Due to increasing population in big towns and cities, the house or apartments lack areas or spaces to grow vegetables. But, if you are fond of growing your own vegetables or would love to, pots or containers can be your greatest help to raise your own vegetable garden. This practice of growing vegetables in pots or containers are called as container gardening.
Types of containers used
For growing vegetables, the containers could be cement pots, earthen pots and pans, wooden barrels, boxes and crates, plastic jars, cans and buckets, tin boxes and drums of various sizes. Make sure these containers have at least one hole of an adequate size at the bottom as in earthen pots, to drain out excess water. These containers can easily be placed on the terrace, window sills, window boxes and balcony where sunlight is available for the plants.
Required tools, Manures, Seeds, Fungicides and Insecticides
Certain hand tools are primary need of a gardener such as, Khurpi, spade or shovel, watering can, small hand-sprayer, garden hose (with sprinkler preferred), Bamboo stakes and strings. Good soil, river sand, well decomposed organic manure (compost or FYM) and nitrogenous fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides and hand gloves are some basic and important inputs.
Quality seed is the most important factor as this decides the quality and quantity of you vegetables.
How to prepare pot soil mixture
The pot soil mixture should be prepared by mixing good soil, river-sand and well rotten organic manure in equal amount with the help of khurpi, shovel or hands (make sure you use hand gloves, unless you want soil under you finger nails!) The mixture should be free from any kind of soil borne insects, termites, red ants and cut worms, which usually damage young seedlings. As a preventive measure, use a small quantity of BHC (5%) or Aldrex dust to the mixture before filling it in the pots or containers. After a season of crop, the container should be cleaned thoroughly and exposed to the sun for few days. The soil mixture could be re-used after mixing 1/3rd the quantity of organic manure and a small quantity of BHC and Captaf.
NOTE: All vegetables cannot be grown successfully in containers, only few specific varieties of selected vegetables perform well in containers. A list of such vegetables are mentioned below.
List of vegetables recommended for growing in containers
- Beet root
- Broad bean
- Brussels sprout
- Cluster beans
- Green onion
- Onion (Green)
- Summer squash
Growing and care
Most of the vegetables are raised directly by sowing their seeds in containers but certain vegetables require transplanting, such as, brinjal, chilli, tomato, capsicum, lettuce, brussel’s sprout, broccoli, onion, parsley and leek. These seedlings can be grown in earthen pots or pans. A single healthy seedling may be transplanted in each container. Several seedlings, each of onion, lettuce, knol-khol, parsley and leek can be transplanted in a container of the same size. 2 seeds of summer squash and 4-5 seeds of clusterbeans, cowpea, okra and frenchbean are sown in such containers. In radish (table type), turnip and beet root, more number of seedlings can be sown but finally 3-5 seedlings are allowed in a container depending upon the crop.
Plants in pots and containers need a lot of care and attention. Frequent watering is very essential depending on the season, kind of crop and size of the plant and container. During dry summer season, the plant need more water therefore, watering twice a day is needed.
Top dressing with nitrogenous fertilizers improves plant growth and yield of the vegetables directly. Plants of cowpea, tomato and bittergourd require stalking (support). Hand hoeing and weeding with the help of a small khurpi should be done periodically to remove weeds.
Also, vegetables are attacked by various pests and diseases. Aphids and jassids are small-sucking insects, injuring the plants especially in early stage of their growth. Insecticides should be used to prevent their attack and damage.
Virus affected plants should be removed and destroyed.