Growing Vegetables in Containers at the Fair

This year, we’re growing vegetables in containers for our educational display at the Minnesota State Fair. Even though the containers have been at the fair more than a week now, they still look good. This year’s display helps fairgoers see how easy it is to grow vegetables in containers and how productive those containers can be.

Growing vegetables in containers has several advantages and a few challenges compared to vegetables in the ground.

red pepper growing vegetables in container

These Brazilian Star Fish peppers grew well in a grow bag with caging. Aren’t they a pretty fruit?

Container Advantages

Because you use a potting mix, vegetables grown in containers tend not to have the soil-borne diseases so common in tomatoes and other vegetables. You can place the containers in the ideal spot in your yard for sun, and one of the biggest advantages of containers, is that anyone with a little outside space can enjoy growing vegetables. The pots and grow bags we are using at the fair would look great on a balcony or deck. You can even use straw bales to grow vegetables!

Container Considerations

If you decide to grow vegetables in container, be sure to choose a container that is large enough to grow and support the plant you want to grow. Herbs, such as parsley or basil, can be grown in fairly small containers while tomatoes require a larger pot. For my home garden, I chose containers with a diameter of 18 inches or more. At the fair, we chose a variety of container sizes and all of them seem to be doing well. The University of Illinois has a helpful chart on which size of container to choose for various vegetables.

checking out growing vegetables in containers

A fair visitor checks out the tomatoes growing in containers at the MSHS Educational Display.

No matter what the size of you container, be sure to add appropriate caging and staking for the plants you want to grow. All of our containers at the fair have sturdy cages to keep the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants we grew upright.

Growing vegetables in containers also requires more watering than those in the ground and making sure the potting soil has plenty of nutrients. Adding compost when you plant the vegetables is a good idea and you may want to add additional nutrients during the growth season. I use compost tea or diluted fish emulsion on my container tomatoes.

Enter the Drawing

This year, we will be having a drawing after the fair for visitors to our educational booth. Be sure to sign up to win a fabulous container planting designed by Heidi Heiland of Heidi’s GrowHaus, a $25 Seed Savers Exchange Gift Card, a Bloem Bagz Pocket Planter or a copy of the book, Pot it, Grow it, Eat it: Homegrown Produce from Pot to Pan by Kathryn Hawkins. The drawing will be held Sept. 6. You don’t need to be present to win.

It’s the last weekend — we hope to see you at the fair!



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