A message from Makori Richini –
A message from Khoi San –
Linnea Harris – Jul. 13, 2021
It doesn’t take much room to grow your own food: a patio, porch, sidewalk, or even a sunny windowsill will do the trick. Container gardening, a practice adopted by many urban growers, provides you the pleasure of gardening with a fraction of the space.
Growing a few vegetables that you buy regularly – whether that be lettuce, tomatoes, peas, or even potatoes – may seem insignificant, but can save you money, cut down on single-use plastic, and lower the environmental impact of what’s on your plate.
Before getting started, address a few of the main considerations for container gardening: which type of container you’ll use, where the containers will be placed, whether you’ll grow from seeds or starters, and the type of soil you’ll use.
The optimal size and shape of a container will vary based on what’s growing inside, although the pot’s material is less variable. Terra-cotta pots are more attractive, and while they might be perfect for your houseplants, they don’t retain water as well as plastic planters, which are also much lighter and less expensive. Regardless, make sure whatever container you use has drainage holes in the bottom for excess water.
Before situating one of your potted plants, determine whether the appointed spot gets enough sunlight based on the plant’s specific needs. Check the spot every hour over the course of a day to see how many total hours of sunlight the plant will get.
Many garden supply stores sell starters – small plants that are ready to be transplanted directly into your container – or, you can grow your own from seed, learning the specifications for individual vegetables, including when they should be planted during the spring or fall growing seasons.
Lastly, fight the urge to use normal gardening soil in containers. Potting soil – some of which is designed specifically for container gardening – provides better aeration and prevents the plant’s roots from becoming waterlogged. Potting soil also helps retain moisture; unlike plants in the ground, container-bound vegetables can’t send out roots to find more water and nutrients. Along with watering the plants frequently – about once a day, in most cases – keep the pots well fertilized by adding compost.
While most vegetables can be grown in containers, a few are particularly well-suited for the task.
1. Leafy Greens
Westend61 / Getty Images
Greens thrive when grown in containers, which also prevent rabbits from helping themselves to your crops and common pests like nematodes from intruding.
Lettuce, kale, arugula, spinach, and Swiss chard all grow best in cooler weather. If temperatures will exceed 80ºF, consider using a moveable container so the leaves can be taken out of direct sunlight on hotter days. Remember that potted greens also require more water than those grown in the soil; for a lower-maintenance option that demands fewer resources (such as large pots and frequent watering), consider growing dwarf varieties.
Spinach will reach full harvest potential in only 40-45 days, while hardier leaves like kale will take a bit longer. Lettuce is quick to bolt, so harvest leaves when they are relatively young and new growth will take their place. Cut lettuce about half an inch from the soil to allow for regrowth, and harvest individual kale leaves from the stalk, pulling down to detach it without damaging the rest of the plant.
Greens will start slowing down in late June/early July when temperatures rise, but plant again in late September to harvest throughout the fall months. Kale and spinach – which grow especially well together – will continue producing throughout the winter in milder climates.
Snap peas, shelling peas, snow peas, and almost anything else from the Leguminosae family will grow well in containers. Most peas take somewhat long to mature – between 60 and 70 days – but require very little attention while growing.
Peas come in either bush or climbing varieties; use anything from fallen sticks to leftover PVC piping as a stake, leftover chicken wire, or a trellis (if space allows) for climbing peas to attach their vines to. Learn how tall your variety will grow before deciding on a staking method, although most varieties are climbing plants and will need support.
The roots of pea plants are relatively shallow, so a windowbox or trough will suffice and allow you to grow more plants. For taller and bushier varieties, use pots 8-12 inches in depth; shorter varieties need only 6 inches. Seeds or starters can be planted as close as 3 inches together.
Check for adequate pea development – and widening of the shell on more tubular varieties like snap peas – before harvesting. Snap peas mature faster (you don’t have to wait for the pod to fill), and are a quicker option for impatient growers.
Westend61 / Getty Images
Tomato plants growing in front-yard planters are a common sight; these flowering nightshade plants are a rewarding vegetable to grow in whatever space you have available.
Choose the tomato variety you’d like to plant, and find a spot that will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight. To keep the plants from competing for resources, grow each in a separate 5-gallon container with good drainage holes. Tomatoes do require frequent watering – as often as once or twice a day during the hot summer months when they’re more mature – and will draw on moisture for much of the day if given water in the morning.
Upside-down tomato buckets are another popular growing method for smaller tomato varieties, and can provide some decoration to a patio or back porch. After cutting a two-inch hole in the bottom of a five-gallon bucket and covering with fiberglass (slicing it like a pie above the hole so there are six triangular pieces that keep the plant in place), poke a tomato starter through the hole and fill up the bucket with potting soil. Water will drain through the hole when the bucket is hung, and the plant can be protected from getting waterlogged in the rain by putting the bucket lid on top.
4. Summer Squash
Similarly to peas, summer squashes come in either bush varieties or long vines. Either will grow in containers, but bush varieties remain more compact. Plant zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, or any of your other favorite varieties in individual pots at least 12 inches deep. Each plant can easily fill out a two-foot-wide pot; be sure not to crowd them.
In order to produce squash, the plants do need both male and female flowers, so the more flower-producing plants you can grow, the merrier, and the better your chances of a high squash yield (even several a week during peak growing months).
If you choose a vining squash, provide a stake to support the plant. Make sure the containers get plenty of sunlight (7 hours a day is optimal), and water when the top inch or so of soil is dry.
5. Green Onions
With their very shallow roots, green onions are a prime candidate for container growing. Plant seeds about half an inch deep, or, if using transplants, plant so the soil covers the white bulb of the onion. For greater assurance of a successful harvest, you can also plant onion sets: small onion bulbs for gardening, which become full onions in about three and a half months.
