Are you thinking about growing produce in a container vegetable garden this spring? Maybe you live in an urban setting and just don’t have space for a sprawling outdoor garden. Or, perhaps you just want to scale back on your gardening efforts and find something less demanding.
Whatever your reason for container gardening, it will take a little bit of planning, but not a lot of work. That’s the beauty! However, one of the last things that is often considered is the importance of the type of containers that should be used to grow edible produce.
While recycling old tires, metal containers, discarded wooden boxes, and plastic bottles are useful when it comes to growing flowers, they’re not good choices when growing vegetables that you plan on eating.
The material used to produce pots, buckets, and other common containers can harbor unhealthy and even dangerous chemicals or metals that can leach into the root system of vegetable plants. Using wooden containers that are built from treated wood isn’t a good idea either for the same reasons.
Even some clay pots that are glazed with ornamental paint can contain lead and other metals or chemicals which are harmful to human health. So, while it’s fun to devise a beautiful container garden, when it comes to vegetables, put health safety first.
Perfect Containers for Your Container Vegetable Garden
Here’s 3 food grade container ideas for growing healthy, organic food.
1. Natural Clay or Terracotta Pots – Stone containers, such as terracotta or clay are good options for food grade vegetable gardening. Take care to choose pots that are NOT glazed and previously used.
At least know where they came from, if you are thinking about recycling any pots. Who knows what they have been exposed to previously if they are being reused. Clay and terracotta is porous and can easily soak up unhealthy materials when used for other purposes.
2. Wood – Wood is a common material used to build container boxes for gardens. You can also purchase pre-built boxes in a variety of styles and sizes that are perfect. Never use treated wood for your container vegetable garden. Also, don’t stain or seal the wood with unsafe products. The best types of wood to use for gardening purposes are:
They are rot resistant and can last for many years. In fact, Cedar and Redwood can last up to 20 or more years, while Juniper can last upwards of an astounding 50 years! Building your own small container
boxes out of wood can be an investment in your container garden for years to come. Plus, you can be assured of a safe, natural place to grow healthy, organic vegetable plants.
3. Five Gallon Plastic Buckets – Yes, it’s true. You can actually purchase food grade, PBA free, five gallon plastic buckets in which to plant your vegetable garden. These particular buckets
are now commonly available at local stores like Lowe’s and Walmart. In fact, they actually are designated food grade and PBA free for gardening purposes. If you aren’t sure where to find them at your local store, just ask a store employee. You can bet they’ve been asked that question before!
Never use typical 5 gallon paint buckets or other recycled plastic containers. Not only have they been exposed to unhealthy chemicals, but they most likely were manufactured with a variety of dangerous
products. Renee Miller from SFGate.com explains, “To determine whether a container is made of recycled plastic, look for the recycling symbol on the base of the container.
Pay particular attention to the recycle numbers on the container, which can tell you whether or not the plastic used has a high or low risk of leaching chemicals. Avoid plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7. The number 3 refers to vinyl or PVC (polyvinylchloride). PVC contains chlorine and can release dangerous dioxins.
The number 6 indicates the container contains polystyrene, which can leach potential toxins. The number 7 refers to a variety of plastic resins that don’t fit into the previous categories. Polycarbonate is one of these plastics, which contains hormone disrupters.”
If you want to use five gallon buckets for container gardening, use food grade, PBA free buckets. They are very inexpensive and easy to use.
Creating your container vegetable garden starts with picking the perfect containers to grow healthy produce for you and your family to enjoy. Use one of these food grade container suggestions and get
started planting your food factory right in your own backyard!