Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Growing Vegetables In Outdoor Containers Reviewed.

 



Can You Grow Vegetables If You Only Have A Patio Or Balcony?

Many people would like to grow vegetables but either do not have a garden at all or just a small garden. I do not have a huge garden, it is not small but not really big enough for me to grow all the lovely decorative plants I like to grow and also everything I like to have for nature and grow vegetables. Really I need acres! 

For the past few years, I have become increasingly interested in growing vegetables and so three years ago we started. As there is no space left in the garden, it had to all be in pots. 

The first year we only decided to grow veg in March and so had to get on with it really quickly as many seeds need to be sown in March or April. So I did not have time to do research or much reading before I started planting.

In some ways, this was a good thing as I did not get a chance to be worried about it though I could have done with some basic advice. However, to my amazement, most of the crops were a success! 

Beautiful Home Grown Beans

Is It Possible To Grow Vegetables In Outdoor Containers?

Last year I grew the same vegetables and improved upon my skill after reading some good books which helped me to understand vegetable growing in containers and what I was doing.

This year I have just started growing my container vegetable garden again and even branched out to some other seeds to try.

I think you just have to give it a go and see what happens. After all, plants always want to grow. If we give them the right conditions they will do their best to grow as big and strong as they can. 

This book "Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet" is one I used to get me going with vegetable growing. It covers how to grow a range of vegetables in a limited space in pots, windowboxes, various containers and how to organise raised beds. I found it easy to navigate and I liked the pictures to give me inspiration. A decent book especially if you are new to vegetable container gardening. 

 

You may have a small garden, or it might already be filled with your decorative plants and flowers and you do not wish to turn over a section to vegetable growing. Or maybe you do not have a garden but perhaps you have a balcony or a courtyard or even space outside your door. Even people who have large gardens may not have soil conditions suitable for all vegetable growing. So yes I would say it is possible to grow veg in pots with just a few conditions.

 Below are a few tips and suggestions from my own experience for starting to grow vegetables and salads in a container garden. 


Tips For Growing Vegetables In Containers Outdoors

1. It is advisable to use good quality compost to fill your containers. I try to always get a high-quality peat-free garden compost that is a good all-rounder. If you can't get compost each year you can use garden soil but this depends on your garden soil, of course, if you have a garden. Ours is heavy claggy clay and while strong plants do very well in it, seeds always suffer and rarely germinate well. 

So I have to buy good vegetable growing compost and this year I have also bought specific seed compost for starting off the seeds that I will then transplant into bigger pots. You will need to feed your veg throughout the year as well. I find a tomato feed or vegetable feed liquid is good.  

2. For vegetables that are remaining where they are sown choose the largest containers you can. This makes sowing easier and you will not have to water quite so much. Soil always dries out quicker in a container. 

I do start off many of my bigger vegetables in small pots first then transplant them to the large pots. However, the smaller the pot the more watering you will need to do.

Containers of metal while they look great will heat up too much and your veg will suffer. If possible try not to have black containers which will also heat up more quickly.

However, I do have black plastic containers which are Ok if I  shade them with other plants or keep them in semi-shade. Choose containers of clay or plastic and if terracotta do line with a plastic bag or old compost bag and make drainage holes, to help prevent it drying out so fast. 

You can theoretically use any container for veg growing and I have been known to use large yogurt pots and even old washing up bowls with drainage holes punched through!

There are containers to avoid though and that is any that have ever held any poison or chemicals and avoid old tyres which may leach chemicals to your veg. You do not want to be eating any form of chemical! 


Vegetables And Flowers Started Off In Small Pots

3. Get a watering can with a rose attachment or a hosepipe with a gentle spray or mist setting for watering the young plants and seeds. You do not want to wash away seeds or destroy young seedlings with a harsh blast of water.

4. Always water the compost first then sow the seeds. This means for the initial stages you will not wash away the seeds into a clump while watering. Then read the instructions carefully, some seeds require a light covering of compost or vermiculite, others need light to germinate and should not be covered. 

