6 Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Vegetables in a Container

With premium outdoor spaces, we are increasingly growing edible products in pots, ranging from tomatoes and re-cut salads to peppers, herbs and even potatoes.

As allocation queues continue to grow and more people live in urban housing with limited outdoor access, there is a growing interest in container cultivation.

Herbs can also bloom in containers placed on the balcony (Nigel Bending / PA)

But if your efforts to grow vegetables in pots have resulted in a bad harvest or gentle flavors, and you think it’s not worth the time, think again because with a little forethought, you can really make your little space abundant, says the soil researcher. nutritional horticultural expert Dr. Nigel Bending.

“Container cultivation needs to be carefully thought through to be successful and what and how we can grow it needs to be considered,” says Bending, creator of Ergrownomics (ergrownomics.co.uk), a compact growing system that increases the amount of vegetables in a small space can also be produced from herbs.

Here, experts outline some of the common mistakes people make when growing in containers – and how to fix them…

1. It does not deepen the planters

Make sure vegetables have a place to grow (Nigel Bending / PA)

Bending recommends that the depth of the seed drills be at least 250 mm – preferably 350 mm – so that we can grow the widest range of plants, including carrots and tomatoes. The deeper soil will be cooler, which can help prevent the leafy plants from twisting (running to the seed) and the root plants from developing.

2. Allow to dry

Container plants are more prone to dehydration than those grown in the ground, especially if the pots are small and therefore less soil or compost to retain moisture. RHS advises gardeners to ensure a regular water supply to avoid floods and droughts.

3. Allow invasive herbs to dominate

Growing mint in own pots (iStock / PA)

When growing herbs in pots, be sure to discard invasive varieties, such as mint, separately from the others. Mint should be grown alone, in its own pots, or if you want to plant it with other herbs, close it in its own pot in a mixed arrangement. Thus, the roots do not suppress other less powerful herbs and do not take over.

4. Don’t consider planting flowers with plants

Nasturium is a great addition to vegetable pots (iStock / PA)

The containers in which you plant vegetables can be very beautiful if you mix them with flowers and it can result in a richer crop. For example, sweet corn plants can be grown in groups in a large container because their pollination depends on the wind. But you can plant them with nasturtium, which is a spicy addition to salads, says Christine Walkden, a TV and radio horticultural expert in her book No-nonsense Container Gardening (Simon & Schuster).

In my experience, planting climbing beans with sweet peas will not only give you a nicer look, but also a better bean yield, as pollinating insects will be attracted to sweet pea flowers and bean flowers, respectively.

5. Bad spacing

Kale grows in its place in pots (iStock / PA)

Placing the cabbage too close together in the container can have a detrimental effect on the crop. Walkden advises gardeners to sow or buy terraced or containerized cabbage developed specifically for plant breeders.

You may be better off growing only a beautiful, dense cabbage head in a classic terracotta pot. Other cabbages include calabrese or green sprouting broccoli, which grows rapidly and produces seeds 80-90 days after sowing in a direct container.

The compact varieties recommended by Bending include ‘Tom Thumb’ peas, which produce full-sized pods and are only 25 cm tall, striped ‘Piccolo’ zucchini, yellow ‘Summer Ball’ zucchini and ‘Pot Black’ mini eggplant. You can also harvest the plants as “baby leaves” before they reach full size. Avoid things like cauliflower, which should be planted 60 cm apart. 6. Try to grow the same plants in the same compost

Again, I learned from a bitter experience that if you grow a fast-growing plant such as lettuce or other lettuce leaves, you can then grow something else in the same compost after removing the old crop debris. – just not the same crop.

So don’t follow the salad with the salad because it just won’t grow well, but plant something like dwarf beans or spring onions if you want to save during the growing season. But don’t reuse tank compost for more than a season because by then it will be nutrient-free.


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