Gardening is an acquired talent, one that takes years to flourish before you can finally consider yourself adept. When I first started to take an interest in gardening, I was quite appalling. I had too heavy a hand with water, I was not aware of the exact quantities of manure and fertilizer required to stimulate optimum growth and I was hopelessly misinformed about which plants I could and could not grow.
It took me a while to find my groove, and most of it was a result of awareness. It is important to figure out what you want to grow in your garden, and if it is realistically possible before you set about doing it.
In this article, I shall be discussing a few container vegetables (vegetables that can be grown in containers) eminently suitable for beginners.
Note: Container vegetable are those that can be grown in containers or pots, instead of having to be planted in the ground. The broader term, which encapsulates a larger variety of plants, is container gardening or pot gardening. This is often a method opted for by people with smaller gardens or those making their first forays into growing their own food.
Beans are good container vegetables- they have the ability to thrive in small spaces. There are a couple of different options to choose from when making the decision- you can either go for the normal ‘bushy’ variety that grows in clusters or for climbing trellises wherein you run pole beans up a vertical support.
A minimum pot depth of 12 inches is required for the plant to have a strong foundation and roots.
The bush bean, in particular, is my favourite. It grows snappy and sweet beans and takes about two months to fully mature. Sunlight is recommended.
2. Chilli Peppers
As a self-confessed lover of all things spicy, there is nothing quite as satisfying as the real deal- the vegetable itself.
Chilli peppers, I will have you know, are great potted plants. They do not take up too much space, are non-invasive on the whole and add a splash of welcome colour to one’s surroundings.
A pot depth of at least ten inches is recommended, for, although small plants, chilli peppers need long roots in order to have firm growth. Sunlight is imperative, so make sure that you place the container in a sunny part of your garden.
Pro Tip: Jalapeno Peppers and Thai Peppers are particularly well suited for pot gardening.
Another space-saving vegetable packed chock full of nutrients, kale is most definitely an option you would want to include in your list. Remember to use a pot with a foot-long diameter, as this gives the plant enough girth to grow into. A well-drained potting mix is another prerequisite, especially when growing more than one individual plant.
Make sure to place the pot/container in a sunny but shaded area of your backyard. Direct exposure to the sun can cause the leaves to scorch.
Most varieties of kale require between one and a half to two months to mature and be harvested.
Another leafy green perfect for having in close reach in the house, lettuce is ideal for plantation in small, shaded areas. It has a shallow root system, which entails that a pot with a depth of even 6 inches would be suitable for housing lettuce.
Lettuce varieties usually have a maturing period of 35-60 days. Lettuce leaves are also versatile in how they can be harvested- they can be picked as baby leaves or when full-sized heads have been developed.
Pro Tip: Arugula Slow Bolt is a specific variety of lettuce, with a distinctive peppery taste. It is suited to cooler temperatures and prefers partial shade.
Herbs are great container plants- they are edible, flavorful and green. Rosemary needs the sun to grow well- a minimum of 6 hours in the summertime if not more. Over-watering must be avoided because once established rosemary prefers to be on the dry side. Drainage is another important aspect that needs to be addressed when planting rosemary.
It is a fast grower and can grow up to 3 feet tall in optimum conditions. Re-potting can be considered if the herb happens to outgrow its container. Pruning is recommended.
Rosemary can be easily propagated by using stem cuttings.
When properly cared for and kept free from disease, container cucumbers can grow to be quite as good as when cultivated in large quantities.
The seeds need to be planted a good 2-3 inches deep in the soil, which entails that the pot depth should at least be more than ten inches. If planted in a section of the garden that receives full sunlight and has fertile soil, cucumbers have the ability to be quite prolific.
Cucumbers grow best in mildly warm temperatures, which can be around May for cooler climes and as early as February for warmer countries.
Cucumbers can be harvested in 50 to 70 days.
A ready-to-eat vegetable of sorts, peas make for greater container plants. They can be planted in rows, the number of which is dependent on the space available. In absence of adequate space, bring in the help of vertical support so the plant can grow upwards with the help of sticks and twine.
Peas require moisture, and you can never take your eye off the ball for too long. Do not let the soil dry out; frequent watering is necessary. Sunlight is another stimulator, and the plants need a few hours of sun every day.
Peas take between 50-80 days to be ready for harvest.
And there you have it, seven different container vegetables for a beginner garden. Perfect for city dwellers and those with not enough space to have rows and lines of vegetables in their garden, container gardening is definitely something that is worth a shot.