betting grape tomatoes.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:55 PM   #7
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Perhaps I should try the smaller varieties. Hmm, then we could get together and have a poker game betting grape tomatoes.
Sounds good!

I picked the smaller varieties for all my vegetables because I had read that they do better than full size varieties in poor light conditions.
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Old 10-19-2009, 03:45 PM   #8
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You're one of the very few people I know that have had such whopping success with container gardening. Wow! You done great, kid!!! At some point, I'm going to try container gardening, and now I know who to come to for help..hint, hint!
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:39 PM   #9
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Thanks Orchid,

I'll be happy to help. One thing I noticed is that vegetables grown from transplants did much better than those grown from seeds. So next year, I might start growing a few veggies indoors and then transplant them in the pots.
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:01 PM   #10
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For the last couple of years, I have been growing veggies in pots on my patio. I had 8 pots this year and did very well with cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers, basil, dill, parsley, rosemary, red leaf lettuce and thyme. I use a lot of basil when making pesto, and it is nice to come home from work and pluck the makings for a little salad. I make sure my pots have good drainage and it is a plus to be able to shift the pots around from sun to shade and under an overhang during exceedingly rainy spells. I can also position them to minimize impact from varmints. I buy my plants from some elderly ladies who start them from seed in their greenhouses.
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:03 PM   #11
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P.S. Firedreamer, I also like your wall very much. It looks like old brick in a serpentine design. Very nice and your produce is stunning.
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:49 PM   #12
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Thanks whodareswins. Well, ho-hum, the serpentine effect is actually unintended. The wall has settled and is leaning forward in some areas. We will probably have to replace it in a few years. I would like to recycle the brick and use it as a veneer on the new concrete wall (it matches the bricks on the house) but we'll have to weigh that against cheaper but certainly uglier alternatives.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:03 PM   #13
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...I had great hopes for the radishes. The tops looked very healthy but the roots did not swell very much. We had a very cold and rainy spring and I thought that maybe the weather was to blame. But I think that I will try the radishes again.
Love your container garden.
I'm still doing traditional in-the-ground gardening. For the second year in a row, my radishes did the same exact thing. I planted them, I thinned them with tiny garden scissors, I weeded them, I loved them like my own.
Gorgeous foliage, but nothing underground but thin tapered roots.
Growing radishes is NOT rocket science.
Anyone know the secret ? Soil ? Phase of the moon when planting? Read Shakespeare to them?
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:16 PM   #14
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FD, I remember exchanging some posts with you on container planting. Looks like you have had reasonable success.

I did not plant anything this year. Might as well as it has been a hot summer here in the low desert, and I doubt anything can grow successfully. Up in my high-country place, my neighbor down the road just had her plants taking off though she put down the seeds many months ago. Night temperature is already getting back down to freezing, and I doubt her plants will survive.

I've given up hope of planting anything here, other than succulent plants in the dry low country and evergreen in the high places. Maybe in the future, when I get a place up in the Pacific North West ...
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:42 PM   #15
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Very nice Firedreamer!

bbbamI,

I think the key to container gardening is getting self-watering containers with a water reservoir, like the ones Firedreamer is using. Otherwise, the water and fertilizer go through the container... and out (That's what you might have experienced...)
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:06 PM   #16
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Growing radishes is NOT rocket science.

I know! Just about every gardening book I have says that growing radishes should be a slam dunk! It is frustrating. Last year, I had beautiful tops too and no roots so I decided to spray them with a solution rich in potassium. A few days later I had gorgeous roots. I can't be sure whether it was because of the extra potassium or not, because I later read that too much fertilizer is responsible for a luscious foliage but small roots. Maybe the potting soil I used this year was too rich in fertilizer...
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:16 PM   #17
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Firedreamer: Let me understand this fully: You will plant some seeds in pots inside and then transplant them later to containers outside?
I see you didn't grow any parsley or mint. They grow so easily in soil I should think they would just kick fanny in containers. I make alot of tabouli in summer and you use these two herbs in that Middle Eastern salad.
You didn't say how the strawberries did although you didn't say they did badly. How did the strawberries do? I hear they literally take-over gardens, so how were they growing in containers? Do they spread alot?
I had to look up mesclun salad, but what are you growing exactly? Is this from seed?
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:22 PM   #18
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Very nice Firedreamer!

bbbamI,

I think the key to container gardening is getting self-watering containers with a water reservoir, like the ones Firedreamer is using. Otherwise, the water and fertilizer go through the container... and out (That's what you might have experienced...)
Good grief...I bet you're right!

Looks like I have some homework to do.... It will probably cost $500 for 25 tomatoes, but I just might try it again. I've also been thinking about a "raised" mini-garden. Something I could plant veggies in that is about waist high.....I'm gettin' old don't ya know and the rumatiz acts up every once in a while....
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:45 PM   #19
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...I'm gettin' old don't ya know and the rumatiz acts up every once in a while....
No! Not the "o" word!
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:58 PM   #20
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Firedreamer: Let me understand this fully: You will plant some seeds in pots inside and then transplant them later to containers outside?
Yes, that's exactly what I want to do.

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I see you didn't grow any parsley or mint. They grow so easily in soil I should think they would just kick fanny in containers. I make alot of tabouli in summer and you use these two herbs in that Middle Eastern salad.
I had some parsley and mint (as well as oregano, thyme, cilantro, chives, catnip and lemon balm in addition to the basil). The mint was planted in a separate pot because it is so invasive! It did OK at first, but was ravaged later on by a huge downpour and never recovered. The parsley did really well.

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You didn't say how the strawberries did although you didn't say they did badly. How did the strawberries do? I hear they literally take-over gardens, so how were they growing in containers? Do they spread alot?
The strawberries did well, much better in fact that those in my MIL's in-ground garden because hers were eaten by slugs before she could get to them. They left mine alone because they were off the ground. The lack of sun, though, meant that my strawberries were not as sweet as I would have liked. My parents grow their strawberries in containers in a sunny location and have great results. The plants really increased in size dramatically in the pots but haven't "multiplied" as they do in in-ground gardens. I plan on replacing them every 2 years.

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I had to look up mesclun salad, but what are you growing exactly? Is this from seed?
Yes, this is grown from seeds. It is a mixture of salad green and herb seeds. The composition changes depending on the brand. The mix I love has arugula, chervil, endive, red russian, raddichio, red romaine, bibb and salad bowl green. Check out this guy grows his mesclun in a regular kitchen bowl:

Plant Profile - Mesclun - Container Seeds.com

This is a picture taken in mid-April, before things got wild.



Clock wise starting at the bottom: swiss chard, mesclun. strawberries, peppers in the bask, herbs in the front, tomatoes in the back, carrots in the front, radishes, mesclun in the back, turnips/beets in the front. It makes me laugh how tiny the tomato plants were back in April. They were 8 ft tall in the end...

Zooming in on the mesclun seedlings:

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