5 Food crops that can be grown year-round in container gardens

Even though city dwellers lack the land for growing a garden, they can still grow food crops for sustenance – thanks to container or bucket gardening. All they need is a good container and a sunny deck or balcony for year-round crops. Growing crops at home also produces harvests far superior in freshness, flavor and nutrition than store-brought produce.

Compared to actual outdoor gardening, container gardening eliminates or minimizes many issues that come with the practice. Plants are protected from human and animal damage, weeds and intense weather. (Related: Gardening 101: 10 crops you can grow in buckets throughout the year.)

Here are four crops that can be grown in containers all year round.

Basil

Sweet basil grown in containers indoors can just be as good as basil plants that are grown outdoors. Basil emerges from its seed in seven to 10 days and can get up to a foot tall. It needs at least six hours of full sun per day. This herb also likes to stay moist, so it is best to water it early in the morning.

Carrots

This popular root vegetable is easy and fun to grow in containers, window boxes and planters in the smallest of spaces, as well as on balconies and in some sunshine. With a little planning, carrots can be planted in succession for a non-stop harvest from early summer through late fall. Stone-free soil is ideal for growing carrots in containers so the roots can grow straight and fork-free.

Chamomile

Low-maintenance chamomile grows happily indoors in any type of container, and only requires four hours of light daily. Moist soil will allow chamomile seeds to sprout in about two weeks, and the plants can be harvested for tea after 60 to 90 days. Aside from making a calming brew, chamomile is also a natural insecticide.

Garlic

A staple in the kitchen, garlic can be easily grown in pots with little maintenance. Planting three or four cloves in a pot filled with soil and situating the pot on a sunny window ledge will produce garlic greens in seven to 10 days. Growing whole garlic bulbs will require a longer period of time, about eight to nine months.

Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes or the dwarf or patio varieties are perfectly suited to container gardening, with a single plant able to produce a reliable crop of bite-sized fruits from early summer until fall. They also grow best in well-draining containers and pots – one plant per pot because they can grow big and bushy. They require six to eight hours per day of sunlight.

Container gardening tips

Any container that can hold soil can be used for container gardens. However, containers must have adequate airflow, contain good drainage holes in the bottom and come in manageable sizes.

Neophytes are advised to start small so they don’t get overwhelmed with taking care of a lot of plants. When considering plants to put in the container garden, it is best to find out what the family loves to eat and how likely can these food crops be preserved or given away to neighbors.

As plants grow, they often become top-heavy, making them vulnerable to tipping over in strong winds. Containers are best positioned in sheltered locations or secured with cinder blocks, stones or twine to prevent them from tipping over.

Container sizes also play a role in gardening. Larger ones will be heavier and more difficult to move, especially in a balcony. Smaller containers, meanwhile, tend to dry out faster so extra attention is required.

HomeGardeningNews.com has more stories about container gardening for city dwellers.

Watch this video that teaches how to successfully grow lemon trees in a container.

source : Olivia Cook

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