Organic container gardening is one of the easiest ways to grow your own organic produce. They are decorative, inexpensive, convenient and can even be portable. All you need to grow your own mini vegetable garden is a container, some seeds, some potting mix or compost and a few minutes a day.
Organic container gardening basics
Let's start with the container. It can be a flower pot, a window box, a hanging basket, a galvanized feed tub or anything else you can think of. It can be made of ceramic, metal, plastic or various other materials. I have even seen lightweight foam containers that look just like cast concrete--they were very pretty and weren't heavy or fragile like concrete is. The size of the container is up to you. You'll be amazed at how much you can grow in even a small, shallow container
Next, you'll need to fill your container. Well-aged compost is a good thing to fill containers with, especially if you mix it with sand or perlite to help with drainage. A commercial potting mix can also be used, but be careful to get one without added fertilizer--a no-no in organic gardening.
Deciding what to plant
Lettuces, greens and radishes are some of the quickest and easiest plants to grow in your containers. Some varieties can be harvested in under a month from the time you plant them and will be colorful and attractive as they grow.
It's fun to pick a theme for your container garden. What about making a container of all purple plants or edible flowers? Or a spaghetti sauce container with oregano, tomatoes and basil? You can grow almost anything in your container garden. Large plants like tomatoes are a bit challenging because they need to have enough room (a one-gallon container should be sufficient), will use more water than smaller plants and may need some pruning or trellising.
Once your new container garden in growing, it will need care from you on a regular basis. It will need to be watered, sometimes daily if the weather is hot. It may need to be fertilized. Compost tea is a good organic fertilizer. You may also have to weed it. The advantage of the container is that there isn't room for many weeds, and your potting mix should have many fewer weed seeds than your garden soil does.
The last step is to enjoy watching your lovely plants grow and to savor your back-deck or front-porch harvest of delicious organic vegetables.
Superstar plants for an organic container garden
Lettuce: Merlot, a dazzling red variety, and Deer Tongue, a compact variety with intricately shaped leaves.
Greens: Bright Lights Swiss Chard, a colorful blend of tasty greens with pink, yellow, orange and red stems. You've got to see it to believe it.
Peppers: Numex Twilight is a very decorative, very hot pepper that is beautiful to look at.
Edible flowers: Trailing or Climbing Nasturtium varieties are absolutely gorgeous in a hanging basket or window box.
Gardening: One of life's most simple pleasures. That is, until pain overrides the joy. For most Seniors living with arthritis, high blood pressure, or diabetes, gardening is often a fine past time left as a memory.
When the mercury drops and plants die back for the winter months, it's time to clean out those outdoor containers and store them away for next season. Or maybe not. Just because it's cold out doesn't mean you can't have eye-catching containers to liven up an otherwise drab winter landscape. Here's how.