Advice on containers/container plants (vegetables)

Hi,
I moved into my house about a year ago, have watched the pattern of the sun every day, and have finally concluded that the only place I can really put vegetables is on the back deck. I may decide to sacrifice the deck for garden space at some point, but I'm not ready to make that decision yet,
I've been looking at a variety of containers, e.g., the EarthBox, the "tomato kit" that Gardener's Supply sells, and so forth, but they seem very pricey. I thought I'd ask folks here what kinds of containers you recommend, and what kinds and names of plants you have grown successfully in containers. While I realize that just about anything can be grown with a big enough container, my house is on a busy corner and it's important that the containers and plants look nice, too (no big garbage cans full of tomatoes or anything).
Do you think self-watering containers provide enough of an advantage to concentrate on those? Or do you think the average 5-gallon bucket does the trick just as well? What kinds of vegetables have you grown in containers? I am particularly interested in tomatoes (who isn't?) and perhaps summer squash, but open to any ideas.
Gardener's Supply also has an interesting upside-down tomato grower. Anyone ever tried that?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Jo Ann
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My only advice is this:
- Pick the largest containers you can move easily. Then, pick a larger size, especially if you work 8 hours a day, and aren't home to add water on very hot days.
- Use relatively light colors. Why anyone uses dark green pots outdoors is beyond me. They get too hot. Just because a plant likes full sun does not mean it'll tolerate its roots being hot, too.
- Avoid clay pots unless you can find huge ones. Soil dries out much faster in clay pots than in non-porous pots.
- If possible, find a way to shade the pots themselves, to aid in keeping roots cool. This could be as simple as grouping pots together appropriately.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I bought those big "toy tubs" and just cut the white rope handles off. I think they are about 30 gallon size and come in all kinds of colors. I got mine at K-Mart and Home Depot for $5 a piece. I drilled a few holes in the bottom and set them each on three bricks (scrounged from a rubble pile where they had torn down some houses). I put coffee filters over the holes, filled about 1/4 of the bottom with packing peanuts (no weight) for drainage and the rest with a good potting soil. Each fall I put a layer of alfalfa pellets over the surface and let the winter rains dissolve them into the soil. I get a bag of the pellets from a feed and grain store for less than $10. Less mess than the alfalfa meal sold in garden centers. I've grown everything from salad greens, to corn very successfully. I use liquid kelp for fertilizing during the growing period. Works great for me and they look pretty good too.
Val

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Earthboxes aren't cheap but they are worth every penny. (Try Amazon for better prices and free shipping.) They are rugged and will last for years. You can grow fabulous veggies in them since plants get a steady supply of water and fertilizer. Veggies really can 'be all that they can be' in these planters.
We've had Earthbox window boxes in the gazebo in our Master Gardener display garden for years. The plants look fabulous all summer, even through the our tropical July and August heat. The Earthboxes are going on for ten years old and holding up very well.
I think Gardener's Supply also still sells DIY self-watering kits that you can use in your own containers.
Self-watering containers are pretty much essential in hot climates. Container veggies don't take kindly to alternating wet/dry conditions that most ornamentals take in their stride.
-- Karen
The Garden Gate http://garden-gate.prairienet.org =================================================================="If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." ^and cats -- Cicero ==================================================================On the Web since 1994 Forbes Best of Web 2002 and 2004
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
they look great. I found tomatoes do fabulously well when grown in nearly pure bagged sheep manure. they DO need watering every day. but so do my figs which are also in the big containers. I would think those earthboxes would provide more area for the tomatoes to sprawl a bit. Ingrid

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ List Manager: Puregold Goldfish List at http://weloveteaching.com/puregold / sign up: http://groups.google.com/groups/dir?hl=en&q=puregold&qt_s=Group+lookup www.drsolo.com Solve the problem, dont waste energy finding who's to blame ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I receive no compensation for running the Puregold list or Puregold website. I do not run nor receive any money from the ads at the old Puregold site. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Zone 5 next to Lake Michigan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions, everyone! Like most zone 5 gardeners, I'm dreaming my way through the catalogs and itching to get started at this point. The farmer's market in our area isn't very extensive, and I really missed my home-grown veggies last year!
Jo Ann
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In article snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says...

Self watering containers are nice, albeit expensive, but you can build your own if you want. This person has a nice set of instructions:
http://www.josho.com/Earthbox.htm
Personally, I find that earthboxes are too labor intensive for me to build considering all the other stuff needed to be built every Spring for the garden. I use those 20 gallon utility tubs that many places sell for tomato containers. They hold around 3 cu. ft. of soil which is fine for tomatoes. Anything less and you'll have problems. Last year I experimented with 5 gallon buckets and although the plants produced tomatoes, they didn't produce nearly what the 20 gallon tubs did.
This summer I'm expanding from 8 tomato plants to 12 so earthboxes are out. If you're only growing a couple of plants then they might make sense. Instead of earthboxes I'm going to install automated drip irrigation to water everything. Here's a pic from my tomato patch from last summer:
http://www.brandylion.com/gallery/Garden_2006/IMG_3092_001
With tomatoes you need to consider a caging system to keep them supported otherwise they won't grow right. Simple staking doesn't work in containers.
Since my garden is on rooftops, everything is grown containers. I also grow cucumbers, melons, lots of different peppers and herbs, etc. all in different sized containers.

Upside down tomatoes provide for a fine conversational piece for visitors to wonder about but they can't compare with right side up growing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jo Ann wrote:

Maybe Square Foot gardening would work for you; http://www.squarefootgardening.com/html/body_how_to___.html
Carl
--
to reply, change ( .not) to ( .net)

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 10 Jan 2007 03:24:41 GMT, Carl 1 Lucky Texan

Years ago in Australia I saw vertical, tiered planters. Thought that wasa super idea for limited space.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 14 Jan 2007 11:43:38 -0800, Persephone wrote:

I saw those too! Years ago, when I spent the whole summer Down Under (Oz and EnZed). I was so impressed that I took some brochures and thought about importing them. That's as far as THAT idea went. But surely somebody is marketing them here (US) by now?
Anybody know?
Persephone
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 10 Jan 2007 03:24:41 GMT, Carl 1 Lucky Texan

Years ago in Australia I saw vertical, tiered planters. Thought that was a super idea for limited space. A quick Google search found several in the U. S. , of which the best seems to be HGTV's
http://tinyurl.com/yyfevm
Let us know what you think.
Persphone
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Persephone in wrote:

avoid rotting the deck
snip

(sunlight's the limitation with crowded containers)

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 14 Jan 2007 11:45:35 -0800, Persephone wrote:

That was pretty stupid! I should have scrolled down to next message, which happened to be my own! Blame it on a lazy Sunday...
Persephone.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.