Many of us have modest outside spaces but they needn't be unproductive and, as David Hall finds out, containers and planters are a brilliant way of growing vegetables and herbs.
While window boxes and planters are normally full of colourful flowers, they can easily be used to grow edible plants and herbs many of which are just as attractive in both texture and colour.
Regular watering and feeding is necessary and yields might not be so great but digging and weeding are easier as well as pest control.
The produce is also literally on your doorstep, adjacent to the kitchen and ready to put in the pan; beetroot, carrots, peas, potatoes, onions, salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers and chilllies together with many varieties of herbs can all be within picking distance.
Containers of all sizes and shapes can be used, from a traditonal herb wheel to at least 18ins in depth and height similar to the Zest Deep Root Vegetable Planter if the plants are vigorous.
Make sure the growing medium has good moisture retention but will not be affected by waterlogging. A soil based compost with loam and organic matter or a proprietary potting compost might be best. Most vegetables prefer a neutral pH.
Position the container in a sunny sheltered position, of course at different times of the year, the container can be moved to suit the conditions.
Maintenance and Problems
Your most important task will be watering daily and feeding with a liquid fertilizer about every ten days. Make sure there is access to a butt or tap, especially if you want to install an automatic watering system that will prove its worth when you are on holiday.
As long as the plants are kept moist with good drainage, are regularly fed and there is enough space for good root development, problems should be kept at a minimum and you'll be rewarded with a fine harvest.