Growing Large Veggies in Containers – 4 Tips for Success
If you are growing in a small space, like a patio or deck, you might think that you can’t grow large vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, eggplant or watermelon. Not so! With a few quick and simple tips, you CAN grow large vegetables successfully in a small growing space – in containers!
Bring on those fresh, tasty tomatoes, ton’s of squash, and yes, even juicy watermelon. You’ll be growing some in no time on your own on a patio or balcony.
Tip #1: Chose the right container
When you’re growing a large vegetable that is a “heavy feeder” (requires a lot of nutrients to be productive) it is important to chose a container that is big enough to accommodate an extensive root system and still allow the plant to uptake the water and nutrients it needs. If you grow in a container that is too small, your large veggie will not have the space it needs to grow and be productive for you.
I like to grow my large container veggies in 20 gallon Smart Pots fabric containers. Besides being available in a variety of sizes (large and small) Smart Pots are made from a super-durable, aerated material that allows the roots to “air prune”. Rather than circling around when they hit the sides and bottom of the container, and getting root bound, the roots prune themselves, and develop a fibrous root system that is still able to take up water and nutrients. Thus, a large veggie will keep growing and be productive, even though it is in a container.
Tip #2: Choose the right soil and add organic nutrients
Containers tend to dry out quicker than an in-ground garden. Because large veggies are typically heavy feeders, it is important to choose a high quality potting mix that is moisture retentive, and has lots of organic nutrients.
Some options for potting soil are to make your own, purchase in bulk, or use a high quality, moisture retentive bagged mix that is full of organic nutrients.
Before planting, fill your container with soil and pre-moisten the mix until it is the consistency of crumbly brownie mix, but not overly wet.
I also like to add my own special organic nutrients to the potting mix to help these heavy feeder plants get off to a strong start. Vermisterra worm castings, Trifecta + are my go to organic fertilizers of choice. (Receive a discount when you purchase through these links). Both are powerful, organic fertilizers that will give my plants the nutrients they need right away, and feed them long term over the growing season. To 20 gallon container, I add 1 cup of worm castings and 1/4 cup Trifecta+. Work in to the soil and you are ready for the next step!
Tip #3: Consistent Watering
One of the keys to a productive garden is consistent watering. I installed a separate drip irrigation system just for my containers to make sure that they get the regular watering they need. I don’t have to worry if I forget to water, or go on vacation. My veggies are getting what they need to be productive!
Don’t be intimidated by drip irrigation. It is quick and easy to install, and inexpensive too! I’ve used DIG irrigation in my garden for years and installed a DIG raised bed kit for my containers. It has everything you need to get started, and you can even expand on it later, if you like. Watch this video from my YouTube channel “How to Install Drip Irrigation in Containers” so you know exactly what to do.
Ready, Set, Plant!
With the right container, soil, watering, and proper support in place, you are now all set to get those yummy veggies in your containers. It will be so fun to nurture them, see them grow and harvest lots to share with your family and those you love. Nothing like the last of garden fresh, don’t you agree?
When planting your large veggie seedling, dig a hole a bit deeper and wider than the container your seedling is in. Carefully grasp the seedling by the stem, turn the container over, gently squeezing the plant to loosen it. Place the seedling in the hole you dug, fill with soil and tamp down firmly around your plant. I like to give my seedlings a nice drink of Vermisterra Worm Tea, which is helps the roots grow, mulch with an inch or so of shredded leaf mulch, and my plant is good to grow!
Tip #4: Grow UP not OUT
I like to make the most of my garden space by growing UP, not OUT. It’s easy to install a simple trellis to support your plants and save space. I like to use my DIY tomato cages to support the taller plants, like tomatoes and watermelon. Large tomato cages purchased at the garden center work well to support squash, and eggplant.
Comment below – let me know what veggies you are growing in your container garden!
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