Last week, I had a great time at the Wellness Wednesday program at Goodall-Witcher Hospital talking to a group about container gardening. As we wind down the summer, it’s not too late to plant some fresh vegetables and herbs in containers. If you plan it right, you can have fresh greens throughout the winter!
Cool season crops need to be planted in late summer to harvest after the first frost in the fall. Cool season crops include beet, carrot, cabbage, broccoli, onion, greens, radish, turnip, and lettuce. Here are a few tips to remember if you decide to plant in containers:
- Pick a soil mixture and container that will drain well. Your container needs to have holes in the bottom or along the side of the container, about ¼ to ½ inch from the bottom. An inch of course gravel in the bottom will improve drainage.
- Pots that are 6-10 inches will work well for green onion, parsley and herbs. 1-2 gallon containers work well for chard, lettuce, or other greens. Most vegetable crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant need a 5 gallon container
- Fertilize! Your plants need nutrients to grow, just like we do! You can use a time-release or water soluble fertilizer. There are many commercial fertilizer mixes that will work well. Follow the package instructions to mix and apply the fertilizer.
- Be sure to water regularly. Container gardens require more water than you expect because the plants dry out quickly, especially when it’s still warm outside. Watering once per day is usually adequate. If your containers do not have good drainage, you can over-water, which will kill the plant.
- At least once a week, you need to leach the unused fertilizer out of the soil mix by watering. Use enough water that you can see it freely draining from the bottom of the container.
- Find the right light! Most vegetables will grow better in full sunlight, but leafy crops such as lettuce, spinach and parsley can tolerate more shade. Move your containers to the best place for adequate sunlight.
Container gardening has some great health benefits. You should get a great harvest of fresh, healthy vegetables and herbs. You will also reap the benefits of some physical activity if you are working in the yard and tending your plants.
For more information about gardening, check out the Aggie Horticulture website at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/. There are great resources about specific vegetables, as well as a vegetable variety guide for Bosque County. Contact the Extension Office for more information at 254-435-2331.