Inch by Inch: How to decide when it’s time to garden in pots

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Last year, I decided to incorporate my garden in our landscaping. It was a great idea in theory.

Our side yard was a barren patch of dirt after we removed an overgrown perennial garden. I planted four tomato plants — romas, pear tomatoes, beefsteak and cherry tomatoes.

At the height of summer, the plants were flourishing. But I soon realized while there were plenty of tomatoes, they were staying green way too long.

Turns out, the side yard, between the house and the two-story garage, just didn’t get enough sun, especially as we got into late summer. Tomatoes do best when they receive about eight hours of light.

This year we’re changing things up. Our raised beds will be home to beans, lettuces and root veggies while our high sun veggies will reside in pots that we can then move around the yard.

According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, containers are a great way to grow vegetables when space or sun is limited.

Photo by Natalie Feulner

Heirloom tomatoes at the Bangor Farmer’s Market. Photo by Natalie Feulner

The extension folks recommend selecting containers that have at least one drainage hole at the bottom and are filled with garden soil or potting mix.

One thing to keep in mind is that plants in containers dry out more quickly than plants on the ground, so watering regularly is key.

Spacing is also important. This bulletin from the extension offers a look at space requirements of several popular vegetables.

For example, tomatoes should be placed one per 5-gallon bucket and certain varieties like roma, husky red and patio, do better than others. Sweet peppers on the other hand, are perfectly fine in smaller containers such as 2-gallon pots.

Do you do any container gardening? What has your experience been, are there plants that do better in pots than others?

Natalie Feulner

About Natalie Feulner

Natalie Feulner is a journalist and “semi-crunchy” cloth diapering momma to a rambunctious toddler named after a county in California. She drinks too much tea and loves to climb rocks but not at the same time.