Simple Steps to Success: Fruit and Vegetables in Pots ,

Step 1: Raise Squash

Summer squashes include custard whites, patty pans and scallop forms. Pumpkins, butternuts and the small green and white ‘Sweet Dumpling’ are winter types.

Fun to grow, both summer and winter squashes come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. They are hungry, fast-growing, trailing plants, but there are also smaller bush types and less vigorous climbers that are more suited to pots. Sow seed one-inch deep indoors in small pots in mid-spring or outdoors under cloches in late spring. Harden off plants before planting in large pots of multipurpose compost mixed with rotted manure. After the frosts have passed, place pots in a sunny site, and cover young plants with cloches during cold spells. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Water well and feed weekly with tomato fertilizer about a month after planting. Limit winter squashes to three fruits per plant so they reach a good size; you can leave all the fruits on summer forms. Harvest summer squashes from midsummer and eat fresh. To store winter types, from late summer leave skins to harden in the sun, and cut the stems before the first frosts.

Step 2: Raise Zucchini

Colorful woven bags make good homes for zucchini and all forms of squash. These strong plastic bags can be washed and reused year after year.

These summer vegetables are incredibly productive, and most have a bushy, rather than trailing, habit, making them perfect for small spaces. Zucchini need warmth to grow well and will not tolerate frost, so sow indoors, one-inch deep in small pots in mid-spring, or wait until warmer late spring weather to sow outside. Gradually acclimatize young plants to outdoor conditions before planting out into large pots or growing bags when there is no risk of frost. Place in a sunny, sheltered spot. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Zucchini are fast-growing plants and need a plentiful supply of water to keep them healthy in containers. They also require feeding every week with a tomato fertilizer. Once flowering is underway the fruits develop rapidly, so check daily to catch zucchini while they are small and sweet, because when missed they seem to turn into marrows almost overnight. Cut fruits with a knife or twist firmly near the stem. 

Step 3: Raise Corn

Sow corn seed thinly in trays, pushing them just beneath the surface, and wait until the roots have reached the bottom of the tray before planting out.

Corn grown in pots will not produce enormous yields, but the tall plants are beautiful and fresh cobs temptingly sweet and tender. Intolerant of frost, the fruits need a long, warm season to ripen, so start early by sowing seed in trays indoors in mid-spring or outdoors under cloches in late spring. Never sow into cold, wet soil, as this will produce poor results. Harden off young plants and plant out at least 10 inches apart in large containers filled with multipurpose compost. Place pots on “feet” to raise them off the ground, which ensures the good drainage that these plants require, and stand in a sheltered site in full sun. Group plants together in blocks for good pollination, unless growing mini corn, which does not need to be pollinated. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Water consistently to produce juicy kernels, but only expect one or two cobs per plant. Mini corn is ready when the tassels at the cob tips start to emerge. Mature cobs are ripe when the tassels turn brown and the kernels are pale yellow. Pick when ripe and use immediately or freeze.

Step 4: Raise Cucumbers

Small-fruited cucumber cultivars are popular because they produce a succession of fast-maturing, tasty fruits in summer. Many also offer good disease resistance.

Cucumbers have a reputation for being difficult to grow, but given warm, sheltered conditions and fertile, well-drained compost, outdoor ridge types are otherwise undemanding. The smooth-skinned longer types need more heat and must be grown under cover, ideally in a conservatory or greenhouse, since they need space to mature. If pollinated, their fruit is bitter, so choose “all-female” cultivars bred to prevent this problem. Sow the seed of both types of cucumber indoors in mid-spring, 1-inch deep in small pots. Harden off ridge cucumbers and plant outside when the risk of frost has passed. One plant will fill a large pot. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Protect from slugs after planting outside and cover young plants with a cloche in cold weather. Once established, cucumbers quickly become sprawling plants and are best trained up trellis, stakes, or netting. Water well and feed weekly with tomato fertilizer once the first fruits can be seen forming behind the faded blooms. Pick fruits as they mature from midsummer to encourage the production of more. 

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