Growing veg in containers

by Kate Bradbury

The Gardeners' World Grow Yourself Healthy campaign is all about growing your own fruit and veg - no matter how much space or experience you have.

French beans growing with flowerThe Gardeners' World Grow Yourself Healthy campaign is all about growing your own fruit and veg - no matter how much space or experience you have. So it's great that one of the five growing plans supplied is dedicated to growing in containers. My garden is tiny and my soil shallow, so I'm growing dwarf French beans and spinach in pots.

As well as being small, with shallow soil, my garden is shady, but it gets two hours of strong sun in the afternoon, which I hope will be enough for French beans. Beans are frost-tender, so it's important to give them protection if sowing them now, and they don't like having their roots disturbed when being transplanted. So, rather than sow indoors now to transplant later, I've just sown them direct in a deep, 50cm diameter pot, which I've moved into my flat. Once the plants have a few 'true leaves' and all risk of frost has passed, I'll harden them off before moving the pot into its permanent spot in the sunniest part of the garden.

Beans are also heavy feeders, so I half-filled the pot with rich, home-made compost and topped up with peat-free multi-purpose. When the roots reach the bottom half of the pot they'll get an extra boost of nutrients from the compost - hopefully around the same time as the plants start to flower.

The spinach I'm growing in troughs as a salad crop, as you need to grow buckets of it for cooking and I don't have the space. Spinach is also prone to leaf miner fly, which bores holes into the leaves and lays eggs, so picking the leaves young avoids ending up with a salad full of grubs.

So far, I've just two pots of bare soil - one decorated with a wigwam of pea sticks - but it won't be long before shoots start to emerge. Adam Pasco and I will be blogging again about the progress of our crops throughout the Grow Yourself Healthy campaign, and reporting back on the season's successes in the final installment in September.

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Gardeners' World Web User 15/04/2011 at 09:22

My spinach in pots has two long leaves each at the moment. Any tips for what to do next?

Gardeners' World Web User 15/04/2011 at 11:17

I have bought a organic grow bag and I have cut x holes in the top and planted lettuce and herbs. I have tomatoe plants waiting to go in when the weather is warmer. I have also planted herbs and strawberries in a planter. I am going to try to remember to water them each day but I usually end up with half a dozen tiny strawberries and about 3 tomatoes per plant. I even manage to kill off the herbs however, chives is my 1 success. Any tips? If I am able to be slightly more successful I might venture to introduce another veg next year :)

Gardeners' World Web User 15/04/2011 at 11:45

Remember to place the grow bag in a sunny area and do need water them every day especially in the summer. Agree - Chieves are easy to grow and they can last for years.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/04/2011 at 17:27

I've got my broad beans in pots this year. I have grown tomatoes & cucumbers in pots as well as spring onions & salad leaves. I grew potatoes in bags last year & have got some on the go this year too. I have strawberries in a hanging basket & in pots too. Last year we were picking the strawberries every day throughout the summer. They were lovely. Coz my garden is small I try to make use of every available space. It is filled with pots. My husband & kids always take the mick out of me for having so many pots :) (mind, they all enjoy the produce that comes from them) Ramblingange, make sure you use good compost, especially if you are growing stuff in pots & make sure they gat watered even if it has been raining. IWhen I've planted my veg in my pots I water them then mulch them to keep the moisture in. Seems to work for me.Good luck with your strawberries & veg. I grow herbs in numerous pots & my chives were bought in Asda & I planted them in betweed the paving slabs.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/04/2011 at 23:37

I've not grown veg before but this year my wife who hasn't had any interest in gardening before decided that she would have a go! I have built her two raised beds out of wood offcuts from other projects around the garden. So far she has peas, carrots and spring onions planted. It will be interesting to see how she gets on with it. I have suggested to her that if she enjoys it she can takeover our front garden and design and plant it as she wants! Cheers Higgy

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