Gardening Containers: Improving Your Yields

Strawberries growing in an EarthBox Junior gardening container

You picked up some planting boxes in spring, hoping to grow fresh vegetables. And now, summer and your peak growing season is fading, and the scant harvest disappoints you.

What went wrong? Poor soil? Not enough fertilizer? Bad luck?

Let's dig into some ways to ensure maximum yields from your container garden. So, if you have a disappointing crop, tuck these tips away for next year. And get ready to enjoy the harvest you want.

Select the Right Spot for Your Container

Your first mission is to select the best outdoor space. It can be a large or small space. Either way, it has to ensure your plants get optimal growing conditions.

That means paying strict attention to sun requirements, especially for tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and leafy green vegetables. Each craves sunlight and needs six or more hours of full sun to flourish. Anything less, and your harvest will fall short of expectations.

Even with the right amount of sunlight, you must balance its impact on plants. For example, leaving your plants in searing midday August heat can stifle their growth.

Soil temperatures rise in sweltering conditions. So, you might need to move your plants in peak summer conditions to avoid compromising yields.

Quality Potting Soil is Essential for Vegetable Container Gardening

Soil composition is essential for a good harvest. It represents your vegetables' home and needs to be a nutrient haven. At all costs, don't make the mistake of shoveling up some ground soil and putting it into your gardening box.

Garden soil typically compacts in a planting box, robbing plants of proper aeration and suffocating plant roots. That's why it's essential to use a loose potting mix for adequate drainage.

The Best Soil for Gardening Containers

You can always pick up a reputable brand like organic Miracle Grow at a local garden center. Some companies, like EarthBox, offer optimal soil mixtures with their planting kits.

Gardening experts often use their own recipes for growing plants. If you select that route, your planting box requires a blend of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss. A good soil mixture using these ingredients helps retain moisture. It also remains loose to improve aeration.

Pay Attention to the pH of Your Planting Box Soil for Better Yields.

Vegetables are fussy about pH. So, test the soil's pH regularly to reflect the pH requirements of what you plant. An acceptable range for a productive vegetable garden is 5.5 to 7.5.

Most plants prefer a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. For example, that's the ideal zone for tomatoes and peppers.

Some plants prefer acidic soils, like basil, carrots, and cucumbers. On the other hand, plants like peas, spinach, lettuce, and onions prefer a neutral or more alkaline soil.

Proper Watering is the Key to Your Yields with Container Gardening

It's a constant dilemma for even some experienced gardeners -- when and how much to water. Either can spell disaster for your plants.

If you aren't comfortable relying on your own devices to tackle watering, you have more precise options available.

First, you can use soaker hoses in your planter boxes. When connected to a water source, plants receive steady moisture. Soaker hoses work by dripping a small amount of water into the soil.

SIP Planters Remove Watering Guesswork

You can pick up a self-watering garden box or sub-irrigated planter (SIP). For example, EarthBox offers a tried and true gardening box for vegetables that manages watering for you.

It removes any guesswork from watering. A fill tube lets you add water to the planter's reservoir, where plant roots access water as needed. So, plants receive the perfect amount of moisture to flourish.

Equally important, you get relief from having to water your plants frequently.

Proper Watering Requires Proper Drainage

Remember, however, that even with proper moisture, drainage is essential. So, ensure your planting box has drainage holes to avoid watering logging plant roots. If not, drill holes in the bottom of your gardening container for proper drainage.

Too much water can lead to root rot. You'll not only reduce your yields but risk killing your plants.

Plants Need Room to Grow in Gardening Containers

Many gardeners tend to think more plants equals more produce. That may be true if you have the right planting boxes per plant.

Unfortunately, there's a tendency to throw too many plants into one container. Equally important, novice gardeners make the mistake of using smaller pots for space-hungry tomato plants, for example.

Plants need adequate room to grow. But when you cram too many, they have inadequate space to reach their potential.

Plants wind up competing for nutrients, water, and light. And that leads to stunted growth or even death. More importantly, it compromises yields substantially.

Proper Spacing for Vegetable Plants in Growing Boxes

If you use seeds for planting, following the guidelines on the packet is essential. For potted planting, here are some general rules of thumb:

  • Bush beans and spinach do best with 4-inch spacing.
  • Leafy vegetables require 6-inch spacing to thrive.
  • You'll need a square foot per plant for broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and pepper plants.
  • Tomatoes need the most room with 18 to 24-inch spacing.

You can find plant placement charts from companies like EarthBox to assist you with optimal spacing.

Plants Need Steady Nutrients to Produce Yields

Plants in open soil can spread their roots far and wide to find nutrients. Not so in gardening containers.

Gardening containers house a finite source of nutrients. So, YOU control how much feed they get to flourish.

Plants like tomatoes are giant feeders. They'll consume nutrients quickly. Moreover, you'll lose nutrients through drainage unless you use a SIP planter.

When to Feed Plants for the Best Results

Generally, it's best to fertilize regularly, starting two or three weeks after planting.

It's best to add compost or time-release fertilizer to the potting mix during planting. Time-release options can last 60 days or more.

As plants grow, a water-soluble fertilizer is typically your best approach. It delivers nutrients directly to plant roots.

When in doubt about the best fertilizer for your plants, look for one that's balanced. That means it has an equal nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium ratio. For example, you'll see labels with 7-7-7 or 10-10-10.

However, you should be aware that flowing vegetables need higher phosphorous levels. Conversely, leafy vegetables need nitrogen.

Get the Best Yields from the Best Growing System

To guarantee the best yields from your container garden, use a growing system like EarthBox. Indeed, their planting boxes have a 100% quality and satisfaction guarantee.

Moreover, it has been the top-rated container gardening system since 1994. You'll get everything necessary to ensure a bountiful harvest of veggies, tomatoes, or herbs.