Container gardening is more than just a fad; it is a long-term solution that allows gardeners without the ability to garden in the ground to still grow a variety of fresh vegetables. Choosing which vegetables grow best together in a container garden will require some work on your part. First, you will need to choose which vegetables you wish to grow and then you will need to find out if they are suitable companion plants.
Container Garden Advantages
Container gardening offers many advantages over conventional soil gardening. There is no cultivation required with containers. Add compost yearly to top off the containers. This will add fresh nutrients and keep the soil loose. Healthy soil that is full of nutrients will produce more vegetables than poor soils lacking in nutrients.
Depending on the type of containers you choose and their placement, you may be able to sit in a lawn chair or even stand when working with them.
When choosing which vegetables grow best together in a container garden, consider their light and water requirements. For example, a cool weather vegetable such as lettuce grown in a container with cucumber will be mutually beneficial. The lettuce will benefit from the shade offered by the cucumber and the cucumber will benefit from having its roots shaded by the lettuce. Both plants will benefit from evenly moist soil.
Container Vegetable Varieties
New varieties of vegetables suitable for container gardening are being constantly introduced. If you prefer heirloom varieties, your selection will be a bit more limited, but it is possible to find varieties suitable for container culture.
Most seed packets will say if the variety is suitable for growing in a container. Many seed catalogs will have a container garden section and if not, they will mention in the description if the variety is suitable for container growing. Most miniature varieties will work well in a container.
Beans, carrots, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, onions, peppers, radish, spinach, squash and tomatoes are a few of the possible choices for container gardening.
Vegetable Companion Combinations
Companion planting is about finding out what vegetables, flowers, fruits or herbs benefit one another when grown in close proximately. The plants benefit one another by repelling pests, trapping pests to keep them off the main crop or helping each other grow better.
An example of this is the three sisters’ garden, which consists of corn, beans and squash grown together. The corn provides a natural pole for the beans to climb on, the beans fix nitrogen in the ground increasing the soil fertility and the squash provide shade for the roots of the corn and beans plus the vines act as a predator deterrent.
It is possible to duplicate the three sisters’ garden in a container. Choose a large, oblong container. Plant varieties to try are Baby Blue OG Corn sometimes sold under the name of Blue Jade Corn, Royal Burgundy Pole Beans and Gold Rush Squash.
Other good companion plantings are tomatoes, basil and carrots; beans, carrots and squash; eggplant and beans; tomatoes, basil and onions; spinach, chard and onions; or cucumbers and lettuce.