Leave 1-2 inches of space between the plants. Keep the onions well-watered (whenever the top inch of soil is dry), in a sunny location either indoors or outdoors, and harvest within 40 to 50 days.
When placed in a shallow jar of water, the bulbs will even grow back the green tops that have been cut off.
Both in and out of containers, peppers – such as bell peppers, chili peppers, and jalapeños – are relatively easy to grow. Hailing from warmer climates, peppers all love sun and grow best in the summer months when the temperature is between 70 and 80ºF. Peppers also thrive in moist soil, and require daily watering (twice a day on very hot summer days). To give space for their roots to grow, plant peppers in pots at least 12 inches in diameter. The branches are prone to breakage once they’re heavy with fruit, so use some sort of support to hold the plants upright.
Bell peppers are ready to harvest in 2-3 months; harvest when green, or allow them to ripen further until they’re red, orange, or yellow. Chili peppers take slightly longer, and should be harvested once they reach their mature color. Jalapeños, chili peppers, and other small varieties benefit from pruning when they’re about 6-8 weeks old, which will allow for new growth and result in a bushier plant.
While pepper plants are self-pollinating, pollinators do help the plants set more fruit. If your plant is situated where bees can’t reach – such as a screen porch or high balcony – try self-pollinating your peppers.
Cavan Images / Getty Images
For this large plant and member of the tomato family, choose a pot of at least 5 gallons and 12-14 inches in diameter. Eggplants prefer sandy loam soil; create your own by mixing two parts potting soil with one part sand. Keep the soil moist (but not soaked) by watering once a day or more, and perhaps topping with some type of mulch to retain the moisture. Since the vegetables are rather large, the plants will require trellising, unless you purchase varieties (either seeds or starters) labeled as “compact” or “for containers.”
Eggplants are very sensitive to cold – more so than tomatoes and peppers – and need temperatures around 68ºF or higher to germinate. Keep the containers in a sunny area and use darker-colored pots in cooler climates to retain heat. If temperatures dip at night, take the pots inside the house or another protected area.
Harvesting differs based on variety; research which type of eggplant works best for your space and preferences. Generally, however, the plant will reach maturity in about 2-3 months and the fruit will become glossy when mature.
Like eggplants, cucumbers require large pots – ideally 5-gallon or more – which will hold more potting soil and thus retain moisture for longer, supporting their extensive root systems. When shopping for seeds or starters, look for compact varieties, or “parthenocarpic” cucumbers if you live in an urban area without many bees, as they will set fruit without pollination.
Cucumbers love to climb and will need trellising – such as tomato cages or a homemade trellis with string, wire, or wood – which also helps maximize your vertical space. They’ll also need 6-8 hours of full sunlight, and consistently moist soil.
Squash bugs and cucumber beetles are common pests on cucumber plants, but can be suppressed with neem oil.
Check the plant frequently for new fruit, which can go from tiny to enormous in a matter of days. Be sure to pick cucumbers before they grow too large and become seedy and bitter. Follow the harvesting instructions for each variety, and learn how large the fruit should get before being picked. Rather than pulling the cucumbers from the vine directly, snip them with scissors or clippers to encourage new growth and avoid damaging the stem.
Dougal Waters / DigitalVision / Getty Images
Even when buried in the ground, potatoes are often grown in bags for easier harvesting, making them a great candidate for container gardening.
Some potatoes can take up to 120 days to mature – including many grocery-store favorites – so look for seed potato varieties (small potatoes for growing new plants) that are disease-resistant and mature within three months. Generally, smaller, “new” potatoes will fare better than large russet varieties in containers.
Ideally, choose a 10-15 gallon container that’s 2-3 feet high; any opaque container will do, although some gardeners opt for special potato bags.
Space seed potatoes about one foot apart. Since the new potatoes will grow above the seed potato, plant them about 6 inches down to allow for growth. As the seed potato develops new rhizomes and tubers and the above-ground plant continues to grow, you’ll need to use additional soil to create mounds around the plant, giving it more room to grow underground. Begin this mounding process when the plant is about 6-8 inches high, covering all but the top leaves, then repeating once it’s again reached this height.
The potatoes are ready to harvest when the plant begins to flower (although new potatoes can be ready slightly before this). Dig through the soil for the potatoes, or dump the whole lot onto a tarp and remove them easily.
A message from Vitamin Kay – Kenya –
A message from Kimberly Beck –
Text by:Ryan Truscott
Conservationists in Malawi have launched an ambitious project to rear 50,000 endangered Mulanje cycads – palm-like trees with poisonous leaves that have been around since before the time of the dinosaurs.ADVERTISING
Due to their novelty factor, cycads are one of the most trafficked groups of plants on the planet.
But the Mulanje cycad is in peril mostly due to population expansion and habitat destruction, said Carl Bruessow, director of the independent Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust, which is behind the project.
With funding from the Mahomed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, the trust has started rearing seedlings, or “pups” of this “living fossil” to be planted at sites around Mount Mulanje, in southern Malawi.
A unique moth
Bruessow told RFI he had just delivered 10,000 seeds to a partner organisation in the area.
He said in addition to protecting the trees, which stand out against the landscape because of their thick trunks and spiny palm-like leaves, the project aims to ensure the long-term survival of two other species: a weevil responsible for the trees’ pollination, and the striking orange and black striped Mulanje tiger moth whose caterpillars feed exclusively on the cycads’ poisonous leaves.
This makes the moths toxic to predators like birds.
“It’s one conservation story, but it’s about protecting three species – all endemic,” he said.
Julian Bayliss, a biodiversity and protected areas specialist who works throughout Africa, has studied the relationship between the tiger moth and the cycad. He told RFI that both were living fossils.
