The benefits of gardening, especially vegetable gardening, are being splashed all over the internet these days. I get it. The upside is huge. It brings the family together. It teaches self-reliance. You’ll learn more about the nutritional benefits in the foods you choose to grow which leads to better eating habits. If you have picky eaters, studies show your kids will eat more vegetables, if they help grow them.
Grow more vegetables and the whole family will eat more vegetables.
Plus vegetable gardens take work. It’s fun work but still works. So you’ll get some exercise. You’ll be moving your body instead of sitting in front of a screen. You’ll get some vitamin D (sun). It’s a mindfulness practice and an opportunity to talk to your kids, your spouse, or a practiced meditation if you’re going solo.
Lots of upside in gardening.
So why isn’t everyone doing it?
Well, it takes space. It’s a commitment. If you don’t have space or the inclination to plow up your back yard what’s the best way to get started?
Try container gardening. You can grow most vegetables in containers. Growing vegetables in containers is easy to start. Easy to maintain. You’ll get the same benefits that you’d get from a full-scale garden. Think of it as a sample pack. If you’re family loves it you can expand into more and more containers. Or build a raised garden bed for planting. Or if you become hooked – fill in the pool and go big.
Whichever way you decide – big or small – these are the steps you need to consider and address to plant your very own vegetable garden.
Choose the right location for your containers
Easy first step.
You’ll need a spot that get 6 – 10 hours of sunlight per day. When you pick out your vegetables to grow, match the sunlight requirements to your growing spot. Some containers can be moved in and out of the sun. Some containers can be put in spots that are easy to shade.
You will be watering your vegetables. Make sure your containers are in an easy spot to reach with a hose or get water to. There will be drainage. Place your containers someplace that a little water drainage won’t damage.
Just don’t overthink this one. Get a spot with sun. Then get started.
You can have fun with this.
Almost any container can be used to grow something in. Check out yard sales for old pots or tubs. Go to antique stores. Use a canvas grocery bag. And of course, any garden store will have a wide variety of containers to use. You are looking for something that has adequate drainage or something that you can drill a hole in to create drainage.
Terra Cotta may be great for flowers but it’s not so great for vegetables. Terra Cotta and other types of clay pots can leach out water and nutrients that your plants need to grow. Stick to other materials. If you have a clay container you love and just have to plant, line it with a food grade plastic. Just make sure to poke some holes for drainage.
Match the size of container to your vegetable. If you’re planting micro-greens or radish you can use a small container – three gallons or less. If you’re planting tomatoes, you’ll need a bigger container that is at least 5 gallons.
Most plants have roots that will grow from 6 – 8 inches. Some may grow to 12 inches or more. Pick a container that is deep enough to allow for the roots to fully grow. Soil is expensive so if your container is deeper than you need fill it up with recyclable plastics and add your soil on top. It will reduce the amount of soil needed and help with drainage. Just make sure you are using food safe plastics.
Preparation of the soil
Soil is the most important aspect of growing your vegetables successfully. Don’t worry though. Just go buy soil at your local garden shop. Go organic. You’ll be eating these vegetables. Using organic soil will ensure a high-quality soil without any pesticides or contaminants.
Feeding Your Vegetables
Again, don’t over think this. Plants need water. Keep the soil wet. Use your finger. Stick it into the middle knuckle. Is the soil damp? Then you’re good. If it feels dry add water.
You need to add some plant food on occasion. The best for vegetables is a blend of fish and seaweed fertilizers. It’s a balanced fertilizer that works great for the vast majority of vegetables.
Feeling ambitious? Start your own compost. If you’re using it for your vegetable garden don’t put in grass clippings. Grass clippings can create an obnoxious smell.
Picking the Right Vegetables
Pick something you will eat.
Leafy greens mature fast and are easy to grow. Peppers, squash, arugala, spinach all grow quick. Vegetables that are great for containers gardening include:
- Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
- Squash – in all of their varieties
If you’re doing this as a family project it’s great to see quick results. These vegetables have a quick growth cycle:
- 70 days – summer squash
- 65 days – peas
- 60 days – cucumbers, okra, bush beans
- 50 days – beets, carrots
- 45 days – green onions
- 30 days – spinach
- 25 days – romaine leaf lettuce (my favorite), radish
- 20 days - arugala
And the king and queen of speed…
- 7 – 10 days – micro-greens
The second consider seeds or seedlings. Seedlings get you up and running a little quicker but they are more expensive. Start with seeds. You’re going to kill some plants in the beginning. It happens. So start with a less expensive option and stick with seeds. And a little pro tip – plant the seed vertically. Planting seeds horizontally can cause water to pool on the seed which might create fungus or other issues.
Flowers and Other Edible Plants
Flowers are quick and easy to grow. There are a lot of versions now that are edible as well. They add color to your salad and your kids will love the ideas of eating flowers.
If you have any questions just shoot us an email. If we don’t know the answer, we will be happy to do the research for you. And please sign up for our sometimes-weekly newsletter. We’ll give you tips on nutrition, organic foods, new research on health and wellness, and some fun tips for family projects.
Make this fun. No one wants or needs more work. We want fun. We want to learn. So, keep this simple. Keep the kids busy. Just follow the simple steps…
- Pick a Spot
- Pick a Container
- Use Organic Soil
- Pick a Veggie and Plant it
- Feed Your Creation
- Water it
- Watch it grow
- Eat It
If you have any questions just shoot us an email. If we don’t know the answer, we will be happy to do the research for you.