5. Try to place your pots in the best position for the specific seeds - for most vegetables they need a sunny spot but for some they will cope well or need semi-shade. The huge advantage of pots is that they can be moved if needed. 

6. When you have sown your seeds do label the containers with the name of the seeds and the date! I forgot to do this with many of the pots in the first year and I thought I would remember what I had sown in each pot, but how wrong I was!

 

7. Put a few sticks in the compost to dissuade the neighbourhood cats, local foxes, or other wildlife from using your nice soft compost as a toilet until the plants grow up.  

8. Do not have a monoculture of vegetables. Either place your containers amongst other plants that are in the ground or pot up some flowering plants, wildflowers and herbs and place them in amongst the vegetables. That way not only will you attract more beneficial pollinators to help but will also attract predators to deal with any pests that will lay eggs or eat your vegetables.

The carrot fly for example is attracted by the scent of the carrot so if we plant other strong scents nearby like mint or chives,  it confuses the carrot fly who cannot find the carrots! I do not use any pesticides or chemicals at all in our garden and that goes for the vegetables as well. So it is important to me to work with nature on this and attract all the wildlife I possibly can into our garden. Yes, I do lose some vegetables to pests but I gain so much more in terms of healthy food and beneficial wildlife. 


Flowers Planted Near Container Vegetable Garden   


Which Vegetables Can We Grow In Outdoor Containers?

It is always best if you simply grow what you love to eat! You can try anything given a big enough pot. However, some crops like asparagus take a long time to reach maturity and are not so suitable for growing in pots.

Crops like squashes generally take up a lot of space and need more than most containers, though it might be possible with a small variety if you really wanted to try. Especially if you are starting out it is advisable to stick with easier growing varieties. Success breeds success and as we get more confident we can try more difficult veg. 

You can try anything you like. Here are just a few suggestions from my own experience. Probably the easiest crops to grow in containers outside are the Salad Varieties then vegetables like Beetroot, Rocket, Radish,  Broad beans, Baby Carrots, Potatoes and Runner Beans. You can easily buy a wide variety of seeds online. 


 


1. Rocket is very quick and easy to grow and I have had success growing it in a wide variety of containers. Sow a little every week for a good supply.

2. Onions-I buy setting onions rather than seeds as they are so much easier. I simply place them in the container at the required distance and depth. 

3.Potatoes in a bag. This is my most successful way of growing potatoes. I choose potatoes that say they do well in containers. It is important to exclude light from the developing tubers so I simply use 2 compost bags turned inside out and punch drainage holes in the bottom and sides with scissors/ Then a layer of compost and put 2 maybe 3 potatoes in then cover deeply with more compost as they grow. Simply empty the bag out for harvesting. So much easier than digging in heavy soil! 

4.Radish is very easy to grow and does well in pretty much any container. Sow a few, then do succession sowing every couple of weeks for a crop all summer. 


Beautiful Home Grown Radish

5. Carrots but I would advise you to use a tall container and also try a baby carrot variety so they do not need the depth that a garden soil can provide.

I do find carrots take up a container for a long time and are small so sometimes wonder if they are worth it but they are my fave vegetable so deserve a place here. 

They are a vegetable I would always struggle to grow in my heavy soil anyway as soon as they hit a block they will fork and grow distorted so a container or raised bed will always be the way I will grow carrots. Do be aware that carrots must not dry out as again they will grow distorted. One big advantage of growing in a container is that you can easily protect it from carrot fly by placing it high up or by covering it with a light layer of fleece. 

6.Leafy salads from lettuce to oriental mixes and mustards I grow in shallow containers as they are generally a quick-growing crop. I also sow them in between other vegetables like the slower-growing onions.

7.Runner Beans usually require a really big deep pot and supporting canes. I make the canes out of our Cornus or thinner tree branch cuttings.  

8.Broad beans are easy to grow and need well-drained soil and if a taller variety, will need staking. Smaller varieties may not need much support. 


Our Container Vegetable Garden!

So if you do not have a garden and need or want to grow vegetables do gather together some containers and give it a go! You may have some failures, but you will have many successes.

