Spring Vegetable Planters

Spring is the perfect time of year to start a container vegetable garden, the weather is looking better, and when it comes to planting options you’re spoilt for choice.

If this is your first attempt at a small space garden, you don’t need much to set yourself up for some fantastic results and a lush, bountiful garden come summer-time.

To get started all you need are some robust and reliable vegetable planter boxes, potting mix, and some seedlings.

Cafe Planter Glowpear

A sturdy vessel

When choosing your vegetable pots, be sure to choose something with enough depth for root growth.  Vegetables, unlike some ornamental plants, need plenty of space for the roots to become established.  A depth of 18-24cm is ideal for the roots to access water and nutrients in the soil.

If you are considering very large planter boxes, be sure that you carefully choose their position before getting started, as they will be heavy and difficult to move once filled with soil and water.  Smaller planters, are easily moved around a small space to chase the sun between seasons, but often don’t offer enough soil volume to grow vegetables.

Self watering planters or wicking-bed planters, are a fantastic choice to optimise vegetable growth.  These planters incorporate a water reservoir in the base of the pot, and allow moisture to be continuously drawn up to the root zone.  This means that the plants determine how much or how little water they receive.  As the name suggests, the obvious bonus of self watering planters is that they will sustain you plants for several days or even weeks without your attention.  So if you travel regularly, or only see your garden on the weekend, then they are the perfect option.

The only other consideration, when choosing a garden planter, is drainage.  Vegetable planters must have good drainage to allow water to pass through the open structure of the potting mix.  It is crucial, to plant health, that water is not permitted to pool in the root zone.  Pots and planters must have drainage holes in the base, and not be left sitting in saucers of water.  This flooding of the roots will actually drown the plants.

The ground work

A good quality, organic potting mix is the key to setting up your vegetable boxes for some serious growth.  Quality potting mix is made up of a blend of organic compost matter, fine bark pieces to add structure and ensure good drainage, and slow release organic fertiliser.  

You can extend the life of your container soil by adding extra structure in the form of Perlite, and by periodically using liquid fertiliser.  For more information on achieving and maintaining soil health check out this blog post:

Get Green

When it comes to planting vegetables in spring, the options are endless, but here are a few tips on how to narrow it down:

Vegetable Boxes Glowpear

1.  Choose vegetables that you like to eat!

Sounds silly when you say it out loud, but so often I see people growing Chillies when they hate spicy food, or Okra without a clue of what to do with it.  Eating your own food is so rewarding and one of the best parts of growing your own vegetables at home.

2.  Choose options that match your space and aspect

If you only have 2 square feet of garden space, plants like pumpkins, melons, or zucchinis and other large vegetable can end up a little disappointing when you realise you can fit 2 plants in total, and only get enough produce for a meal every other week.  These types of vegetables are also very hungry when it comes to sunlight, and need 4-6 hours of full sun a day to produce ripe fruit.

If your area is partially shaded, or your space is on the modest side, there are still heaps of rewarding vegetable options.  When choosing seedlings, a quick glance at the back of the label will tell you how much space and how much sunlight the plant needs.

3.  Get creative

Growing vegetables doesn’t have to be black and white.  Mixing vegetable with ornamental or flowering plants is heaps of fun, and can add colour and texture to your outdoor space.  To top it off, many plant varieties have edible flowers, that will grow very happily along side your veggies, and share the dinner plate too.

 

Spring inspiration

Here are some of my favourite spring veggie options for small space and container gardening:

Lettuce Glowpear

Lettuce

There are so many varieties of lettuce available in spring, and they all have one thing in common… they’re great for container gardens and planter boxes.  Lettuces varieties are almost all fast growing, don’t require a lot of space or long daylight hours, and can be harvested leaf by leaf as you’re ready to eat them, meaning the freshest, crisp gardens salads for spring and summer. 

 
Beans Glowpear

Green Beans

Dwarf or Bush beans are non climbing varieties that are perfect for vegetable boxes.  The plants can be nestled together, as close as 7-8cm, and are super high yielding.  Within 8-10 weeks you can expect masses of crisp, shiny beans ready for the dinner table.

 
Spring Onions Glowpear

Spring Onions

Another high yielding option, that can be planted close together.  Spring Onions, can be harvested by cutting them off at ground level as you need them.  The cut stalks will soon shoot up again and will continue to produce crop after crop.

 
Nasturtium Glowpear

Nasturtiums

Ok. So not a vegetable, but nasturtiums are so much fun to have in planters.  They are super quick growing, and produce masses of brightly coloured flowers which are edible.  In fact the leaves are too.  Both young leaves and flowers add a delicate sweet flavour and pepperiness to salads.

 

Small space gardening at home

Get gardening with patio, courtyard and balcony planters

For many, turning a small balcony, patio or courtyard into a lush, green oasis can feel daunting... especially if you have the familiar history of failed pot plants or wilted window herbs haunting you. 

Aside from a shear lack of area and the need to keep your space neat and tidy for when its time to entertain real live people, there are legitimate obstacles that can make small space gardening feel tricky.  Allowing enough volume of soil and water to adequately grow healthy plants is a real challenge, not to mention keeping on top of the watering! Then you have drainage conundrums, portability issues, heat, cold, land-lords, pets, pests, kids!!!

 

Balcony pots

Balconies are the tightest possible position for planters. They require clever space management to make sure they remain functional, and looking great with interesting balcony specific pots and planters.

Having a system of planters that fit to any small balcony space, with modular sizing,  sleek aesthetics and 'set and forget' watering technology, will make your life easier.  That way your balcony will remain well managed spatially, and available for all the other essentials like entertaining, BBQs, and the odd shut eye on lazy Sundays (hammock style).

Got a million dollar view? You don't want to obstruct that advantage. Raised planters are ideal to make sure you can enjoy the greenery, as well as the scenery. If they are raised, planters can also second as a storage area for any peripheral object you may have lying around. Think garden tools, spare beers from an impromptu BBQ, or the odd Tonka truck from the kids.

 

Courtyard + patio planters

Courtyards can be the most beautiful outdoors spaces, often the best example of stylish indoor and outdoor living. With more room than balconies, courtyards often offer a mixture of shade and light at ground level. This means that you have the option to create cool climate temperate zones, or flourishing, sun drenched garden beds.

Self watering garden beds create no fuss options in a courtyard context. They cater for a range of spatial arrangements, meaning you can enjoy the courtyard you create, rather than worrying whether your plants will survive.  Hedges, screens, centre pieces or scattered garden beds can be used to create private zones, open plan entertaining areas and relaxation havens.

For these larger spaces, it may be necessary to interconnect your planters. We can recommend how to do this, whether it be manual, or connected to your water source.

 

Balconies, patios and courtyards

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At the end of the day, with tight spaces on a balcony, patio or courtyard, you need to plan. I recommend our friend Indira Naidoo, and her fantastic book The Edible Balcony to help you out here. Whether it's a Romeo and Juliet bi-folding window in Toorak, or a rooftop deck spanning retail below in Newtown, self contained, compact planters that look good are a winner no matter what the context.

 

Want to keep reading? Here's what's coming up next ...

Soil Health in Container Gardens (4 part series)

Welcome to Lloyd the Farmer's Mail

Welcome to Lloyd the Farmer's Mail, where our gardening guru Lloyd will do his best to post gardening tips and plant-based musings to try and help our rapidly expanding Glowpear family get the best out of their Gardens. 

Please let Lloyd know if there are particular topics you would like to see covered here, and we will endeavour to keep it all relevant and interesting. 

You can get him at at info@glowpear.com.au

We look forward to talking!