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Top Tips for Using Planters to Grow Vegetables

01st March 2017

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If you would like to cultivate fresh fruit and vegetables, but have to contend with poor soil, a modest-sized garden or perhaps only a balcony, then containers and planters are an ideal solution. GardenSite have noticed a rise in their popularity over recent years – here is their guide to achieving impressive results.

Types of planters

As gardens increasingly shrink in size, it’s no wonder people are turning to containers to cultivate fresh produce, especially as both timber and stone planters blend so well into the landscape. The simplest versions to use are window boxes – basic ones needn’t be anything more than robust containers filled with compost and soil. However, for the garden you might want something more aesthetically pleasing, so manufacturers offer a variety of styles. With modern methods – normally dip or pressure treatments – timber planters are guaranteed to last for many years with little maintenance necessary. However, we recommend placing a fabric liner between the soil and the wooden sides, and many now come with that as standard.

There is a wide choice of square and rectangular planters which are raised off the ground with sturdy legs. These come in various shapes, with some resembling half barrels and troughs. Whatever the configuration, they should be deep enough to encourage healthy root development. One major advantage of these raised planters is that they are easily accessible, particularly if you are disabled or have difficulty bending down. Another key feature is that they can be moved to sheltered, sunny positions to access the most favourable conditions. There are a number of other types that are ornamental as well as productive, featuring several tiers which are attractively designed for confined spaces, with a series of compartments on different levels.

Basic rules for container cultivation

Any container should have a growing medium which offers good moisture retention, but won’t become waterlogged. Compost that is soil-based with added loam, organic matter and water-retentive granules should prove very productive.

Simple rules for vegetable growing should be followed – pay attention to the unique conditions needed by individual edibles. Some may need a particular pH level or rich soil – it is easy to satisfy these requirements in a planter. However, remember that nutrients are easily lost, and should be replaced by a slow-release fertiliser or weekly liquid feed, such as seaweed or manure, during the growing season. Rainfall cannot be relied on to keep a container moist – during the summer you must water daily, preferably recycling rainwater from a butt. If for any reason this is not possible, use an automatic system such as the ones marketed by Hozelock, which can be accurately controlled by the hour and day. These are especially useful when you go on holiday or are away from home for any amount of time.

You can grow many vegetables successfully – lettuce, onions, beetroot, salad leaves, bush tomatoes – the list is long and varied. If you intersperse these crops with flowers such as marigolds, the display can be tremendously attractive, and will entice beneficial insects. Fruits such as currants, gooseberries and strawberries will result in excellent harvests, and even apples and pears can be yielded from dwarfing rootstocks.

With container growing, fresh produce can literally be on your doorstep, there’s no need for a trip to the shops to buy aged fruit and vegetables that have lost most of their taste and goodness. A planter positioned next to your kitchen will supply seasonal crops that can be harvested, cooked and eaten in minutes.

GardenSite have a large variety of planters, containers, grow your own beds and pots available online to suit a range of outdoor spaces and any purpose. Browse their range at gardensite.co.uk and happy potting!

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