Growing food in containers is a great way to have a vegetable garden just about anywhere. However it can be challenging here in the subtropics, where the weather can be hot and humid.
Benefits of container gardening
Container gardening allows you to have control over the soil, water, and other conditions that your plants need to thrive. In addition you do not need to invest a lot of money into infrastructure so it makes a great way to grow food with your renting or if you’re limited on space.
Considerations for container growing
Choose the right container
When it comes to container gardening in the subtropics, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that the containers will dry out faster due to the high temperatures and humidity. To combat this, make sure to choose containers with drainage holes, and use a high-quality potting mix that is well-draining.
It’s also important to make sure to choose the right size container for the plants you choose. A container that is too small may not have enough room for the roots to grow, while a container that is too large may hold too much water, leading to root rot. As a general rule, the container should be at least as deep as the root ball of the plant, and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s mature size. Most seedling and seed packet labelling will give information on appropriate spacing of your plants which can guide you into choosing the correct size container.
Keep an eye on pests and diseases
Another thing to keep in mind is that the high temperatures and humidity can lead to issues with pests and diseases. To prevent this, make sure to keep your containers clean and free of debris, and choose plants that are known to be disease-resistant. Additionally, be sure to keep an eye out for signs of pests or disease and take action quickly if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Positioning your container
When it comes to positioning your containers, it’s important to make sure they are getting enough sunlight. Most vegetables need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, so place your containers in a sunny location. If you don’t have a lot of space or don’t have a sunny spot, you can use grow lights to supplement the natural light.
It’s also important to protect your container garden from extreme weather conditions. In the subtropics, this means protecting your plants from both heat and storms. To protect your plants from heat, you can use shading materials such as shade cloth or burlap to block out some of the sun. To protect your plants from storms, you can use stakes or cages to support the plants and keep them from being knocked over.
When it comes to choosing plants for your container garden, it’s important to select varieties that are well-suited to the subtropical climate. Some good options include tomatoes (we love Pink Thai Egg Tomato and Burnley Gem Tomato), capsicums, eggplants, beans, and herbs such as basil and coriander. These plants tend to be heat-loving and thrive in the subtropical climate.
Looking after container gardens
Whilst growing in containers can be beneficial for those who lack space they can actually take a little bit more maintenance than a regular garden bed.
Depending on your container size and the plants you grow be prepared to water your plants more frequently than you would in a traditional garden. With the heat containers can dry out a lot quicker than a garden bed so it’s something you will need to continually monitor.
Feed your plants regularly
It’s important to fertilise your container garden regularly. Container gardens can deplete the soil quickly, so it’s important to replenish the nutrients. For containers we like to use a weekly feed of Seaweed Saver. You can also use compost or other organic matter to help your container garden thrive.
Container gardening is a great way to grow food in the subtropics, where the weather can be hot and humid. By choosing the right plants, using well-draining soil, and providing enough sunlight and water, you can create a successful container garden that will provide you with fresh, healthy produce all year round. Additionally, taking measures to protect your container garden from extreme weather conditions and regular feeding, you can make sure your container garden thrives. With a bit of effort, you can have a beautiful, productive container garden that is perfect for the subtropical climate.
Need help getting your garden in order? Come join us inside Dirt Lovers.