By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners
We have talked about gardening in raised beds but sometimes there isn’t enough room to add raised beds. What then? There is always container gardening.
If you are budgeting (and who isn’t?) there are some good places to look for inexpensive large pots. The local dollar stores are a great place to start as are garage and estate sales. Ask your friends, too, they may have containers that are taking up space in the garage. Bushel baskets, drums, gallon cans, tubs, or wooden boxes even pallets can also make growing containers.
Just about any seasonal vegetable that you can grow in the ground you can grow in a container! Tomatoes grow well in containers as do eggplants, green onions, beans, lettuce, squash and radishes. In 2020 I harvested 18 pounds of sweet potatoes from a whiskey barrel. Don’t forget seasonal hers like parsley.
Although any container will do, make sure that there are drainage holes. If not, you can drill or punch your own. Add an inch or so of gravel or rocks at the bottom to promote drainage. There are many options for your “soil”. The easiest is to buy a lightweight ready mixed medium. You can mix your own especially if you want to experiment with soilless mixes. Remember that you want a medium that drains well and does not introduce unwanted pests (pathogens). Watering is essential but don’t overwater. Once a day should do it and you can check on your plants’ progress at the same time! You can add water soluble fertilizer to the water or add a time release pelleted formula to your soil before planting. For more info checkout: https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/gardening/vegetable-gardening-in-containers/
Tower gardens are also a container option. They save space and require less water and weeding. Think of them as a stacked series of small growing compartments. There are many types of vertical towers for purchase and you can even make your own. With limited space in San Francisco, my daughter grows veggies, herbs, and flowers in a tower garden. She utilizes a central composting compartment for composting organic kitchen scraps. She even added composting worms to make it a vermicomposting tube which releases nutrients to the soil and gives her finished compost. So, her garden tower does what my garden beds, composting bins, worm bins and drip irrigation do and fits her busy lifestyle and small backyard.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, whatever your age, there is a gardening option for you! So, get out there, get your hands dirty, and grow some food. You won’t regret it!
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.