“This day-flying moth can display in numbers and attract females to mate without being eaten by birds,” he said, noting that these competitive displays, normally seen only in birds or mammals, are unique to the Mulanje tiger moth.
“To evolve its lifestyle to live on the cycad would have taken millions of years,” he added.
The moth, whose total population is thought to now number less than 2,000, is deemed critically-endangered.
Around 20,000 mature Mulanje cycads still grow in the wild in Malawi, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It lists the species as vulnerable to extinction due to its declining numbers.
“I think cycads are resilient, it’s human beings that have been messing around with them,” said Bruessow.
“I’d like to move it [the Mulanje cycad] right off the list.” He added that cultural perceptions of the tree in Malawi aid its conservation: having one growing in your garden is believed by many to provide protection from thieves and danger.
Mount Mulanje, with its towering mountain peaks and steep valleys and gorges, is famous for its plant biodiversity. At least 50 species that grow there are found nowhere else. A study published in March revealed two more species from the area that are new to science.
In the past, threats to the Mulanje cycad included the clearance of land to plant tea. Bruessow says the Mulanje cycad is now cultivated in gardens at a number of houses on tea estates. These are a valuable source of seeds, produced in their hundreds on huge orange cones.
The conservation group intends to strengthen existing stands of cycads around Mount Mulanje, including sites where the Mulanje tiger moth is known to breed.
“If we see a population of Mulanje cycads somewhere, we want to strengthen that and also enrich existing sites, and then join them up,” Bruessow said.
Once Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted, the plan is to extend the project to a hill above the town of Milange, just across the border in Mozambique, which is part of the cycads’ original range.
A message from Favoured Anoruo – Nairobi
My garden is not in a container but a raised bed. The only things I have in a container are carrots which are growing very well. I have harvested several times and now preparing my garden for winter vegetables so that I have some winter harvest too. My aim is to have green vegetables all through the year, so my winter vegetables should be snow resistant to withstand until next spring when I start planting for summer harvest . Below are pictures of my small garden and my harvest so far .
A message from Nelson Kefa – Bosongo –
A message from Marjorie Kiconco –
Slice a tomato – sieve the seeds – wash and the dry the seeds on aplate (not a paper to avoid sticking) – plant the seeds in sacks or in raised beds
A message from Mollyne Ochieng – Kisumu –
Even in de sidewall young plants developing
A message from Euticus Mutahi –
A message from Martha Akelo Opondo – Kisumu –
A message from Debs Dizon Talkington –
My container vegetables starting to be ready in a few days! They make me Happy!
I’ve planted my sweet potatoes in sacks…see how they grow!!
A message from Linda Jones –
A message from Kelly Njiru – Kampala –
I managed to transplant 50 sacks of tomatoes.
A message from Flojie Mwangi –
A message from Viktória Emil Sz –
Fresh and crispy. Potato is blooming, eggplant recovering. Interesting life with containers.
A message from Jerry Hubacek –
Watermelon is progressing nicely in 2 and 3 gallon containers.
A message from Michael Biddle –
I made this tower from pipe a 35L bucket and pump. 5 weeks in the tower and these bok choi are thriving
A message from Afua Odeisi –
Started in April 2021 and enjoying it. From Ghana.
A message from Alia Babapulle –
I sliced a tomato and put it into a pot. This is the result after one month. I would appreciate any tips as how to carry on so it is strong and healthy.
A message from Ruth Paetzold –
This is my second year container gardening my veggies.
Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes projected for most of the country
- Most rural households are currently consuming food from their own production following the April to June harvests, supporting improved access to food. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to persist in most rural areas throughout the outlook period. However, in the Lower Shire livelihood zone districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa where prolonged dry spells resulted in production shortfalls for many households, the emergence of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes is expected around September/October with further deterioration to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) expected around November/December. In Malawi’s main cities, improvement from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes is expected around July 2021 alongside improvements in economic activity in the post-harvest period.
- Staple maize prices have continued to decline alongside the progression of harvesting. In May 2021, maize prices were 17 to 35 percent below prices at the same time last year and 7 to 20 percent below the five-year average across monitored markets. Below-average prices are projected to persist through July and then seasonally increase—trending near average levels—through the rest of the projection period. In May 2021, retail prices of maize averaged MWK 134 per kilogram at the national level and were lower than the government-set minimum farm-gate price of MWK 150 per kilogram in most markets, though above-average maize production is generally expected to compensate farmers for the lower selling prices. Production and income from tobacco and cotton—the main cash crops—are expected to be below normal.
- Since mid-June 2021, the number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily has been increasing. As of June 30, the seven-day moving average of new daily cases had increased to 129, up from under 15 from May 1 to June 14. While this is still significantly lower than during the peak of the second wave in early 2021 when the seven-day average of new daily cases approached 1,000, more contagious variants have been confirmed in Malawi and the government has closed borders to the entry of foreigners as of mid-June. Though not the most likely scenario, renewed internal control measures would likely result in reduced income-earning for many poor urban households.
A message from Julia Johnson-mcgee –
Sacks and containers. Because it gets so hot, i put the sacks into old kiddie swimming pools to hold a little water, otherwise they dry out in a couple hours. They have cracks or holes in them but that’s ok. If it rains, the plants won’t drown. The containers have blueberry, raspberry, boysenberry, and aronia berry bushes plus fig trees and an olive tree. One container has a tomato tree and marigolds. The sacks are mostly tomatoes and peppers.
A message from Gloriousglorious Glo – Garissa
A message from Marlyn White –
A message from BM Nix –
A message from Ganti Venkatesh –
A message from Paul Rumba – Kenya
A message from Kelly Killick –
I’ve probably harvested about twenty pounds of tomatoes so far this month, I’m figuring I will get another twenty pounds by the end of July! I never expected this the first time out. I will start over the end of July, and hopefully get a bunch more.
