So you want to grow your own vegetables in containers? Good for you! This rewarding and beneficial hobby has so much to offer our bodies and minds. Whether you are just starting or have been container gardening for awhile, it's always good to remind yourself of best practices...And what better way to avoid common mistakes than to learn from the ones others have made?
Let's look at some of the most common container veggie gardening mistakes so we can be sure to avoid them!
Overwatering may very well be the top reason why container plants die. There are three common reasons behind this trend:
* Not knowing how often to water plants. For novices, just follow this simple rule of thumb: resist the urge to water your plant if its soil is not dry. Use a moisture meter to be more accurate about when you need to water your plants.
* Not watering plants the right way. Some plants need to be watered lightly on a frequent basis. Others need to have their soil dry out completely before being soaked with water. Knowing your plants' watering needs will go a long way to keeping them happy and healthy.
* Not making sure the pots have enough drainage holes. It is absolutely crucial that your vegetable gardening containers have enough drainage holes to let the water drain out easily. Either purchase pots that already have holes in them, or drill 2-3 holes on the bottom of the pot, yourself. It is also a good idea to mix some sand in with your potting soil, which makes the soil looser and easier for water to drain through.
On the flip side, underwatering is another usual suspect for unhealthy container veggies. Although you never want the soil to be soggy, keep in mind that in a container there is less soil and therefore moisture escapes more quickly.
The first defense is to know your plants' individual watering needs. Then group plants with the same watering requirements together. Lastly, make it a daily habit to check soil moisture. It should never feel extremely dry. There is a handy tool called a "moisture meter" than can take away the guesswork.
Not Ensuring Your Plants Get Enough Light
Every type of plant has its own light requirements. Make sure your plants get the minimum amount of light they need for growth. This is especially true with vegetable container gardening. Rotate your plants so they get their share of sunlight regularly and on all sides.
If you are growing your container vegetable garden indoors and you have less than 6 hours of direct sunlight, you may want to install an artificial lighting setup.
If you are only growing low light vegetables like radishes or lettuce indoors, simple fluorescent growing lights should be enough. If you want a full grown fruiting tomato plant, on the other hand, you might need HID growing lights, such as high pressure sodium or metal halide to provide the light requirements needed. Know your plants' foot-candle requirements and purchase a light meter if possible.
Using Outside Garden Soil for Container Veggie Gardening
No matter how rich your garden soil is you should not use it for indoor vegetable gardening or any kind of container gardening. Soil from outside may contain bacteria and can harbor diseases which may prove more difficult to control in a closed environment. You might also end up bringing pests and weeds into your home garden even before you even started planting.
Use special container gardening or potting soil. This will be more sterile than outdoor soil and contain a more appropriate pH balance. Try to get a high quality potting soil containing compost.
Forgetting About Companion Planting
Yes, even though they are in containers, plants should still be grouped together according to light, water and - if growing an indoor garden - temperature and humidity preferences.
And if you are growing several plants together in the same container, there is more to think about than how their foliages complement one another. You need to know if they are mutually beneficial or detrimental to one another.
With a little research you can learn which plants grow well together and which don't, to ensure a happy and harmonious indoor container veggie garden.