Container gardening for growing food

More people are experimenting with growing fresh food with container gardening.

You can even grow vegetables in burlap bag containers. Photo by Rebecca Finneran, MSU Extension.

You can even grow vegetables in burlap bag containers. Photo by Rebecca Finneran, MSU Extension.

Growing fresh food is not just for farmers and people living in rural areas with ample space for gardening. Gardening and growing your own food is for anyone interested in having the freshest food available, and it can be done through container gardens.

The container to brighten up your small space is not just a pot or two of geraniums, a tall spike or a trailing vine anymore. At one time, these containers were just a splash of living color and something to nurture. These pots were great for people who lived in smaller spaces; they added color, texture and really brightened up small, outdoor living spaces. Patios, front porches and back decks were homes for these traditional containers. These pots are still great, but they are not the container of 2017. The container of 2017 is growing food. It might be growing food with colorful annuals, or the color and texture could come from the leaves, fruits and flowers of the fruits and vegetables grown for eating.

People are experimenting with growing more fruits and vegetables in containers, on trellises and in limited space. Some examples include baskets or buckets of tomatoes hanging upside down, sweet corn on your deck and herbs in window boxes. With the growing interest in fresh, local food, eating locally cannot get more local than your own porch or patio. Growing produce and herbs are at an all-time high. Garden centers are stocking up on plants and seeds for the traditional gardener as well as those with limited space for gardening, and container gardens.

Anything goes when container gardening. I have used beet leaves as a colorful, tall center piece in my flowering annual pots; it is pretty all summer long and I harvest the beets at the end of the season. I always grow my herbs in a variety of pots just outside my kitchen door. It is a nice, sunny location and I can step out and snip what I need for cooking or grilling. Since my pots are in a location convenient to where I am cooking, I use more fresh herbs than I would have if I had to go out to the garden.

When looking through the latest seed catalogs and gardening magazines, there is a vast amount of information on growing vegetables in a container on a patio or deck that used to take quite a bit of space in the home garden. This is even catching on as a trend with people who have space to garden, but like the ease of growing vertically and reducing the amount of work a traditional garden takes.

Container gardening for food is a not just a fad; growing food in creative ways is here to stay. More and more people who live in apartments, condominiums and other places with limited space are experimenting with growing fresh food on their patios, decks and balconies. Seed companies have kept up with this trend as they keep developing varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs that will grow in containers. They’re also creating videos for the consumer to learn more about growing in containers. For example, Burpee Seed Company has a number of videos on growing vegetables in containers. Other trusted publications with good videos on the subject are Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset and Farmer’s Almanac, to name a few.

Michigan State University Extension has publications on container gardening: