Ever wish you could have fresh vegetables from your own garden, even though your only outdoor space is a small balcony? Don’t abandon your dream just yet.Most vegetable plants grown in containers will produce good results if you have a sunny spot and a few minutes each day to tend your garden. To help get you started, we present a four-part series of articles on growing various types of crops: lettuce and leaf vegetables; snow peas, collard greens and kale; tomatoes; and beans and cucumbers.
Part 1: Lettuce and leaf vegetables
It is a good idea to begin with lettuce and leaf vegetables (leaf lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, spinach, etc.), as they develop well in spring, when the weather is cool and the days are long. You will get the best yield if you consume the leaves gradually before the plants fully open up.
Steps to follow
Place the seeds on top of damp soil, covering with a bit more soil (approx. 0.5 cm) and press down lightly to ensure good contact. Sprinkle with water and keep the soil damp until the plantlets emerge. Thin out the seedlings once they have developed four to six leaves, allowing about 2.5 cm between the remaining plants. You can start harvesting the leaves once the plants are about 10-12 cm tall.
Dwarf varieties: A smart choice
If you would rather harvest fully developed lettuce, you may prefer to grow dwarf varieties—you can grow up to four in a 30 cm diameter pot. So they reach maturity before the height of summer, you will have to grow them indoors four to six weeks before putting them outdoors. Lettuce tolerates partial shade (four to six hours of sunlight per day) but produces the best results in full sun (eight hours or more per day). Remember, to stack the odds in your favour, you can refer to the handy tips in our Container gardening 101 anytime! Next week, we present Part 2 of the food-lover’s garden series. On the menu: snow peas, collard greens, kale and radishes.
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