Grow food crops in containers (e.g. buckets and bags)
A message from AliceAsos Makena Sos –
“If you want to be happy be a farmer”
A message from Namutebi Lucky Imran – Kampala, Uganda
And she is in favour of container gardening !
A message from Sunil Jose –
A message from SuccaFree Choppa –
A message from Nanette Angelucci –
You get one or two tomatoes, wash out and dry the seeds and then let them germinate. Plant the seedlings in any container (pot, bottle, bag, sack, drum, barrel, you name it …) and let them grow on a trellis.
Offer the tomatoes to your kids and family members. Thanks, dad !
No garden plot? No problem! –
BY CHRISTOPHER MICHEL AND ANGELA S. JUDD – JUN 7, 2021
If you’ve been caught by the gardening bug but lack available yard space — or access to a community garden plot — you aren’t out of the game yet! Many herbs, flowers, and vegetables can be grown in pots or containers. All you need is some potting soil, a few containers of the right size, and a little know-how. Here, author and master gardener Angela Judd of Growing In the Garden shares eight great vegetables that don’t need a plot to be grown, from her book How to Grow Your Own Food: An Illustrated Beginner’s Guide to Container Gardening. (And here are some great ways to cook those vegetables into side dishes after you’ve harvested them!)1How to Grow Broccoli in a Container
Broccoli plants can get large. Look for compact varieties that grow well in containers. Broccoli grown during cool weather will have a sweeter flavor than its warm-weather counterpart. Good companions for broccoli include dill, chamomile, sage, beets, and onions.
Days to harvest: 100–150 days from seed; 55–80 days from transplant
Size: 18″–24″ tall and wide
Container Size: Five gallons or larger. Container should be 10″–12″ deep.
When to Plant Begin planting in the spring 5 weeks before last spring frost date. Broccoli can also be planted in the fall in many climates.
Varieties to Try: Munchkin (small variety that grows well in containers); De Cicco (fast-maturing variety).
Grows Best From: Seed or transplant. When choosing transplants at the nursery, look for compact green leaves on a short stem.
How to Plant
Plant seeds 1⁄4″ deep and 3″ apart. Thin to 12″–20″ apart when seedlings are 2″–3″ apart. Plant transplants 12″–20″ apart, and a little deeper than nursery-pot level, but not any deeper than the first set of leaves.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Water well until plants are established and then provide regular water. Broccoli grows well with an olla (a clay container for self-watering) or in a self-watering container.
Feed: Benefits from a liquid organic fertilizer application each week, 3–4 weeks after planting.
When to Harvest
Harvest broccoli when the head is full and tight and when the buds are dark green and not opening. If they turn yellow, you’ve waited too long. Harvest broccoli before temperatures are consistently above 75°F. Pick it in the morning for best flavor. Use a sharp knife to cut stalk off at an angle 5″–8″ below the head. Cutting at an angle allows water to drain off rather than puddling on the remaining stem. Most broccoli varieties produce smaller side shoots after the main stalk is harvested. Harvest side shoots 2–3 weeks later.
Tips: Insects such as cabbage worms, cutworms, snails, and slugs can ruin young broccoli plants.
A mixture of rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint and basil in these pots. I also have parsley, cilantro, lemon grass, chives, sage, bay leaf. I love them all. They also help keep the spiders and mosquitoes away.
Everything tastes so much better when useing fresh herbs.
A message from Terri Limberg Lewis –
A couple pics of my new ventures this season:
Compare the many examples of very simple production of food crops on this blog with the article below (and then come to your own conclusion):
Madagascar’s hungry ‘holding on for dear life’, WFP chief warns
And nobody in Madagascar can show the people how to grow food crops in containers ?
Lettuce and onion – https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1610651252469126&set=pcb.4573757466002000
Easton, Maryland, Zone 7B
My experiment of growing tomatoes in the ground vs. in pots on my deck seems to show that the deck is doing better than the ground.
Lots of green tomatoes (cherry as well as my beefsteak Chef’s Oranges–I actually picked my first cherry tomato last week) on the deck tomatoes, not so many on the tomatoes in the ground. We have been at this house since 1988 and the trees have grown so much I don’t get nearly as much sun in my little raised bed garden as I used to.
I think next year I will concentrate on the containers for tomatoes and the raised bed for those veggies that don’t need as much sun.
A message from Jennifer Diane –
A message from Jenna EB –
It’s blueberry harvest time! This is the only way I’ve had success growing blueberries- they don’t like our native soil (Ohio, US).
I being able to pick fresh blueberries from the backyard. For years I attempted to grow them in-ground… amending the soil, building raised beds, you name it. I finally had to admit that I was fighting a losing battle.
My native clay is just not conducive to growing plants that love loose, loamy, acidic soil. So I started growing them in containers. I may never be able to realize my dream of becoming a blueberry farmer… but we produce enough for some tasty snacking!
A messagz from Nanette Angelucci –
Abundance of green leafy vegetables from my container garden. Wow, I am so grateful and happy .
My potato plants are flowering, an indication that there’ll be some potato harvest soon.
The blueberries are turning blue, strawberries are a success also, but they are getting eaten by some critters before I get to them. Beans and lots of my favourite cherry tomatoes are coming.
True blessings of the summer season!!!
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR WHEN COMBATING MALNUTRITION AND HUNGER IN A DEVELOPING COUNTRY ?
HELP PEOPLE TO CONTAINERS AND SEEDS INSTEAD OF SENDING THEM COOKIES.
I first tried vertical gardening last year with the purchase of a tower planter. It went so well I’ve purchased a second one this year and they are coming along really well so far. They allow me to grow 40 heads of lettuce in my wee urban backyard patio.
