Creating a vegetable garden is an awesome endeavor and can be super rewarding nutritionally, mentally, and emotionally. The best part is that your are about to begin growing your own delicious veggies the difficult part is that you’ve got some decisions to make. Container vegetable gardening for beginners can be a scary thing to start, however it doesn’t have to be. Once you get a grasp of some of the basic ideas and the right starting place the rest becomes relaxing, tranquil work. So here are some things to think about before you start your gardening journey.
Picking A Container
The size, shape, and design of your garden container are going to be some f the first deciding factors your choose when beginning a new container vegetable garden. The size and shape of your container will have a large impact on the varieties of vegetables your can grow. I like to break containers into 4 main categories: small 8-10 inches, medium 12-14 inches, large 16-18 inches, and extra-large at 20-24 inches.
- Small – (8″-10″): chives, lettuce, radishes, other salad greens, basil, coriander
- Medium – (12″-14″): bush beans, collards, garlic, spinach, kohlrabi, onions, Asian greens, peas, mint, thyme
- Large – (16″-18″): pole beans, cauliflower, carrots, chard, small eggplant, fennel, leeks, peppers, spinach, parsley, rosemary
- Extra – (20″-14″): Large beets, cucumber, broccoli, artichoke, okra, potatoes, sweet corn, summer squash, dill, lemongrass
As your increase the size of your pot your create more room for the root system of your vegetables. This increase in spaces allows for the growth of some larger scale vegetables.
Self watering containers tend to allow your to grow a healthy plant in a pot than is one size lower than suggested which makes them a perfect choice for anyone with limited space like myself. Beyond that it becomes a choice of style.
There are a number of different styles of pots all with specific advantages and disadvantages. You can see My Top 5 Containers Here with reasons and explinations for each pick.
Picking a Location
The location of your container is going to strongly impact the type of vegetables your can grow. It will affect your garden so strongly because location will dictate the temperature, light duration, light strength, and air flow than your plants will receive.
- Certain vegetables cannot thrive in temperatures than are too hot or cold. These shifts in temperature can be as small as 10-15 degrees between optimal growth and stunted growth so knowing your overall temperature range for a given location is important.
- Many vegetables need as much as 17 hours of sunlight per day in order to grow and develop at their optimal rate. For the most part vegetables are broken down into three main groups.
- Short Day Plants – These are plants than need less than half a day (12 Hours) of light to thrive. These tend to be the more cold hardy plants as well due to shorter day length corresponding with colder weather. There are fewer vegetables than thrive in this setting but a few are: sweet potatoes, soy beans, black-eyed peas, and mung beans.
- Long Day Plants – This is where most vegetables reside. These plants need between 14 and 18 hours of sunlight per day. These also tend to be warmer temperature plants as more sun means more heat. Some vegetables your might consider growing in a long day scenario are: artichoke, lettuce, beets, onions, carrots, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, and turnips.
- Day Neutral Plants – These plants aren’t bothered by long or short days. As long as they are getting a minimum of 10 hours of light per day they will grow just fine. Some even say your can grow day neutral plants under a 24-hour light setting but i have seen mixed results with this method. There are many day neutral vegetables which will thrive in a container setting like: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, kale, and tomatoes.
- Depending on where your live and the availability of direct sunlight your may need to supplement your container garden with artificial grow lights.
- While most plants do not need an excessive or regulated amount of airflow to thrive there is the need for circulation.
- Air flow will help prevent the build up and development of mold on the potting media
- It will also help reduce the amount of garden pests that can live in and on your plants.
Picking Your Vegetables
When you have narrowed your possibilities due to light availability and container size you are now ready to begin choosing the plants you can grow. Depending one the size of the container you are using you may consider growing two or more companion plants together in one pot. Some plants actually grow and develop more rapidly when paired with complimentary species. These plants generally share commonalities such as the amount of water needed, the duration and intensity of light, and optimal temperature.
- Carrots, beans, and squash
- Eggplants and beans
- Tomatoes, basil, and onions (Salsa)
- Lettuce and herbs
- Spinach, chard, and onions
Be aware that while some plants thrive together there are combinations that will delay deveolopment and stunt growth of the plants. These combinations generally have conflicting nutrient needs and ofhter unfortunate interactions. it is best to keep these plants seperate.
Combinations to Avoid:
- Beans with onions and garlic
- Carrots with dill or fennel
- Tomatoes or squash with potatoes
- Onions with beans and peas
Some of the best veggies to start your garden with are tomatoes, basil, cucumbers lettuce onion, squash, radish and carrots are great quick growing plants that are extremely satisfying to watch quickly develop.
I would personally suggest starting with an herb combo of some sort. The herb section will grow quickly and provide a satisfying harvest that will rejuvenate your gardening spirit as you await your larger veggies.
Some other great plants that are super satisfying to grow are peppers, eggplants, summer squash, green beans, and lettuce.
Please leave me a comment below if:
- you have any experience with any of these products
- you agree or disagree with any of my recommendations
- you know of any superior products that I should try out next
- you have any extra information you would like to share with the Apartment Growers Community