For the first three years of our marriage, Courtney and I lived in an apartment that didn’t even have a yard, it had a 4 foot by 8 foot balcony and that was it. We went to the local farmers market every week to get most of our produce. We did do our fair share of container gardening, though. And we will be back to that again this summer. The new place we’re renting has a bunch of landscaping in the back yard and I don’t want to disturb that, so I’ll be back to container gardening.
My plan is to get a bunch of those plastic 55 gallon drums and cut them in half. Drill four 1/2″ holes in the bottom for drainage and place large rocks over the holes before filling with soil. I’ve done this before with much success. You can get the drums for free or $10 a piece on craigslist. If you have to move them when they’re full, you can use a dolly and a rope to hold the drum against the dolly.
If you need proof of success, here it is: the beautiful dahlia that is at the top of our blog homepage was grown in one of those containers I describe. We grew plenty of tomatoes and peppers too. With container gardening you need to be more careful about watering. Over-watering will cause nutrients to leech out of the soil. And because you’re working with a confined environment, your risk of drying out is higher. That is one great reason why larger pots are better – you’ve got a little buffer in the water holding capacity.
There will be a finite amount of soil that you can fit in that pot, therefore a finite amount of nutrients available to the plant. I’m far from being an expert on this one, but we bought some sort of organic fertilizer pellets that stunk like dead fish and sprinkled those around periodically. We experienced good results, but I’m sure you could do better. Every plant type has different needs and a little research in a few of the Rodale Gardening books at the library could tell you more than you would ever need.