Mike Hogan | Special to The Columbus Dispatch
This is the time in the growing season when the bedding plants are in the ground, the petunia baskets are hanging on the front porch, the vegetable garden has been planted, and the enthusiastic gardener is scouring locations in the home landscape to add even more plants. There are always more plants to buy and more seeds to sow. If you haven’t yet incorporated container plantings into your landscape, it’s time to consider doing so.
Container gardens can be added to many outdoor spaces, including decks and patios or even incorporated into in-ground beds and landscape plantings. And containers add instant curb appeal to any home when placed next to the front door, on entrance steps or even at the mailbox. For gardeners with little space, containers offer the perfect solution for adding flowers, tropical plants or even vegetables to small outdoor spaces such as balconies or courtyards.
Gone are the days when the terra-cotta flowerpot was the only container choice for gardeners. Gardeners will now find containers in many different colors and styles, made of everything from plastic, wood, metal, glass and even fabric. Glazed ceramic or clay pots are available in many different colors, patterns and styles and are popular choices for gardeners who wish to coordinate container colors with their home’s exterior or the theme of their garden.
Whimsical container choices such as a worn work boot filled with small succulents or a rusty old wheelbarrow overflowing with colorful wave petunias will add personality to any outdoor living space or garden.
When choosing a container for any type of plant, be sure that the container has drainage holes. Depending upon the type of material a container is made of, drainage holes can be added to containers lacking them with a drill or even a nail or punch awl. Attempting to address the lack of drainage holes by adding a layer of stone or gravel in the bottom of the pot simply will not be adequate.
Simple design rule
When choosing plants to incorporate into containers, a simple design rule to follow is to consider using a variety of plants including thrillers, fillers and spillers. Thrillers are the larger vertical plants such as canas, elephant ears, or caladiums.
Fillers tend to be plants with horizontal or weaving growth patterns such as petunias, impatiens or ageratum.
And spillers are cascading plants that spill out over the edge of the container, such as creeping Jenny and sweet-potato vine.
Mixing flowering annuals with tropical houseplants or even vegetable plants in the same container will add visual appeal to any container.
Proper growing media critical
The best planting media for containers of any size is a soilless potting mix designed specifically for containers. These mixes contain organic material such as sphagnum peat moss, shredded bark and mineral ingredients such as vermiculite, perlite, clay and sand.
Avoid the temptation to fill your containers with native clay soil from the garden, as it is too heavy, drains poorly, and compacts easily. Soil-less mixes have the proper structure to provide pore space for air, drain properly to prevent waterlogging, and allow for healthier root development.
Change plants with seasons
For variety, consider swapping out plants in your container as the seasons change. The same container can provide late-winter color with pansies, and a variety of annual flowering plants throughout summer. In autumn, the annuals can be replaced with cool-season plants such as flowering kale, asters and hardy mums.
Adding container gardens to your home’s landscape can be a creative and fun way to expand your gardening footprint.
Mike Hogan is an associate professor at Ohio State University and an educator at the OSU Extension.
A recent study published in Food Policy finds that male and female farmers in Malawi can produce similar yields when they have equal access to inputs. But according to the research, grain yields on farms managed by women are consistently lower than those on farms managed by men. This partly comes from unequal access to high quality land.
In Malawi, land inheritance is traditionally matrilineal and marriages are uxorial, meaning the husband moves to the wife’s village. Men, however, continue to dominate Malawian agriculture and society. While women tend to have land rights, this study speculates that they receive rights to lower quality farmland.
To better understand this discrepancy, the study looks at the effects that access to farming resources has on maize yields for Malawian farmers. The researchers compared yields between male and female managed farms to determine if lower yields are worsened by limited access to resources.
The researchers analyzed the differences in fertilizer use and seed quality between male and female managed plots, as well as each farm’s respective soil quality. After comparing 884 sites, the researchers concluded that the difference in access to the resources and quality farming plots were the only gender-related factors that impact maize yields.
There is nothing “about being a man or woman that innately makes you better at farming,” Dr. William Burke, lead author of the study, tells Food Tank.
This unequal ownership of quality farmland has implications for the country’s rates of hunger and malnutrition.
Malawi suffers from persistent food insecurity, and ranked 78th out of 117th on the Global Hunger Index’s list of food insecure countries in 2019. Additionally, the United Nations Human Development Report finds that 39 percent of Malawian children under five are stunted from malnutrition.
Women play a vital role in agricultural consumption decisions and are primarily responsible for making household food decisions for their families, according to research from the University of Manchester. To properly address the country’s high rate of food insecurity, U. N. Food and Agriculture Organization argues that women should be central to agricultural institutions and decision making.
The study recommends interventions to address the gender disparity in farming. While equalizing legal land rights is important, the researchers argue that this alone is unlikely to address the problem. “Women’s land rights are necessary but not sufficient for leveling the playing field,” Burke tells Food Tank. He explains that Malawi’s cultural landscape demonstrates that inequalities can persist, even when countries recognize land rights for women.
The authors believe it is essential to prioritize policies that target soil quality improvement. Improving soil health means sustainability improving the availability of nutrients in soil that help farmers produce bigger yields. Not only would improving soil help increase yields for all farmers, it would benefit the lowest quality soils, held by the most disadvantaged farmers.
Burke tells Food Tank, “Targeting soil improvement programs by default will disproportionately benefit women.”
MY COMMENT (Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM – Ghent University, Belgium)
If grain yields on farms managed by women are consistently lower than those on farms managed by men, it could partly be attributed from unequal access to high quality land, women receiving only rights to lower quality farmland. Men and women are judged equal in farming skills.
As unequal ownership of quality farmland has implications for the country’s rates of hunger and malnutrition, it is of the utmost importance to address this gender disparity in farming, to create starting equality in the production process of food.
