Indoor Container Gardening for Vegetables

Overview

Gardening outdoors is only possible if you have the space and the correct soil conditions. When planting outdoors isn't possible, container gardens are often suitable for growing a variety of plants. Vegetables can be grown indoors year-round even without the use of grow lamps as long as there is ample light in the home and the correct care is given.

Containers

Containers can be made out of any material as long as it is not toxic to plants and is large enough to contain the vegetables chosen, says the University of Arizona. Consider using recycled materials such as milk jugs cut in half, old baskets lined with plastic and old barrels. Containers require drainage holes, so if your container does not have at least one, a 1/4-inch hole should be drilled into it.

Soil Mixes

Soil mixes that are free of disease and weed seeds are available at most garden centers. Large container gardens may require a lot of soil, so buying commercial potting soil may be expensive. The University of Colorado Extension warns against using outdoor soil due to its contaminants. You may make your own potting soil by mixing one-third part sand, one-third part peat moss and one-third part perlite.

Choosing Vegetables

Choose vegetables that have small fruits for successful indoor growth. Large fruiting tomatoes and squashes do not get enough sunlight or diverse environmental conditions to grow properly in the home. Quick growing crops such as radishes and lettuces do well, especially during the summer, when you can place the container outdoors for part of the day. Look at the planting recommendations on the package to determine whether your containers will be suitable for planting.

Planting

Plant vegetables in the container at the same time of the year as you would outdoors. Fill the pot with moist potting mixture until it is 1/2 inch from the top, says the Virginia Cooperative Extension, and sow seeds according to the instructions on the packaging. If you have similar pots for different crops, put a label with the seeds to ensure you do not mix up the plants. Watering is required almost daily in containers, since they dry out quicker than the soil outdoors. Feel the surface of the soil to determine whether it is moist, or tap the side of the container. A hollow sound from the container indicates the soil is dried out.

Fertilizers

Add fertilizer into your potting media as you plant your vegetables to give them a quick start. A complete, water-soluble fertilizer added during planting ensures that the plant will not need another feeding until eight to 10 weeks after planting. Fertilization is required according to the packaging on the fertilizer label, but every two to three weeks is often sufficient as a rule of thumb.

Keywords: container gardens, vegetable container gardens, container gardening

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on eHow.com, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.