Even if you only have a small garden or just a balcony or small courtyard, you can still grow your own tasty fruit and vegetables.
Almost all fruit and vegetables can be grown in pots and other containers. In fact, some vegetables do even better in pots than in the garden!
Choosing a pot, container or planter for your vegetables
Decks, verandahs and balconies are part of almost every home, there's no reason why you can’t grow your own. Having your fruit and vegetables just outside the kitchen or back door makes them easy to pick when you need them.
Any container will be suitable as long as it is big enough for the crop you want to grow, has reasonable drainage and you use best potting mix available.
Terracotta pots and tubs look great but they tend to dry out quite quickly, so plants need more watering than when they’re grown in plastic or composite containers.
What size pot is best for fruit and vegetables?
While it is possible to grow leafy greens like lettuces and salad leaves in shallow window boxes, troughs and bowls, most vegetables will do better in larger containers with a greater volume of potting mix. It will provide a cooler environment for roots and less frequent watering.
French beans for example do well in pots of 15 - 20cm diameter but carrots, parsnips, beetroot and other root vegetables need pots that are deep enough for their roots to develop unrestricted.
Fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums and cucumbers, also do really well in containers. Curtailing their root run controls the vigour of the plants and encourages better flowering and heavier cropping.
The following pot sizes work best for these popular vegetables:
Capsicums and chillies – 20 - 25cm pots
Eggplants – 20 - 25cm pots
Tomatoes – 25 - 30cm pots
Cucumbers – 30cm pots
You can also grow vegetables in hanging pots and grow bags. However, when they are growing strongly and reaching maturity, they will need to be watered more often. In hot weather or when winds are strong, it’s best to take down hanging pots and put them where they will receive some protection to prevent rapid drying out.
Generally, the larger and deeper the pots or containers, the more potting mix they will contain and therefore roots are less likely to dry out quite so quickly.
Best potting mixes for vegetables
Most vegetables, with the exception of perennials like rhubarb and asparagus, are seasonal and will only be growing for a few months. A premium quality vegetable and herb potting mix will produce good crops, but if you’re after spectacular results and prefer to use a completely natural potting mix, then you can’t go past Scotts Performance Naturals Premium Potting Mix.
Potatoes may grow better in a mix formulated for acid-loving plants, such as Scotts Osmocote Rose, Gardenia & Azalea Premium Potting Mix. The tubers are susceptible to a disfiguring skin disease called potato scab, which is more prevalent when they are grown in a neutral to mildly acidic mix.
Best potting mix for fruit
Fruit trees are long lived and do best in a potting mix that has been specially formulated for them, such as Scotts Osmocote Citrus & Fruit Premium Potting Mix. Choose pots that comfortably hold the root balls of your fruit trees, without them being too big. Repot every two or three years to maintain health and vigour.
Top tips for growing vegetables and fruit in containers
• Your potted vegetable and fruit garden will only be successful and productive if you look after it! Use premium quality potting mixes and remember to water and feed as required with quality, long lasting fertilisers that have been blended to suit the plants you’re growing.
• Aim to keep the potting mix as evenly moist as possible, without allowing it to dry out or become waterlogged.
• Premium quality potting mixes contain enough nutrients to feed the plants for several months - check the bag to see how long the fertiliser will last. When that period has lapsed, apply a suitable controlled release fertiliser as recommended, or opt for a 100% natural plant food like Performance Naturals Citrus & Fruit for your fruit trees or Performance Naturals Tomato, Vegetable & Herb for vegies and herbs.