More people are discovering the joys and benefits of growing your own organic vegetables at home – the freshest produce you’ll ever eat, free from any unwanted chemicals, much more affordable than buying in stores … and it’s fun!
But what if you don’t have the space or ability to set garden beds in the ground?
Thanks to great potting mix and natural fertilizers that are available, you can successfully grow 100% organic vegetables in pots on your patio, balcony, veranda, or even your deck.
Advantages of Growing Vegetables in Pots
Growing vegetables in pots have some definite advantages over planting in garden beds:
- Pots can be a decorative garden or patio feature.
- Pots are easy to water by hand – suitable for water restrictions.
- Pots can be shifted to suit the season – moved into the sun in winter and to a semi-shaded area during heatwaves in summer.
- Pots require no heavy digging or hoeing as garden beds do.
- Pots can be transported when you move.
Best Vegetables to Grow in Pots
- Bok Choi
- Pak Choi
Some vegetables are not suitable for pot growing, including corn.
Getting Started – Tips
1. Choose your Position
- Most edible plants do best in full sun; however, in the hot summer months the direct sun might be very harsh on your vegetables. Position your pots in a spot convenient to you – and where you will remember to water them. The pots should not block access, be placed in wind tunnels, or in spots where they will be disturbed by dogs, cats, or kids. Some vegetables can do very well in wall pots or hanging pots.
2. Choosing your Pot
- Since vegetables tend to be vigorous growers with root systems that have a very strong appetite, you need a large amount of soil to grow them. As such, you will require large pots. Ideally, choose pots with a top diameter of at least 40-50cm. A 40cm pot will hold a 30-litre bag of potting mix; double this volume for a 50cm pot.Note that plants in terracotta pots require more watering than those in plastic pots. As terracotta pots absorb water.
3. Decide which Vegetables you Wish to Grow
- Most vegetables are perfectly suited to pot-growing, with a few definite exceptions (as mentioned above).
4. Pots Require a Specific Potting Mix
- You must not use soil mix or compost in pots that are designed for garden bed application – these will hold too much moisture and inadequately aerate your pot soil. The result is a root system that is waterlogged and inhibits the growth of your plants. So it’s important that you purchase a potting mix that is recommended for use in pots and for the growing of healthy vegetables.
5. Plant your Seedlings or Seeds
- Plant according to the punnet/packet instructions. Thanks to quality potting mix, seeds are ideal for pot planting.Don’t plant your seeds to close together! They need plenty of space to grow and develop. Limit tomatoes to a single strong plant per pot (plant herbs like basil and thyme around it if you wish).
Caring for your Vegetable Plants
- Mulching is important as it helps condition the potting mix and helps save water too. Mulch seedlings after planting, but for seeds, wait to mulch until after they have sprouted.
- Fertilize every week or two throughout the growing period. Potting mix incorporates starter fertilizer. Choose organic plant foods and apply over foliage and soil so that the roots are drenched. Stop fertilizing when the fruit (vegetable) is set.
- Control pests organically. Vegetables grown in pots tend to be naturally pest-free. Remove snails if you see them and use a soft organic pest spray. You can also flick pests off and squish them as you see them.
- Pasta Pot: plant staked tomatoes with under-plantings of basil, marigold, oregano, and thyme. Suitable for spring/summer.
- Curry Pot: plant staked eggplant with chilli, coriander, curry, and spinach. Suitable for spring planting.
- Thai Pot: plant a lime with Asian greens and coriander. Suitable for autumn/winter.
- Hot Pot: plant a very large pot with capsicum, cherry tomatoes, chilli, marigold, and chives – great in spring/summer.
- Salad Pot: plant peas with lettuce, spinach (spring) or silver beet (autumn), rocket, and chives.
- Hanging Basket: plant strawberries or pot tumbler tomatoes alongside marjoram, thyme, rosemary, chamomile, and mint.
Group your pots for a great visual impact and to make watering easier. Growing your vegetables is not just the healthier, more affordable option – it’s a very rewarding endeavor and great for the environment. Homegrown vegetables taste sweeter and are more nutritious. So enjoy your “moveable” feast!