Short on time and space but you really want a vegetable garden?
A variety of fall vegetables can easily be grown in containers if you keep a few considerations in mind.
The container can be made of most anything that’s wood, plastic or metal, but it needs to be at least 18 inches deep to provide space for root growth.
For pressure-treated wood containers, ensure there’s enough room to keep the plants 6 inches to 8 inches from the edge of the container.
The container should be food grade for vegetables and have drainage holes in the bottom, which you may have to carefully drill, depending on the container material.
Remember: The larger the container, the heavier it’ll be when full of soil, so choose containers you can move around easily, if the need should arise.
Use a pre-mixed and sterilized potting soil blend purchased in bags from garden centers.
Avoid using soil out of the landscape due to the weed seeds and nematodes, which can harm the roots. Pre-mixed potting soil blends contain a balance of water-holding media and more course materials, which helps to aerate the soil and to provide adequate drainage.
Place containers where the plants get at least six hours of full sun each day and plan to water them every one day to three days, depending on the temperature.
A liquid fertilizer, mixed at the label rate for vegetables, applied every 10 days to 14 days, will help keep your plants productive.
Purchase your plants that are healthy and uniform in color from reputable sellers.
Kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, onion, radish, spinach, and Swiss chard will do very well in containers through fall into winter.
If temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at night, move the containers so that the plants are covered or carefully place a lightweight sheet over the plants to protect from frost. Be sure to remove the cover early in the morning to keep from burning the plants.
Fall vegetable gardens are extremely productive in Florida, but timing is important.
Plant transplants anytime from Halloween to the new year.
Growing fall vegetables in containers provides a great way to get exercise, enjoy the great weather and save money on the grocery bill.
For more information on vegetable gardening, please visit https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/VH021.
By Whitney C. Elmore
Dr. Whitney C. Elmore is the UF/IFAS Pasco County Extension Director/Horticulture.
Published October 13, 2021