If you live in an apartment building or similar situation there’s no reason to rule out having a garden and growing your own vegetables.
Growing vegetables in pots is one way to save on your food bills while at the same time brightening up your living space.
There are two important aspects to growing vegetables in containers that need to be understood if your indoor garden is to be successful and provide you with a good supply of healthy organic vegetables.
Perhaps the most important requirement is figuring out the correct amount of water your indoor or balcony garden will need. Next, you need to make sure your plants aren’t left to starve. Plants in containers need to be fed!
It would be difficult to establish whether more indoor plants die from drying out or from over-watering. The best approach is to establish a watering regime and stick to it. Here’s what can happen if plants are not given the right amount of water:
If plants don’t get enough water their roots rise to the surface in search of moisture.
If they get too much water, on the other hand, the potting medium becomes soggy.
When plants are over-watered the small root hairs responsible for distributing the water to the plant soon rot and eventually die.
The amount of water your plants need will vary according to a number of factors such as humidity and room temperature, and the size and type of your container.
The type of growing medium you use will also affect the plant’s requirement for water. Cheap potting mix with a large proportion of sand will dry out more quickly than premium potting mix, so you will need to water this mix more frequently.
If you move your plants around to take advantage of sun and shade at different times of the year your established watering regime may need to change, but once you get to know your plants and their specific requirements the job of watering will become much easier.
Self-watering pots are popular and the great variety now available means they come in a wide range of prices. The pots have a water-well in the base which is filled through a tube. The potting soil sits inside a perforated hollow core and absorbs water from the well. The plant can then take as much water as it needs from the well, or just enough to keep the soil moist. When the well runs dry, you simply refill it through the tube.
Your plants are settled in their new containers, you’ve worked out the amount of water they need and are following a good routine. All’s well, but after a few weeks those juicy tomatoes don’t look to be doing so good. Their leaves have turned yellow and the fruit, well, it’s just not getting any bigger.
Here’s the problem. When you bought that expensive potting mix it was rich in plant food. The manufacturer made sure your plants would get just the right amount of nutrients. But like your well-stocked refrigerator, if the food supply isn’t replenished it will eventually run out and you’ll start to feel hungry.
The same goes for your plants. Regular feeding keeps your plants healthy and this is particularly important during the spring and summer months when growth is strong. But over-feeding will definitely have the opposite effect. Suddenly remembering that you need to feed the plants and giving them an extra heavy dose for good measure will be sure to kill them off. Never over-feed — use no more than the manufacturer’s recommended dose.
If you are lucky enough to have your own organic compost your indoor plants will love an occasional mulch of the well-rotted variety. Mix one part compost to two parts water, leave it to soak for a week and then apply it to plants when the soil is moist. This wonderful brew will give your plants enough nutrients for around six weeks to two months.
Janet Hall likes to promote organic gardening as a way of life. She believes that anyone can grow a good supply of food even with limited space. Visit her site to get started building your own organic garden, or take the free mini-course at Organic Garden Guide to learn more and discover many great resources.