I agree fully with Dr. William Burke when he argues that equalizing legal land rights alone is unlikely to address this problem.
Although it may be essential to prioritize policies that target soil quality improvement, I strongly believe that in a country with recurrent droughts and floods it would be even more essential to prioritize policies that target food security by switching from food production on farmland to production in containers.
It has been repeatedly shown at the international level that food crops can be produced in significant quantities in the most adverse conditions,using different container gardening techniques. Many examples have been given at the site https://malawidevelopment.wordpress.com/.
I therefore recommend container gardening for alleviation of child malnutrition and hunger, not only in Malawi, but in every country suffering from droughts, floods and gender inequalities.
As Malawi is intending to launch important projects for development of skills in some priority areas, e.g. agriculture, aprticularly for female students, it seems logical to me that container gardening will be taken in account in the prioritizing policies.
“The SAVE project will establish partnerships with relevant industries and private sector entities to supports skills development in priority areas, , namely agriculture, education, energy, health, industry, and ICT …”
The World Bank has approved $100 million (about K80 billion) in financing for Malawi to support increased access, particularly for female students, to skills development programs in priority areas of the economy that are most relevant to the labor market.
The Skills for a Vibrant Economy (SAVE) Project is designed to provide skills development support through programs offered in selected tertiary education institutions spanning higher education and technical, entrepreneurial, and vocational education and training (TEVET), with special attention on demand-driven approaches to boost labor force skills, women’s empowerment, digital skills and technology, institutional strengthening and learning continuity.
“We are pleased to embark on the SAVE project, which will help us better prepare and support youth skills development in Malawi. Although access to tertiary education has been increasing in Malawi, enrolment rates remain low and compare unfavorably with regional and world averages. The SAVE project’s focus on increasing access to higher education and TEVET skills development programs will help us move quickly on ensuring that additional youth have the opportunity to achieve their potential and the skills necessary to meet the demands of the economy and the labor market in line with Malawi 2063”; said Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje.
According to Labor Deputy Minister Hon. Vera Kantukule, the SAVE project will establish partnerships with relevant industries and private sector entities to supports skills development in priority areas, namely agriculture, education, energy, health, industry, and ICT as well as updating courses and training of lecturers, professors, and staff.
“By supporting industry and private sector engagement, the SAVE project will help ensure that as we focus on developing skills in priority areas of the economy, we align to labor market needs in order to better prepare our youth for the job market, and promote job creation, aligned to national development priorities” said Kantukule.
The project will support nine higher education institutions, seven national technical colleges, and about 30 skills development institutions. Over its lifetime, SAVE will benefit 45,000 university students and 65,000 technical and vocational students.
World Bank Country Manager for Malawi noted that the project uses global lessons from World Bank skills development and training projects and builds on past World Bank support in Malawi. It also works to support institutions in supporting learning continuity and resilience as they implement institutional development plans.
“The WBG’s new 5-year Country Partnership Framework is focused on promoting private sector led job creation in line with the objectives of Malawi 2063. This new WBG investment will help Malawi’s youth prepare for the job market, while also helping MSMEs by raising the level of skills and entrepreneurship in the market,” said Hugh Riddell.
The project supports the achievement of Malawi’s key strategic priorities in the education sector, as outlined in the National Education Sector Investment Plan, which aims to increase access and equity, improve quality and relevance, and address key challenges in terms of the governance and management in higher education and technical and vocational training.
MY COMMENT (Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM – Ghent University, Belgium)
I am very pleased when reading that agriculture is one of the priority areas for increased access, particularly for female students.
I express my hope that women and girls in Malawi will get an opportunity to develop skills in container gardening, as it has been universally shown that in this particular field of agriculture and horticulture female experts and laborers play a dominant role.
As a forester and forest landscape restoration expert, Tangu Tumeo is helping to reverse deforestation in her native Malawi by working with rural communities to see the value of their local forests in building more sustainable livelihoods in the East African nation.
Tumeo, a former forestry adviser for the Malawi national government and now a Program Officer at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), says 80 percent of Malawi’s forest and agricultural land is degraded and 80 percent of the population there is in the rural areas.
“The need for more farmland is increasing. The patches of forest are getting smaller and smaller,” she says,”Cooking, heat, light and tobacco preparation are all done using biomass.”
Tumeo says in order to restore forest cover in Malawi, a wide range of interventions have been rolled out, including energy-saving cookstoves and reducing waste in the production of charcoal.
MY COMMENT (Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM – Ghent University , Belgium)
I understand that ” in order to restore forest cover in Malawi, a wide range of interventions have been rolled out, including energy-saving cookstoves and reducing waste in the production of charcoal“.
But, I don’t understand that when ” The need for more farmland is increasing“, experts are not advising farmers to switch to container gardening for a significant increase of food production, instead of focusing on tobacco and/or maize production.
In a country with abnormally high child malnutrition and with high risks of recurrent droughts and floods it should be readily accepted that production of diverse food crops and fruits should be a priority for all farmers.
Moreover, even citizens, normally not involved in agriculture or gardening, can very easily be convinced that container gardening at home in urban areas is becoming a profitable feature at the universal level. Malaawi should urgently follow this trend.
Parliamentarians have expressed concern that the Affordable Inputs Subsidy Programme (AIP) has moved the focus from other crops such as Tobacco to Maize alone.
This was said during a Cluster Committee on Agriculture Irrigation & Natural Resources and Climate Change on Thursday at Parliamentary in Lilongwe.
Chairperson of Parliamentary cluster Committee on Agriculture Irrigation Sameer Suleman told Journalists that it is very important as the country to set some targets and put a timeframe on the AIP so that the programme should be phased out.
