Spring has sprung, the sun made a (brief!) return, and the nation now looks forward to warmer weather, longer evenings, and a season of outdoor relaxing and entertaining.
Eager gardeners will already have begun turning their outdoor space into a nature wonderland, with decorative plants and growing patches galore. However, for those short on outdoor space or with no garden at all, there are still plenty of ways to get growing.
Small containers are perfect to place on your deck, porch or windowsill, and The Original Factory Shop is on hand to help you get started with a round-up of fruits, herbs, and vegetables you can easily grow in containers, from sweet fruits and hot chillies to the humble tomato.
For more inspiration on home, garden and fashion essentials, head over to The Original Factory Shop Blog which will be offering an array of advice and handy tips to get you through the year.
Strawberries actually thrive in containers or pots as the plant is relatively small with a shallow root system. You will need a sunny spot for them to grow, such as by a window.
- Set plants into multi-purpose compost with adequate drainage
- Avoid overcrowding strawberries like their space
- The soil should stay damp but not soggy and never dry. To achieve this, water more often with less water.
Most strawberry plants put out runner plants, which is not too good for pots, so be sure to snip the runners as frequently as possible.
Top Tip: Temperature control is crucial for strawberries, so you want to avoid the roots’ temperature rising. Wrap kitchen foil around the pots to shade them and reflect the heat.
Basil is a firm favourite for adding flavour to your dishes and a great choice for pots on a deck or patio.
- If planting from seeds, plant 5-6 seeds per pot and use seed starter mix or potting soil.
- Mist it with water to keep the soil slightly damp but not soggy.
- Seeds should germinate in about a week. Easy!
Once the basil plants have a set of true leaves (not the first little seedling leaves), thin them down to 1-2 seedlings per pot. Water the soil but avoid watering the leaves.
Top Tip: Remember basil likes heat, staying watered, and room to grow.
Few other plants can match chillies for value, with one plant giving you around 100 chillies or more.
- Grow them on a windowsill where it is warm, allowing them to get at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.
- Use 3–4-inch pots. Some can be sown mid-January, though other varieties can be started in March or later.
- Water regularly, and once the chilli plant begins to flower feed it with a tomato fertiliser once a week.
Top Tip: Chilli seeds germinate best at 25ºC, so if not using a propagator (and it’s a little cold), then wrap the pot in a plastic bag to keep the heat in.
Peaches are synonymous with sunshine, but surprisingly it doesn’t take a lot of expertise to grow this sweet fruit at home.
You will, however, need a good deal of patience before the plants bear fruit. Many peaches can be grown in at least 45cm (18 inch) containers with soil-based compost.
Top Tip: Try patio peaches. They naturally dwarf and need little pruning to keep their shape.
One of the best ways to grow tomatoes is in hanging baskets. The most popular and best types to grow in baskets are cherry tomato tumblers. They are typically bush tomatoes which require very little work and hardly any pruning, unlike other varieties.
- Sow your tomato seeds between March and April. You should see them germinate within 7-14 days. Alternatively use 2-3 tomato plants.
- Go for a 35cm (14in) hanging basket and a good quality potting compost that has fertiliser mixed in.
- They will require sunlight to grow successfully and ripen, around 5-7 hours of sunlight per day, so place your hanging basket outside.
- Hanging baskets will need watering daily to keep the compost moist, or even twice on warmer days. Add tomato feed every 7 days or so to maximise your crop.
Top Tip: Mix water-storing granules into the compost, which will help retain moisture for longer.
The humble carrot, a staple of most evening meals, can surprisingly be grown in containers.
Carrots need free-draining lightweight soil that’s free of stones to give them the exact conditions they need. Therefore, growing carrots in deeper pots around 30-38cm (12-15 inches) deep is best with plenty of drainage holes, otherwise your carrots will rot from waterlogged soil.
- Space seedlings at least 1.5-2cm apart, cover with soil and water sparingly.
- As the plants grow, keep the soil well-watered and moist to prevent the roots from splitting but avoid waterlogging the soil.
Top Tip: If you don’t have a deep enough pot, opt for a shorter variety like Chantenay or Oxheart.