Monday, May 21, 2012

Gardening In Pots

It is time to put in the summer garden here at Whispers From Elizabeth.  Having a long growing season means I can take my time putting in the vegetables and still get good results.  Since our area usually doesn’t get first frost until mid-October, we still have a good five months left in the growing season.  Today, I put in the sweet potatoes.  I really don’t have the room in my garden to grow sweet potatoes, but that doesn’t bother me!  I grow them in in pots.  Yes, you can really grow sweet potatoes in pots! In fact, lots of vegetables will be quite happy growing in pots.  I have successfully grown all the following vegetables in pots:
  • Tomatoes
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Peanuts
  • All kinds of herbs
You may be thinking, “Purchasing pots for all those vegetables can be expensive.”  Not at all.  You can get pots for free, I usually pick up some every year and it saves a ton of money.  All you have to do is go to the grocery store and ask someone in the bakery department if they have any buckets they are throwing out.  Every time I have asked, the store employee has taken the time to go and look.  If they don’t have any available, they tell me when they usually have extra buckets (Thursdays and Fridays in my area). Some stores will even hold them for you or call you when they have them available.

Wash the buckets out and they are ready to use.  It is important to use food grade buckets so the plants don’t pick up any chemicals that may have been used in making non-food grade buckets.  Don’t forget to put some holes in the bottom.  I usually don’t drill the holes, because I think it is a pain to get the drill out.  I drive a nail into the bottom of the bucket.  Once I have a good size nail  hole, I open it up a bit more with a screw driver.   Here is one I did last year.

If you plant potatoes or sweet potatoes in the buckets, add some sand to the potting soil. I get great results using potting soil with fertilizer added.  No need to fertilize potatoes again during the season, they don’t need a lot of fertilizer. Sweet potatoes will need some extra fertilizer a little later in the season.  For the sand, I use regular sand box sand from the big box stores. I shoot for a ratio of 60% potting soil and 40% sand.  I don’t measure, just eyeball it.  It is not necessary to get the exact ratio; you just want the soil to drain quickly so the potatoes don’t rot.  This is what mine looked like.

There is about two inches of soil in the bottom of the bucket.  Then I added a couple of handfulls of sand as seen here. 
Mix well and add to the pot.  I mix mine in small batches, pour it into the bucket, and mix more.  Sweet potatoes need about 12 inches of soil.  The small yellow bucket shown below is 11 inches tall (a three gallon bucket).  I also get great results using five gallon buckets with about 13 inches of soil in them.

I plan to put them along the fence where the vines can grow but won’t overtake my small yard.

No need to purchase new potting soil every year. You can definitely reuse the potting soil.  It will just need a bit of fertilizer next year.  And, there you have it - a garden in a pot!  I will show you how to plant tomatoes in a pot next.

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