Suleman added this can be beneficial to a lot of Malawians who are into different farming practices of different crops because the case on the ground is that a lot of money from the agriculture budget is going towards AIP.
“We have extension sites and so much more but our main focus has moved from other crops because of AIP and now the whole concentration has gone to Maize. Is that good for our country? the answer is no,” he explained.
He went on to say that the agriculture developmental programmes in the agriculture sector are donor funded, 87 percent of which shows that the country is doing very little in the development.
On her part, NASFAM Head of Policy and Communication Beatrice Makwenda said much is needed towards the improvement of agriculture diversification because it includes both crops and animals considering that looking at the assessment of level of investment it shows that it’s unbalanced limiting other areas.
Makwenda went on to say that for the diversification to happen there is a need to advise farmers towards other value chains and at the same time there is a need for marketing development because the production rate will not necessarily lead to growth but it will allow farmers to have food and income needed for the country’s economy.
NASFAM together with Action Aid is implementing accountability project focusing on both agriculture and health sector by looking at what is needed in terms of the public and involvement of citizen and in the budget allocation.
Significant funding shortfalls across East and Southern Africa as well as the Middle East have forced ration cuts upon some of the world’s most vulnerable people who rely on WFP food to survive. In East Africa alone, almost three-quarters of refugees have had their rations cut by up to 50 percent. In Southern Africa, refugees in Tanzania who depend entirely on WFP assistance have had their rations cut by almost one-third. Significant funding shortages for the Syria Regional Refugee Response mean 242,000 refugees in Jordan may be cut off from assistance at the end of August unless more funding is received.
“What we may be seeing is the impact of COVID-19 on donor government funding and this is negatively impacting our ability to respond and support some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” said Margot van der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies. “The lives of the most marginalized people in the world are on the line and we are urging donors not to turn their backs on refugees when they need it most.”
To avoid any cuts in food assistance – either through reduced rations or excluding people from assistance altogether –sufficient funding is needed at least one month ahead of the expected break in the flow of food to the refugee-hosting countries.
The increasing funding gaps intersect with rising food prices and fewer opportunities for refugees to supplement their food assistance as informal economies shrink due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Meanwhile, the number of people in desperate need is on the rise globally as conflict, disasters and economic meltdowns are driving up levels of hunger. WFP and other humanitarian agencies face brutal choices. In Rwanda, WFP has rolled out targeted food assistance prioritizing those most in need. Despite this, funding is so short that even the most vulnerable still aren’t receiving full rations, which come in the form of cash assistance.
“During COVID-19 lockdown, we couldn’t leave the camp and we couldn’t earn anything as all casual work outside the camp stopped,” said Ange, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) living in Rwanda. “The situation got worse when our food ration was reduced. My family started facing a serious food shortage.”
Some of the most underfunded WFP operations are also ones with significant refugee populations requiring support. For example, in Uganda WFP supports more than 1.2 million refugees which is 65 percent of the country operations. A country funding shortfall of more than 80 percent has had significant impacts on refugees who rely on WFP assistance.
As a new WFP report indicates a surge in people teetering on the brink of famine – which has risen from 34 million projected at the beginning of the year to 41 million projected as of June – it’s vital that the world steps forward to support the most vulnerable.
WFP refugee operations impacted by funding shortages:
Chad: New refugee influxes from Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) mean WFP may be forced to implement ration cuts and suspend/prioritize activities that will affect vulnerable groups depending on WFP’s support, particularly malnourished children.
Cameroon: WFP may be required to reduce the food rations for the most vulnerable beneficiaries, including 70,000 Nigerian and 100,000 CAR refugees.
Democratic Republic of Congo: In 2021, WFP has supported about 148,000 camp-based refugees in DRC, including the recent influx of about 92,000 refugees from CAR. Since May 2020, WFP DRC has been applying an average of 25% ration cuts to its refugee assistance programme.
East Africa: Funding shortfalls have forced ration cuts for over 3 million refugees of up to 60%. Rations were cut by 50% in South Sudan, 40% in Uganda and Kenya, 23% in Djibouti, 16% in Ethiopia and 8% in Rwanda.
Malawi: Under its refugee response, WFP Malawi rolled out cash-based transfers and kick-started livelihood support activities to enhance self-reliance for refugees. However, funding shortfalls have led to a 25% ration cut since July 2020.
Republic of Congo: WFP provides assistance to more than 20,000 refugees from CAR. Significant shortfalls have meant that food distribution cycles have been irregular.
Syria Refugee Regional: In the five countries where WFP supports Syrian refugees, USD 408 million is required for the next six months.
- In Jordan, at least 21,000 refugees will no longer receive WFP’s food assistance starting 1 July. If no additional funding materializes, WFP will have to cut off an additional 242,000 refugees at the end of August. Around 220,000 extremely vulnerable refugees in camps and communities will continue to receive WFP support through September.
- In Egypt, WFP – through joint targeting with UNHCR – is looking at prioritizing assistance to 110,000 people, reducing the number of beneficiaries by 20,000.
Tanzania: The WFP refugee operation faced significant funding shortfalls leading to ration cuts of up to 32 percent of the minimum calorie requirement since December 2020. Photos available here.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).
A message from Betty Meinhofer –
Some inspiration for those of you who are reluctant to start their own container garden. I live in a rented house and I’m able to grow my own vegetables in containers. These are few of my veges. I had harvested some of them, that’s why I’ve not shown all of them. The pictures show basil, coriander, tomatoes, mint, cucumber, maize and spinach.
A message from Rhuby AB Cia Lo –
A message from Lori Harris –
A message from Robert Chaseman – Wisconsin
It would certainly help Malawian families to produce more food crops
A message from Robin Morrill –
A message from Zia Ahmed :
I am growing 8 types of eggplants and 11 types of hot peppers in self-catering container systems.