There is nothing like eating vegetables and salads you have grown from seed and nurtured. You have just picked it and minutes later it is on your plate. You know absolutely what is in it and that it is free from chemicals and has not traveled miles to reach you. 

In my opinion, homegrown vegetables always taste better than anything you buy, they are fun to grow and you will feel so proud of yourself. So garden or no garden, in my experience you certainly can grow your own vegetables as a container garden.


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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Easily Increase Your Vegetable Intake with a Spiralizer

how to make zucchini noodles with a vegetable spiralizer
Image by Lou of Lou's Designs
If you're looking to increase your vegetable intake or reduce some of the heavy carbs like pasta from your diet then a spiralizer could be the answer.  Let me review why I think you'll adore having a vegetable spiralizer - I personally love mine, I don't know why I didn't get one sooner.

At the time of writing this I'm doing the Arbonne 30 Day Plan to Healthy Living and Beyond and basically that means that (for this month at least) I can't eat pasta, I can eat zucchini however ... enter zoodles! 

I have been meaning to try and made zoodles aka zucchini noodles for ages which is the whole reason I purchased my vegetable spiralizer.

Making the zucchini noodles was so easy and I'm now seeing lots of other recipes using other vegetables in place of pasta.  What a cool way of getting your child to eat more vegetables than to make their spaghetti bolognaise with zoodles?

So my vegetable spiralizer came with three different blades like the Paderno World Cuisine one below, but you can also get them with 7 blades, Amazon's best selling vegetable spiralizer comes with 7 blades and is the second one featured.




The actual one that I have doesn't seem to be available online which is why I've given you two alternatives.  Now I've only used the blade to made noodles so I'd just get the 3 blade one personally, but...

They were super easy to make you simply placed the zucchini (or vegetable of choice) on the spiky guard, making sure that the other end is in the middle of the round thing that is going to basically core your zucchini so that it looks like a very weird toadstool after the noodles are all made.

The next step is to simply turn the handle, however if that is all you do you won't get very long noodles, you'll just get little curls (they don't say that in the instructions).  What you need to do is as you're turning the handle you need to also be applying a gentle pressure inwards (towards the vegetable) then it will work beautifully.

It is super quick and I simply popped the zoodles into boiling water for a few minutes - basically treating them like fresh pasta noodles.  I've since been told of other ways of cooking them that involve almost sauteing them in coconut oil, but I haven't tried that (and probably won't).

how to make zucchini noodles so that your kids want to eat their vegetables
Image by Louanne Cox, Arbonne Independent Consultant

I would recommend starting with zucchini as it's quite a bland vegetable which makes it ideal to replace spaghetti.  I would also recommend a pinch of salt in the water when cooking it, I didn't do this the first time and it was much better when I did do it.

You can use sweet potato, carrot, parsnips and who knows what other vegetable, just use your imagination.

I will be trying out sweet potato next as I think that will go really well with a number of dishes I enjoy.

Have you ever tired zoodles or thought about making them?  If so then why wait, just do it as Nike would say!

Let me know in the comments if you've tried any other vegetables as I'd love to hear how they went.


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Monday, October 13, 2014

Recommended Reading for Small Space Gardeners

I am so excited that I can barely contain myself.   I have found something that I have to share with you.  I have found a nifty little magazine called Urban Farm: Sustainable City Living.  I am especially happy to have found this issue as the nights grow cold and the leaves begin to change in the mid-Atlantic.  Summer and gardening have begun to draw to a close.

All You Need wooden sign
Some of you are aware that I am a country girl, living in an urban (suburban) setting.  A few of you
are also aware that I try to grow a vegetable garden on my balcony and in my kitchen garden.  I'm not very good at it, but I've done great with tomatoes for two years in a row, and am currently having a great time finding uses for my sweet mint, rosemary, and jalepeno peppers.  

Over the decades, I have purchased many gardening magazines and how-to books.  Mother Earth News has been one of my favorite magazines.  But many times, with those magazines and books, I have had to read the articles and imagine the day that I own my own home again so that I can follow through with the things I've learned.  After all, no matter how much I plan and scheme, I cannot devise a way to raise chickens in my third floor apartment.

