Growing Crops in Pots

one pot pledgeFresh salads, vegetables, herbs and fruits can look just as attractive when grown in pots as their ornamental counterparts, as well as providing a source of food.

Choosing your container

1) Always choose large containers, which can hold a generous quantity of compost. Small pots dry out quickly at the height of summer and don't produce such luscious crops.

2) Avoid plastic pots in windy sites, which blow over easily and damage the plants. Instead, choose colourful glazed or terracotta pots, ensuring they have a large drainage hole in the base.

3) After putting in a layer of gravel or broken-up polystyrene trays to improve drainage at the base, fill with compost. Any multi-purpose potting compost will do, including peat-free types, or one specifically formulated for patio pots.

4) To encourage better water retention, especially beneficial to many fruits and vegetables, it can be an advantage to thoroughly mix in water-retaining gel crystals. At the same time, add sufficient slow-release fertiliser granules to provide nutrients right through summer.

Growing tips and suggestions

1) Trailing tomatoes, peppers and green or golden courgettes can be grown in pots, as well as leafy salads, parsley, spring onions, mini-beetroot, sage, chives and many other vegetables and herbs.

2) Adding a wigwam of canes or a plant support frame to the pot allows you to include climbers, too, such as French and runner beans.

3) Many new gardeners will prefer to buy young plants from garden centres, but raising plants from seed can save you money and also offers a wider choice of plant varieties.

4) Try growing crops in tubs on your patio, hanging baskets or window-boxes. Include a few varieties of edible flower, such as nasturtium, calendula or viola to pick for decorating summer salads.

5) Tomato 'Tumbler' will put on a spectacular show with masses of fruit and foliage spilling over the edge of the container.

6) Not only are peppers an essential part of the Mediterranean cuisine, the shiny fruits will look perfectly at home in a patio container.

7) Courgette flowers grown in pots are both attractive and edible and the fruits make a tasty addition to any meal.

8) Always water plants immediately after planting or sowing and then regularly through the summer.