Who wouldn’t want fresh, free, organic, delicious fruits and vegetables growing in their garden? Hello Friends! In today’s post, we will list out the 10 secrets of growing vegetables and fruits in containers in a small space gardening like your balcony or terrace. Lastly! one very special bonus tip for you.
Growing Vegetables and fruit trees in containers is an excellent option for folks living in urban areas. Urban Gardening especially Organic gardening is on the rise. This is mainly due to awareness in people about the hazards of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. So all of us want to consume fresh and organic vegetables and fruits. Here are 10 secrets and easy steps to accomplish this task and grow your own fruits and vegetables in containers or small spaces in your homes.
10. Choose the Right Location for Proper Sunlight: Most of the vegetables and fruits need a full day of direct sunlight for flowering and fruiting. Choose a location on your terrace or balcony that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.
9. Choose the Right Containers: Choose the largest possible containers for growing fruits trees. Yes you can grow fruit trees in containers atleast 18 inch in depth and width. If you are growing on terrace or balcony, you can choose fabric bags of atleast 18 inches for fruit trees and 12 to 15 inches for growing vegetables like egg plant, tomatoes and others. These Fabric bags use the principle of AIR PRUNING which helps grow larger plants in smaller containers. You can read my detailed post explaining Air pruning.
8. Plan before you Plant: For vegetables sowing the right seeds in the right season is most important for a perfect harvest. So just google a reliable website which shows which seeds to sow in which season. And This depends on the zone you live in.
For growing fruit trees, You have to bring in a live plant from a nursery. Remember to choose dwarf or semi-dwarf variety of any fruit tree you choose to grow. The most easiest to grow trees are lemon, orange, chickoo, guava, custard apples, pomegranate and so on.
7. Check Drainage holes of containers. Try to have multiple drainage holes if possible. If they are blocked, this can result in root rot. Try to keep a small piece of net or a cloth at the bottom, so that the dirt doesn’t get out of the holes and spoil your balcony or terrace.
6. POTTING SOIL: This is one of the most important factor that determines the growth and yield of the plant. Make sure you use atleast 50 percent garden soil for planting fruit trees. This is important for anchorage, else the plant may fall off due to strong wind or stuff like that. Apart from adding about 30 percent compost like decomposed cow-dung or horse-dung, vermicompost or even leaf compost, you must include the most important stuff for inducing heavy flowering – That’s the bone meal powder and for vegans the substitute of bone meal is the soya bean meal. Make sure you add one or two handfuls of steamed bone meal powder in your potting mix. Please check out a detailed post on the formula to make the best potting soil.
5. POLLINATORS: Flowers will not be converted to fruits unless there is pollination and fertilization. Encourage beneficial insects and pollinators like honey bees and butterflies in your garden. And another important point is try to avoid spraying pesticides or sprinkling pest control powders on the flowers. This may harm these insects.
4. FERTILIZERS: As a part of Organic gardening, we always recommend natural fertilizers. If you have taken the time and efforts to prepare the best potting mix, 80 percent of the job is done. You only have to add a handful of compost like cowdung or vermicompost once in 15 days into each container preferably after raking or tilling the top soil. You don’t need to add anything else until you harvest.
3. PEST CONTROL: This can be easily controlled by spraying neem oil and a liquid soap mix. About 5 ml neem oil per litre of water when the plants are still young and small of less than a feet. And about 10ml neem oil per liter of water along with 10 drops of liquid soap for larger plants and the frequency of application can be once in 10 to 15 days, even if there are no pests. If you see lot of slugs and snails or caterpillars eating your leaves, you can sprinkle Diatomaceous earth powder once in 15 days. This DE powder is again 100% organic.
2. Plant Support: For vegetables like tomatoes, they require good support system to stand. If you can afford some garden trellis, its fine else you can just use some sticks to support these plants. For climbers you can use net support or even tie them to some ropes and wires for support.
1. Watering: This is another most important factor. Remember! you keep these containers in full direct sunlight and hence daily watering is the general rule for most vegetables and fruits specially in summer season. But the best way is to use the finger dip method to check whether the soil is dry before watering. Or if you see the leaves starting to wilt, then immediately water. Water them thoroughly until there is water coming out of the drainage holes. Two Additional Steps are optionally required – like repotting them in a little larger container if they become root bound like once in 2 years. And also Pruning or trimming the branches after the fruiting season is over.
Now, the Bonus Tip: Have you heard of THINNING SEEDLINGS? Well, when you randomly sow seeds without spacing, you may get overcrowded seedlings and a heavy competition for nutrients and the Survival of fittest theory of Charles Darwin applies here. At this stage if you do not take action all seedlings may become weak competing with one another for nutrients. So, Thinning of seedlings has to be done, meaning you have to pull out some of the closest ones and even discard some weak looking ones for proper growth of the other seedlings.