No Excuses: Gardening in Containers Gives Nutrition to All
Growing your own food is a great way to ensure you know exactly what nutrition you’re putting into your body, and to protect family wellness from pesticides and other chemicals. You may not have a garden, but you shouldn’t let that be a dampener on your wellbeing; one of the best ways to start growing your own food is in containers.
All you need is a few containers, a small amount of potting soil (which you can get at any garden centre), and some seedlings. This way of gardening is so convenient and simple to achieve, and – as opposed to growing food in a garden – it only takes a few hours to get started. Growing food in containers gives you instant soil fertility, as potting soil is specially designed for optimal fertility, aeration and drainage. Another great thing about container gardening is that it almost completely protects your plants from pests. Plus, it’s super efficient as you can utilise very small spaces, use a minimal amount of water and spend very little time on maintenance.
You can make your own container from raw materials, use an old container that you’d otherwise throw away or purchase containers from the garden centre or online. This means there’s a container to suit anyone’s budget, time availability and inclination, so you really have no excuse not to give it a try! Growing food in containers is ideal if you rent your home, as you don’t need a garden and can bring your containers along with you if and when you move. This mobility is also great for getting the upper hand on the weather, as you can simply move the container during harsh conditions that might otherwise kill your plants, or to sunnier areas during the short days of winter.
The best plants to start with are herbs parsley, coriander, basil, dill, thyme, oregano, mint, chives, and others – but you can grow almost any plant you want. The reason these herbs are best for growing is that they give you the best bang for your buck, improving your cooking no-end. You can use the herbs whenever you need them, in whatever amount you need, and you can’t beat them for freshness and flavour. Buying herbs in the supermarket means all that nasty, plastic packaging, but you can grow your own from seedlings at half the price, and with unbeatable longevity. While the herbs you buy in a shop have a minimal shelf-life, many herbs are biannual and perennials, meaning they grow for two or more years.
When it comes to veggies, salad greens are also great to grow in containers. Lettuce, spinach, mustard leaves, baby beetroot leaves, and other leafy greens are ideal for our cool winter, and the more you pick from them, the more they produce! It’s a good idea to have at least two to three containers on-the-go, so you always have one to “mow” for a fresh salad. Other great winter vegetables to plant in containers include broccoli, Swiss chard, leeks and baby carrots (regular carrots won’t grow very well in containers). Good spring and summer crops for containers include tomatoes, aubergine, peppers, strawberries, cucumbers, squash, beans, peas, and cucumbers to name just a few.
Certain product isn’t recommended for growing in containers, as these don’t give you a great yield per plant. Cabbage and cauliflower, for example, only give one head, which isn’t a lot of food considering you’ve been using that container for three to four months. Likewise, corn gives two to three cobs at best, and so it’s not worth the bother. Plus, as corn is very tall, it can fall over even in a light wind if it doesn’t have a very big container. Stick to the herbs, leafy green salad plants and brocoli, where you can cut and recut until your heart’s content.