Why Consider Growing Food in Containers?

The idea of growing your own food is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity, in part because of widespread worries over industrial farming practices, and also because of a widespread movement to get closer to nature in one way or another in our highly technological times. People with a large amount of land at their disposal could become, with plenty of effort, entirely self-sufficient when it comes to fruit and vegetables, while those with a smaller garden can set up a vegetable patch to cultivate at least some of their own food.

But what about people with no land to grow things on, can they still get the benefits of growing their own produce? The answer to this question comes in the form of 'container gardening'. This is simply the growing of plants in pots, window boxes, hanging baskets - anything which can provide drainage and soil for plants to grow in. This means that even the smallest balcony or even window ledge can be used to grow food.

Most people thing of flowers when they think of container plants, but edible plants are also eminently suitable. So what could you grow? While it's certainly possible to grow potatoes or root vegetables in containers if they are deep enough, for example an old trashcan, this isn't usually going to be the best use of limited space. Herbs are perfect for container growing, as most varieties flourish best in well drained soil and suffer in wet ground, and these conditions are easy to create in containers.

Strawberries, tomatoes, and other bushy food-providing plants are all at home in containers, although care will need to be taken to get the watering right - not too much, and certainly the pots must never be allowed to dry out completely.

One of the best candidates for container growing are leaves such as lettuce, rocket, or other salad leaves - these can even be grown as 'cut and come again' crops to provide a repeated harvest from a single plant.

Are there any advantages to container growing? Firstly, it's easier to keep a pot free of weeds than it is the open ground. It's also somewhat easier to keep pests such as slugs and snails at bay, especially in hanging baskets or window boxes. Soil conditions can be more easily tailored to each individual type of plant you're growing, and smaller containers can also be moved around the space available to take maximum advantage of such natural resources as sunlight and warmth-retaining walls.

Of course, people with limited space aren't going to be able to replace trips to the grocery shop, but container gardening allows most of us to enjoy the thrill of eating some self-produced food.