Container Garden: The End of the Season

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

I took on a gardening project in my yard this summer, growing vegetables in containers.Container gardening is a frugal alternative for those without sufficient or appropriate space for a traditional, in-ground vegetable garden. It’s been an interesting and educational undertaking, providing me with a generous supply of fresh vegetables throughout the past few months. I’ve been periodically reporting on my garden’s progress throughout the summer in these previously-posted articles:

No Space to Grow Vegetables? Try Container Gardening as a Frugal Alternative, Container Vegetable Gardening in Action, Container Garden Update: the Bounty Begins! and Container Garden Update: Vegetable Production Continues into Late Summer.

Now, as October arrives, I face the last days of my garden’s production for the season. There are still tomatoes on the vine which I hope will have enough warmth and sunshine to ripen before the risk of frost. I’ve left sweet peppers and jalapenos unpicked so they can ripen to a brilliant red, orange or yellow – their mature hue. They develop a lovely sweetness when allowed to completely ripen on the plant. My late season spinach and lettuce are still producing as are the green onions I planted in July. The green beans, radishes and squash have finished producing. In short, activity in the garden is winding down and it’s time to look back upon and assess my container gardening experience.

Next steps

I’m keeping a close eye on the weather. Our days are gradually cooling down here in the Midwest and within a few weeks, temperatures will be routinely dropping down to freezing at night. At that point, I’ll harvest anything that remains growing, which will most likely be tomatoes and peppers. I plan to bring the herbs indoors and situate them in a sunny window so they’ll – hopefully – continue to thrive until I can place them out in the garden again next spring.

What worked

The container method of growing vegetables worked very well overall. My initial planting was simply a matter of filling the containers with healthy, well-draining potting mix and sowing the seeds or planting the seedlings. There was no tilling or soil preparation necessary. I was able to move the containers to their optimal positioning for sunlight throughout the season. Weeding was mostly unnecessary and when I did discover weeds, they were easily plucked out. Because the containers are above ground level, there was minimal stooping when tending and harvesting. Because I didn’t overcrowd the containers, production was good and I had enough seeds left over for second plantings of some of my crops.

What did not work

I anticipated that my root crops (carrots and radishes) would grow better than they did. My thinking was that the loose potting medium would allow them to grow more robustly than they would have in more compacted ground soil. That reasoning turned out to be untrue for me. My carrots were especially disappointing; growing very little in length. Also, my squash did not produce as many or grow as large as expected

What I will do differently next year

I’ll do some research about those vegetables that were challenging to grow in the hope I can learn some techniques for better results next year. I’ll make adjustments to my crops and/or my gardening practices based upon what I learn.

Considering that this was my first experience with container gardening, I’d say it was a success. I’lll definitely try again next year, enlightened by this year’s experiences. It was a great way to have inexpensive, fresh produce on our table all summer long!

Would you try container gardening?

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