Imagine my happiness when I found this magazine that is dedicated to  folks who live in limited space but want a more self-reliant lifestyle.  

I purchased the September/October 2014 issue of the Urban Farm.  Some of the titles include:

  • Framing Out the Cold (small cold frames)
  • Storage Wards (storing your harvest without a root cellar)
  • Behind the Scenes Inside the Hive
  • A Dry Idea (how to dry and preserve tomatoes)
  • Wild Gardens (a foraging garden with wild edibles)
  • Shared Spaces (the urban farm movement)

Photograph by Ken Scicluna
All of the articles have been informative and interesting. I was especially drawn to the small cold frames article.  While I dream of own my own larger greenhouse, such as the one Diana Wenzel shows us how to Do-It-Yourself in her article, I have to deal with my reality.  And my reality is that I have a 9' x 5' balcony and one good but small space at my kitchen window for gardening.  I also live in Maryland.  I have a longer growing season than I had when I lived in northern Indiana, but it's still not as long as I would like.

The article in Urban Farmer shows "farmers" like myself how to use cold frames to make microclimates to extend the growing season.  While I've known about cold frames for years, I always imagine the large hoop style that commercial nurseries use.  There is one photograph in the Urban Farm article that shows a small cold frame insulated in snow with a single light bulb for additional heat and light. The remainder of the article and photographs already have me imagining and planning for my own cold frame on my balcony.  Extending my growing season has just become my new reality.  You can bet good money that I'll be out there before the end of the week, starting some sort of mini-cold frame.

If you are a gardener, no matter the space available to you - acres or inches - I highly recommend that you check  out this nifty little magazine.  Either at the bookstore or at Urban Farm Online.


Written by Dawn Rae

Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.   I am in no way affiliated with Urban Farm magazine nor do I profit from it's sales.  



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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mid-August and the Bounty of the Garden means IT"S TIME TO SHARE!

Have you ever just stopped and thought, "Where is all the time going?"  It seems like just yesterday we were discussing what we were going to grow in our gardens and now we are starting to reap what we have sown!

For some of us that means a bounty of beans, peas, beets, tomatoes and zucchini!  It seems that anyone who has planted zucchini, is now trying to find friends and neighbors who don't have any.  That's what gardeners do, they share the bounty that Mother Nature is providing after finding a hundred ways to prepare zucchini.

But the bounty of the garden isn't all we share, we also share our delight in this years garden, while dreaming of the garden that is to come next year.  So many of us are also sharing the seeds from this years plants, getting a head start on what will come next year.

To that end,  I hope you find a few of these reviews interesting and informative.

Let's start with this years garden and all the bounty that is found therein......
Basil Garlic Pesto Recipe  Use all the herbs that are growing in leaps and bounds.  Don't let them go to waste!

For goodness all year long that started in your garden you could try this, How To Freeze Rhubarb  Nothing says loving like something from the garden to the freezer to the table.

For all those who are reaping an abundance of peppers, you can do this with the red or green varieties and I'm sure your family will love them.  How to Roast Red Peppers

Jaguar Julie's got a vegetable that many people don't like, but try them in her recipes and maybe, just maybe your taste buds will thank you!  I Love Brussels Sprouts : 5 plus 2 Fabulous and Tasty Recipes

There are lots of things growing in the garden and I know for a fact that zucchini is probably one of the most prolific plants.  It's green and good for you, but what do you do with all the abundance? 

Now when all is said and done with the vegetables,  there is also a lot happening with the flower garden too!  It's time to collect seeds and keep them for a beautiful garden next year.  Get out there and start saving something from the present, to add to the future.   If you have never done this before,  there are some great ideas here to help you get started. The Time is Ripe for Seed Saving

Well, I'm hoping that I have given you just a few ideas on how to make the most of your garden abundance with an eye to the future.  Gardeners are the most optimistic people in the world, if it doesn't work this year, there is always next year!


Hope you enjoyed the review, I am the Weekend Gardener Contributor, come join me and many others, who write about what they love!


