Container gardening could be the next best way to prepare for an emergency

Jul 21, 2022, 4:00 PM | Updated: Jul 29, 2022, 10:59 pm
Container gardening could be the way of the future, and to be certain you have food in an emergency. (Mathew Jentzsch)
(Mathew Jentzsch)

SALT LAKE CITY — Growing your own food with container gardening is a wonderful way to be better prepared for an emergency whether it is an earthquake, a food shortage caused by world events, or a buffer against rising food prices.

COVID’s effect on gardening

In fact, one of the few positive things to come from the COVID-19 pandemic may be that it brought about a resurgence in gardening.

Utah State University Extension horticulturist and host of the KSL Greenhouse Show, Taun Beddes, says people needed an outlet for stress during COVID.

“Anxiety increased with all the stress of the pandemic,” he said. “A proven way to decrease stress is gardening and generally working outside. Exercise and just being outdoors decreases stress.”

Beddes says it’s not surprising more people decided to take up gardening while they were in isolation.

“People had more time on their hands,” he said. “This caused shortages of garden seeds and fruit trees that we are still seeing today.”

The popularity of container gardening has also grown in the past decade as urban dwellers find themselves with less space to grow their own food.

“Anytime we see unsettled times the tendency to garden increases as a reaction to increase personal or family food security,” said Beddes. “With increasing population, there is not as much open ground to garden outdoors. The number of people without access to any ground has also increased due to home prices. Millennials and Gen Z also seem to have less of an attachment to single-family homes, but they still want to garden to produce at least some of their own food.”

While Utah has a relatively short gardening season, avid vegetable gardeners can tell you that they can easily grow enough produce to get them through the winter. This is something urban gardeners can also accomplish because even in a small space you can grow your own food.

Filler, spiller, thriller gardening

Horticulturist Mathew Jentzsch has been experimenting with 20-gallon containers. He says he had heard about the filler, spiller, thriller technique and thought why couldn’t he do the same thing with vegetables?

“I’ve just been experimenting with just how many vegetable plants can I get out of one 20-gallon container.”

He says that experimenting has led him to try and extend his growing season. He has extended it by using special covers he’s designed for large containers.

“If I start early, I can grow radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and carrots, and then as the season progresses, I usually put three tomatoes in there with a cucumber.”

He says he’s tried all sorts of combinations.


Horticulturist Mathew Jentzsch shows KSL’s Greenhouse hosts how to grow vegetables in containers. 

Jentzsch says his love of growing things has prompted him to help educate others on how to be successful.

“All I want them to do is expand their vision of what they can do so they can be a little more self-reliant, self-sufficient and enjoy gardening,” he said. “It improves well-being.”

Gardening in an urban environment

Whether you have a step, a balcony, or a rooftop, a container garden could be right for you.

“If you have a west or south-facing patio, it’s very possible to grow food,” said Beddes. “You need to make sure you have containers with drainage holes that are large enough to accommodate the plants.”

Beddes also says if people don’t have a patio, they can still grow plants indoors.

“If you don’t have a south or west window, you would need supplemental lighting,” he added. “Most herbs and veggies require at least six hours of sunlight daily. If people do not have access to direct light, they can use any number of light benches available online to provide more light.”

He says you can buy lighting kits online at any time or from local retailers in late winter. 

Beddes says container gardening can be just as fulfilling.

No matter if you have a large garden or one container, watching the miracle of plants growing that you have nurtured brings the satisfaction of knowing you grew your own food.”

For more information or tips, visit the Be Ready Utah website.

The KSL Greenhouse Show with Taun Beddes and Maria Shilaos can be heard Saturdays from 8-11 a.m.


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Container gardening could be the next best way to prepare for an emergency