Blog: Small Spaces | Oklahoma Baptist Messenger
Growing vegetables in containers is a great way to utilize space on your patio while enhancing your outdoor living space. Food increases in cost and using containers. Almost anyone can find a way to grow fresh produce for themselves.
Over the years, plant breeders have developed excellent varieties of container vegetables, making it possible to produce a lot of food on very small areas. The key to success in this method is to choose the right strains!
Over the years I’ve tried to explain why it’s wise to make good choices and use these specific varieties, but it can be hard to understand, especially if you’re new to gardening. The easiest way I can think of to explain it is to compare these plants to a goldfish. If you buy a goldfish and put it in a gallon fishbowl, it will only grow to two or three inches long. It’s not that fish aren’t genetically capable of getting bigger; his environment limits his full potential. However, if you put that same goldfish in a large Koi type pond, it will grow quite large. It will reach its full potential and thrive.
The idea is to select a variety of vegetable that is genetically capable of, say, growing 24 to 36 inches in maximum height, and do everything possible to help it reach its full potential rather than selecting a capable variety. from growing up to 6 to 8 feet tall and smothering it. A plant operating at full capacity is healthy and highly productive. A plant that is limited may still be healthy, but it will not produce at full capacity.
Container gardening is so fun because it’s hard to find plants that are bred to be very small but still put on tall vegetables. Just because the plant is small doesn’t mean you want small products. And I’m not talking about volume. I’m always on the lookout for small plants that have the ability to provide full sized vegetables.
If you plan to grow tomatoes in containers, or are a late start, you may consider choosing determinate or “bush” types. Unlike indeterminate varieties, these will remain more compact and manageable. The only downside is that they tend to set all of their fruit all at once rather than producing throughout the season.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, you can successfully grow popular indeterminate varieties such as Early Girl and Celebrity in larger containers, but they will need extra support and a tomato cage. In order to help indeterminates reach their potential, your container size will simply need to increase.
The best containers are made from heavier materials such as ceramic or concrete or may even be galvanized storage tanks. They are better insulated and, depending on their size, can often allow some perennials to survive our Oklahoma winters. Sturdy fabric pots are popular because they are less expensive and allow good drainage. Due to their breathable nature, they promote a good flow of oxygen with the roots of the plant. The cheapest containers are plastic. However, they tend to crack and fly off.
In container gardening, the reality is this: if it contains soil and can accommodate the plant, then it is capable of being used. It’s like anything else; you can be as elaborate and spend as much money as you want on containers, or you can use old milk cartons and battered buckets while growing food yourself!
Some of my favorite container gardening varieties include:
Friends, I understand the struggle. Many want to grow food for themselves, but just have limited space and knowledge or are on a very tight budget. Let me remind you that God honors our efforts when we try to educate ourselves and plan wisely. I believe it even grants extra grace when it comes to gardening because, after all, it was God Himself who planted a garden first. With a little experimentation and careful planning, you too can successfully grow food for yourself in very small spaces.
“May he grant you the desire of your heart and fulfill all your plan(Psalm 20:4).