Container Gardening: A Gateway to Sustainable Food

Vegetable garden

As of 2012, a study from Scarborough revealed that around half of Americans had done gardening work within the past year. For many, gardening meant planting spring flower beds or handling routing landscape work, but you can turn work in soil and grass into a survival tactic by growing your own fruits and vegetables. Even if you live in a home with little to no yard, you can start gardening with containers.

What is Container Gardening?

Container gardening is growing anything in pots or other containers. You can do so inside or outside, and many people who live in patio homes, condos, or apartments use deck and porch space for container gardening. The benefits of container gardening are that you have more control over the soil and environment, and you can grow things anywhere you can position containers to receive ample sunlight. The downside is that you do have a smaller growing space, which limits what and how you can grow.

Best Foods for Container Gardening

You can grow anything in a container, but some crops will produce more in a container than others. Corn, for example, isn’t usually worth the effort, since you’ll only end up with a few stalks. Beans and peas—particularly those that grow on a bush, work well in large containers.

If you can arrange several containers under a trellis or other support structure, you can also grow beans on a vine. Root vegetables such as carrots can be grown in a deep container, and bush-type cucumbers work very well in pots.

Other container-friendly crops include peppers, eggplant, squash, and tomatoes. Vegetables that grow in a head, such as cabbage or lettuce, are good choices, as are broccoli and cauliflower. Some crops, including herbs such as basil and romaine lettuce, can be harvested as needed and will continue to grow back under proper care.

Tips for Container Gardening

Like any garden, container gardens require daily care. Make sure plants are getting ample light but are not scorching in the sun. Container plants will dry out faster than those planted in the ground. Water plants appropriately and make sure each container has ample drainage. Too much moisture can ruin crops or cause mold.

Plant vegetables and other items in big enough pots to generate plenty of growth—your harvest is always limited by the size of the pot. You can either start with large pots or transfer seedlings from smaller containers. In climates that are not warm year-round, consider starting your seedlings under grow lights in a garage or basement.

For more information about food survival, check out this presentation.