Eggplants are in the 5-gallon buckets (double buckets)
and hot peppers are in the laundry buckets (soil media) + 4-gallon pots (water reservoirs).
Both are growing wonderful and start flowering. I live in zone-5.
A message from Aliddeki Jude – Living in Mobile
A message from Matahari Houri –
A message from Maurine Kipsang – Kenya
Photo’s Ionita Atrisman –
Offer them some papaya seeds to start with !
Photos Jarret Kinyua Maina – Kenya – https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=1945522918930129&set=pcb.927762318060701
Photos Faith Murithi – Kenya
Bell peppers and other speciess in pots – https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=484918729480046&set=pcb.927858314717768
Different vegetables in pots – https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=484918812813371&set=pcb.927858314717768
In pots and bottles – https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=484918812813371&set=pcb.927858314717768
A message from June Bug – Killeen, Texas – https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10159246140775270&set=pcb.923882158448717
And all these people, growing food crops in bags, sacks and big milk bottles in Kenya ? Are they so stupid to believe in it ?
A message from Jacy Swits – Nairobi, Kenya
Good morning Ninjas, update on my sukuma wiki and spinach. Newly added spring onions. Next will be Hoho,courgette and dhania.
Let the droughts come, we will continue to produce food crops
Sack gardening by Orina Dominic.
A message from Pharanda Finley –
Instead of sending development aid in wooden boxes or cardboard ones, send the goods in barrels. These can be used to stock water or they can be transformed in raised beds for the production of food crops.
Container gardens let you grow food in a small space
Growing vegetables or herbs doesn’t require a big space. Make a container garden. – https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/container-gardens-let-you-grow-food-in-a-small-space/2021/05/17/6c22e416-ac5f-11eb-acd3-24b44a57093a_story.html
By Haben KelatiMay 18, 2021 at 1:10 a.m. GMT+2
Growing your own food doesn’t require a big yard. Container gardening is a way for you to make the most out of limited outdoor space and grow vegetables and herbs that are found in most kitchens.
Gary Pilarchik of Glenelg, Maryland, runs a YouTube channel called “The Rusted Garden” (youtube.com/user/pilarchik), which has more than 500,000 subscribers. “I personally think it’s really important that you learn some skills to be more self-sufficient,” he said.
He adds that many people don’t know how their favorite foods are grown. For example, “a lot of people don’t know that radishes come out of the ground, not on vines,” Pilarchik said.
Container gardening starts with picking a pot that’s the correct size, he said. “A common mistake people make is they have too small of a pot for a mature-size plant,” he said.
If you want to grow one cherry tomato plant or a green bean plant, a five gallon pot is big enough. However, if you want to grow two of the tomato plants, a 10 gallon pot is necessary.
The type of pot is important, too. A pot made of fabric material will drain water on its own. “Basically [plants] need oxygen,” Pilarchik explains. “You don’t want wherever you’re planting to fill up with water — that can damage the plant roots.” If you get a non-fabric pot, ask an adult to drill or puncture a couple of small holes on the side or bottom for drainage.
You can buy seeds to plant. Or you can buy a “transplant,” which involves getting a tomato plant, for example, that has already grown two inches and planting it in your container.
For soil, any type of mix named “container” or “potting” can be used.
Pilarchik recommends watering most plants several times a week. “Because if they dry out just once, it damages the root system,” he said. If you touch the soil and you don’t feel moisture on your finger, it’s time to water the plant.
Plants also need nutrients such as potassium and phosphorus to grow. Once every two weeks, Pilarchik recommends mixing in a water-soluble (meaning it can dissolve in water) fertilizer with the water you’re going to give your plants.
And you shouldn’t forget about sunlight. Plants “need eight hours of sun. And that’s full sun — directly coming down on and contacting,” Pilarchik said.
Place your plant where you think it will get the best direct sunlight. That could be the steps by your front door or on a balcony.
An organization called Cultivate the City in Northeast Washington offers support for new gardeners through its rooftop garden center, H Street Farms. Cultivate the City founder Niraj Ray said the organization wants to help city residents grow plants.
“We’re always just thinking about what are the different things that we’re growing and how can we make that more accessible and more understandable to more people, so they can grow better,” Ray said.
H Street Farms has weekly classes that kids can attend. There is also a monthly class on container gardening.
Ray said gardening is about becoming self-sufficient. “We grow up in a very consumerist cultttfkdokgfsdokdoskure where we’re taught we need to buy everything,” he said. “I think growing plants and growing food is a really easy way to create something of value out of absolutely nothing.”
Do you know turnips? Maybe yes, but because they are generally unknown to many, let’s look at the “misunderstood” turnips, the way they are grown, their healing properties and their delicious secrets. Turnip or Brassica rapa, is a biennial herbaceous plant of the cabbage family. It is grown like cabbage, as it is a close relative. It originates from Siberia. Turnips were domesticated 40 centuries ago. Since then they are eaten, boiled, steamed, fried with beer, butter or fresh from the garden.
There are many varieties of it, which are distinguished by the shape, color and size of the roots. In its chemical composition it includes vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals and especially a rare substance glyukorafanin, plant “precursor” of sulforaphane, which has strong anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties.
Turnip is a vegetable known since antiquity, however in many countries it is not one of the most popular vegetables. It is cultivated mainly for the swollen shoot or turnip root on which the leaves of the plant grow. Turnip is eaten raw or boiled and can be white-green or violet. The quality of the turnip depends on the size, shape and scars that the leaves have left on it. Its leaves, which are eaten in salads or boiled to accompany meat or fish, are also edible.
A message from Robert Chaseman – Coon Valley, Wisconsin –
Lettuce and herbs are starting to look good!
A message from Ofelia Aplicador –
A message from Cristina Messick –