Planning a container garden

eellsworthApril 21, 2011

I'm trying my hand at container gardening this year (renting, can't dig up yard for in-ground gardening). I've got an idea of what I want to do, but I thought I'd ask for advice, especially on how many plants to put into a container. This is what I'd like to plant:

Tomatoes (one early season and one mid-season for canning)



Peppers (hot and bell)





Beans (probably filet)

This is what I have planned so far

1- 31 gal SWC with two tomatoes

1- 31 gal SWC with one eggplant and two peppers

1- 18 gal SWC with 15 bean plants

1- large SWC with a hot pepper like super chili or anaheim with cilantro

1- large traditional container with oregano, basil and rosemary

1- 18 gal SWC with two cucumbers

I also have two hanging baskets that are currently growing lettuce. However, once that's harvested, I think I'll replace them with flowers.

Any suggestions? Am I overplanting or underutilizing any space? Thanks in advance!

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It boggles my mind that you're just now *planning* your garden... amazing how much climate influences your life. Down here in Houston, I was late because I planted my tomatoes at the end of March... whether I can get a good amount of fruit to set before it gets too hot is up to the whims of the sun and the wind. Okay, I'm done being captain obvious :) I'm not an expert, but here's my opinion on a couple things.

What kind of self watering containers are you doing? DIY sub-irrigated planters using the soil as a wick (like the ones often made in rubbermaid tubs)? If so, your quantities look good to me, except for the beans. Even with non-vining beans like filet beans, thats a lot of plants. From I've seen and read, climbing beans are a better choice for SWC's, because you get a larger harvest with a small amount of soil. I'm not sure how long your growing season is, but even one or two climbing bean plants can easily overtake a standard trellis, and will often continue to grow as far as you support them.

If you can, train the cucumber plants to separate trellises. They're also vigorous growers once they get started, and you'll want the extra room for them to sprawl and produce!

Separate the herbs... oregano is almost as vigorous as mint, and can easily overwhelm another plant. If you're growing Genovese basil (the most popular), note that it does tend to sprawl as it gets bigger, with the stems unable to fully support their own weight. Rosemary is a slow grower, and performs poorly when crowded out by other plants. I know the temptation to combine herbs is strong because of how herb boxes are often represented, but for practical use and best plant health, you should simply get smaller dedicated pots for each herb.

If you're making your own containers, be conscious of the safety issues with PVC and other plastics. If you want to be meticulous, don't use five gallon buckets from hardware stores - they're not food safe, and contain potentially harmful dyes and mold release agents. Use copper pipes or HDPE piping meant for potable water for your irrigation set up.

Be sure to give your tomato plants a calcium and magnesium source. Prominent sources on the internet recommend dolomitic lime, though its not clear if the pH altering effects of this addition are relevant. Regardless, those sources have seen incredible success - so perhaps its best to just imitate at first.

A holesaw kit for your powerdrill will make your life much, much easier.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 12:55AM
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Yes you are overplanting I ahve done the same I get to the store and want to grow it all so i get every plant lol. Go with a cherry tomato in a 20-30 gal container with a tomato cage for support and like the above poster said give them good cal+mag. when you mix your soil use alot of perlite. otherwise sounds good.cilantro is my fav herb.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 1:55AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I can pretty easily split up the herbs. Are there any herbs that would be good in hanging baskets?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 1:36PM
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