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Friday, June 13, 2014

I am the Weekend Gardener Contributor

Hi, I'm known as GrammieO and I am the Weekend Gardener Contributor.


Let me put this right out there:  I am not happy unless I have some dirt stuck under my fingernails at some point in the day! 
  
There I’ve said it.  Now this doesn’t mean that I go around with dirty hands or anything like that, but the feel of the earth on my hands is like a salve that takes all my troubles away.
  
Short of Parenthood, I don’t know of any other miracles that we are allowed to partake in.  Parenthood lets you (two) become the makers of a new life. 
  
Gardening lets you take a little seed, with all its Genetic Materials wrapped tightly inside it, and nurture it to life as a plant, that will bear many more seeds just like itself.
  
Gardeners help to color the world with their own special brand of flowers and help feed our families and friends with the abundance, from our gardens.
  
I have been a gardener for a very long time.  My parents started us off, by making us help weed the vegetable gardens.  Our home grown tomatoes were the best!  While I was young, I’m not sure that I had the same appreciation for getting my hands dirty.  Over the years though, that has changed.
  
I love to garden, help other people learn about gardening, encourage others to try something new and share all the beauty that is out there.  Come join me and a great bunch of others, as we learn and grow, not only our gardens, but also our minds, bodies and souls.
  
After all,  I think that was how I was made the Weekend Gardener. I have two lists of gardening tools and products that need to be reviewed and I would welcome you to join in the fun.  Tell us what you like about any one of the things you see on either list, write about your experiences and I will make sure that everyone sees what you have to offer.  I will promote your writings on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest so that all your great ideas will be shared.


Gardening has been a passion of mine for the last 40 years or more. Now don't start adding the years to figure out how old this Grammie is....cause I'll tell you!  I will be 60 this coming 4th of July, so get the fireworks ready.

I love to share gardening ideas, tools, plants, best practices and anything else that makes gardening more enjoyable.

When I find something I like, I share it on our Weekend Gardeners Page on Facebook

I will also Pin it on Pinterest


And not to be forgotten Google +




If you have something that would interest other Gardeners, please don't hesitate to reach out and let me know.  I'm only too happy to spread around the beauty that I find in nature.

Come and check out some of the best ways to make things grow in your garden, right here!

As well as having dirt under your fingernails, you will end up with so many interesting ways to make your garden a beautiful place.


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Monday, May 12, 2014

A Rolling Stone Occasionally Stops to Gather Moss and Other Vegetation

As much as I would like to explore each nook and cranny of the Mid-Atlantic region during my every waking moment, there are times that I need to remain home and get things done. I miss the adventures when I don't wander but the silver lining of staying close to home is that I get to work on some of my other hobbies.

Tomatoes grown indoors after frost
In addition to hiking, camping, and sight-seeing, I dream of living a sustainable and small lifestyle somewhere off-grid.  Currently, that dream feels as though it will always remain a distant and hazy vision. A fantasy.  Then when I spend time “gardening”,  it suddenly feels as though my dream of taking the middleman out of feeding myself is closer to being true than I had thought.

For the past two weekends, I have spent a bit of time preparing my balcony for this season’s vegetable garden.   I moved here in the heat of the summer last year but even so, I started a balcony vegetable garden almost immediately.  

Cold weather came quickly and I moved my tomatoes indoors. Luckily, I had great success with the inexpensive kitchen garden lighting I chose. 

I am so excited that another growing season has arrived and I am working hard to make more space for vegetables by going vertical.

If you are interested in gardening (either in the yard or in containers) I strongly recommend that you search out our gardening experts on Squidoo. I am only listing four links to Squidoo gardening experts here.  However, there are many, many more garden gurus in our writing community.  

  • AnnaMKB has excellent tips about balcony gardening. 
  • JaguarJulie is the backyard garden contributor.    
  • A list of 5 gardening lenses of various Squidoo contributors 
  • A fantastic garden planter idea from angelatvs 

I hope you enjoyed my brief break from wandering across the mid-Atlantic.  I would love to hear from you, how does your garden grow?




Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)


















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