vegetable patch management
general pots
Growing plants in pots is a useful way to maximise the space you have available to grow food in your back yard.  This page looks at the different sizes and types of pots available and the purposes they can be used for.

uses of pots
Pots can be used for a number of gardening purposes.
  • Make use of concreted areas where no vegetable garden can be set up.

  • Be able to grow frost and cold sensitive plants in areas protected from the elements such as patios or verandas.

  • When you are likely to be moving house and would like to take part of your garden with you when you move.

  • To grow herbs and picking vegetables right at your Kitchen door.
Pots sizes
Photo of different size pots
Foreground: 29, 24 and 19 cm black plastic pots. Background: 50 cm glazed pot (left) and 48 cm Decor Roman self watering pot.

Decor Georgian 38 cm self watering pots with coriander and French tarragon.   This size pot is ideal for growing herbs.

Photo of a self watering and general platic pots.
Strawberry Guava (left) and Wurtz avocado in pots under a back veranda.   Frost sensitive plants such as these can be grown in frost prone areas if they can be protected from the elements.

Photo of a styrofoam box planted with picking lettuces
Styrofoam fruit box planted with young picking lettuces.
Sizes can and should vary depending on what your are planting, however what must be kept in mind when choosing pots is that the smaller the pots the more quickly they will dry out in warm weather, which means they will have to be watered more frequently.  Below are the recommended uses for pots based on the width of the pot mouth.

  • Less than 25cm
    Best used only for temporary plantings such as growing small plants in preparation for potting up into larger pots.   They can be used to grow small seasonal herbs such as basil but unless you are on a very tight budget it is better to use slightly larger pots.

  • 25 to 40 cm
    Suitable for growing, herbs, picking lettuces and small shrubs.

  • Larger than 40 cm
    Suitable for growing large shrubs and dwarf trees.  Though keep in mind that very large pots can be difficult to move.

Pots types
As well as size you have to consider the type of pots you want.

  • Plastic pots
    Cheaper than terracotta or glazed pots and much lighter, which means they are easier to move.  Black plastic pots are useful for growing plants that require warm soil, such as basil, as black absorbs more heat than lighter colours.

  • Plastic self watering pots
    These pots have a water well at the base of the pot that stores a reserve water supply.  The great advantage of them is that they don't have to be watered as frequently as standard pots.  And, like all plastic pots, they are pretty light and therefore easier to move.  Their main disadvantage is that some plants don't thrive in the moister conditions created by these pots.   They are also more expensive than standard plastic pots, though on a pretty similar price to terracotta and glazed pots.
  • Terracotta pots
    Cheaper than glazed pots.  However they are unsealed, which means they lose a lot of water through the porous sides of the pot through evaporation.  This does not happen with glazed pots.  Though there is a special paint that can be applied to the inside of terracotta pots to seal them, however I have never tried this.
  • Glazed pots
    More expensive than terracotta pots but as the glazing is waterproof there is no loss of water from side evaporation
  • Styrofoam boxes
    Styrofoam broccoli and fruit boxes make excellent containers for grown in herbs and picking vegetables.  These are especially good for people on a low budget as (here in Australia) you can get them for nothing at greengrocers.  They have an added advantage in that the Styrofoam insulates the soil from the extremes of hot and cold.  The only disadvantage being that you cannot put a saucer under them to catch excess water.
  • Other pots
    Of course there are other types of pots available, such as terrazzo and concrete, but as I have not used them I feel I can't comment about their merits.  But whatever pots you chose always remember: bigger is better.