Thursday, April 28, 2016

Growing Veggies for Your Dog, Part 4: Container Gardening

If you don't have a yard or a suitable planting location in your yard, you can utilize a patio, balcony, or even a sunny window for container gardening. The great thing about container gardening is that it's easy to control the soil conditions, sunlight, and water to provide the ideal growing conditions for your veggie plants.

Some seed companies mark their seed packets for whether they are suitable for growing in containers. I think Burpee seeds are especially great for beginner gardeners because the information on the seed packet is easy to comprehend, and it tells you when to plant in your region. Plus, they are sold at many stores - even in our local supermarket!

The little potted plant checkmark icon on the bottom right of each seed packet indicates suitability for container gardening

Armed with your seeds, grab some containers and potting soil, and you're good to go! Nearly any durable container can be used for gardening, but keep in mind that for a plant to grow nice and big, it needs enough space to spread its roots. Drainage is also important to prevent overwatering, so look for pots with drainage holes, or use materials where you can drill your own. Another alternative is to line the bottom of the pot with a few layers of gravel/pebbles to allow water to collect below the soil, or get those "self-watering planters" that have a reservoir space at the bottom.

There are also special containers for putting on railings, if you want to save floor space.

Railing planters with nasturtiums

And, there are "grow bags" that you can fold up for storage when you don't need them anymore.

Grow bags with young tomato plants
[[Tomato leaves & stems (and unripe tomatoes, to a lesser extent) are poisonous to dogs!!]]

The Big Bag Bed is a giant grow bag that is like an instant raised bed you can place anywhere you want.

Big Bag Bed Jr. with young zucchini plants

In my opinion, parsley, lettuce and spinach are the easiest dog-friendly vegetables/herbs to plant in pots. They are relatively small plants, so they don't require much space, and they don't require a ton of nutrients, either.

Broccoli and kale need more space and fertile soil to grow well, but they can also be great container plants.

Special considerations for container gardening:

Be sure to place potted plants out of reach of your pets, or train your pets to leave the containers alone. Not only is there a potential for a big dirt mess if they knock them over or dig in them, some potting mixes contain substances that should not be ingested. If that is a serious concern, there are "pet-safe" products available, such as the Dr. Earth line of organic soils and fertilizers.

For indoor growing, I would recommend purchasing started plants from a garden center instead of growing from seed. This is because sunlight through a window is typically not enough for a little seedling to develop strongly, resulting in tall, spindly plants that topple over.

Containers tend to dry out faster than the ground because there is less soil volume to retain water, so you may need to water more frequently.

Happy veggie gardening!

Back to advanced vegetables
Back to intermediate vegetables
Back to easy vegetables

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely LOVE this post!! Approx 2 yrs ago I did some container gardening on the balcony of our condo (we are on 2nd floor)........I grew lettuce (which grew the best for me), tomatoes and I think green beans? Can't remember. I LOVE your tips and will refer to this for this season. I love the idea of the planters that attach to the railing. So clever! Thank you for this informative and great post! DakotasDen