Portugal: Growing Fruit and Vegetables in Containers – July

My container gardening diary continues…

The temperatures in July, after scorching winds, soared into the 30Cs and certainly tested my tenacity and ability to grow fruit and vegetables in containers.

Unlike cacti, succulents, hibiscus and the other variety of plants I grow,  container grown fruit and vegetables are certainly more challenging for the novice gardener. However, I am pleased to report the only casualty during July was my sage plant. Why did it die? I just don’t know. But as you can see it’s certainly dead. Not enough water or too much? I tested both theories as I watched its demise.

I killed my sage plant
I killed my sage plant

Growing Chili Peppers in Pots

Chilies have to be the easiest plant to grow in containers!

Unfortunately, we do not eat a tremendous amount of chili, perhaps we should.  However, they will be put to good use as chilies are one of the ingredients in an organic insect deterrent. And, according to Wikipedia chilies are also an effective crop defense against elephants in South AFrica. I won’t get to test the theory, but it’s reassuring to know.

Are these Cayenne Peppers or a Thai Jalapeno?
Are these Cayenne Peppers or a Thai Jalapeno?

I thought these were Jalapeño peppers until I looked on Wiki, now I’m not so sure. Further research on pepper identification page revealed they could either be Cayenne Peppers or a Thai Jalapeno?

What do you think?

Whatever they are, they grow very well in pots! In fact, just like weeds as these grew from the seeds from a pepper I was given.

Piri Piri are so easy to grow in containers
Piri Piri are so easy to grow in containers

Growing Cucumbers in Pots

Cucumber in Pots
Cucumber in Pots

The cucumbers WERE growing really well, but this photograph was taken in July. The photo below taken just a couple of weeks later in August tells a different story. More details about their demise and possible causes can be found on my new gardening blog Piglet’s Plot in Portugal

Cucumber leaves with brown spots
Cucumber leaves with brown spots

Growing Peppers in Pots

I transplanted the orange bell peppers into larger pots, fed with MiracleGro and they began to thrive. I was eventually rewarded with my first orange pepper.

My first orange bell pepper grown in a pot
My first orange bell pepper grown in a pot

They take such a long time to ripen I now know WHY they are so expensive to buy. However, reading Enjoying Gardening blog I discovered a great tip:

Orange bell peppers can be picked as soon as they start showing color and then they’ll ripen in the house. The plant will then be able to produce more peppers.

I use this technique for tomatoes, but it never occurred to me to apply the same principle to ripen bell peppers!

Growing potatoes in pots

The seed potatoes planted on the 23/6 are growing well. I continue to earth up the new shoots as I understand the potatoes grow on green stems. The earth is now half way up the pots.

Potatoes growing in pots 17/07/12
Potatoes growing in pots 17/07/12

Growing tomatoes in Pots

As you can see from the photograph we now have an abundance of ripe cherry tomatoes. The “miscellaneous” baby tomato plants donated by a friend when I murdered my first batch of plants are doing well but as yet no sign of ripening tomatoes.

Growing cherry tomatoes in pots
Growing cherry tomatoes in pots

Baby beef tomatoes plants donated by another friend are alive and well and I should begin to see a crop in early September.

Growing Green beans in pots

I am already harvesting a crop of  the “contender” green beans planted from seed on the 3/6 in the raised vegetable area. Due to lack of space I planted some more contender bean seeds in a large pot on the 31/7  as an experiment.  I wonder what the yield will be. Mental note: weigh them to assess yield.

Growing rhubarb in pots

I picked some rhubarb stalks this month – just enough to make a small dessert. However, when chatting to a rhubarb expert he was horrified I’d picked anything until the plant was at least 3 yrs old! I consider myself well and truly reprimanded and look forward to a well deserved feast next year.

Growing Strawberries in containers

By the end of July my strawberry plants had all but ceased producing fruit. Instead, their energy focused on producing masses of baby strawberry plants in the form of runners.  Over the next month I will pot these up while they are still attached to the mother plant for next years crop.


The lime tree although happy in it’s new location now has a dose of “citrus leaf miner”. Great, there is never a dull moment! Poor thing only has a few leaves.
I made up a concoction of sunflower oil and washing up liquid diluted with water which I sprayed on both sides of the leaves. While I can’t kill existing bugs, the solution apparently deters new ones from settling. We will see!

Other Fruits

Tayberry, blackberry, blackcurrant, red current, blueberry and raspberry bushes – I now have a great selection of bushes ready for planting. Mr. Piglet is going (promised) to help me clear some ground and erect a fruit frame.  I intend to plant the bushes in huge bottomless pots as the hedge roots are invasive. “Hopefully” my plan will at least give the plants a fighting chance. Anyone tried growing any of the above fruit bushes in very large containers?

Black fig tree – This continues to grow well and is producing masses of leaves. The fruit, however, just shrivels and falls off. I’ve since been advised it would be better to rehome my fig tree in the ground as fig trees have a very vigorous root system. I’m undecided, anyone else out there growing a fig tree in a pot?

Lemon tree – Continues to bear fruit, but still plagued by the orange scale. I need to treat this again.

Related posts
Portugal: Growing Fruit and Vegetables in Pots – June
Problem Cucumbers – Is it Anthracnose, Downy Mildew or…?
Garden Diary: Container Gardening – Cochonilhas or Mealybugs?
How did I kill my tomato plants?
Global Warming and Zucchini
Growing fruit and vegetable in December

Please don’t forget if you have any suggestions on growing fruit and veg in pots or would like to share your experience, please share in comments below!


44 thoughts on “Portugal: Growing Fruit and Vegetables in Containers – July

Add yours

  1. My neighbour never waters the garden.
    Interesting advice from sarsm. The advice is normally less water is better. Let us know if it works.
    Do you know anything about the pepper tree? can you use the seeds as peppercorns? I have been given conflicting information as to whether they are edible or not.


  2. We must try the tomatoes in pots, as the ones planted in the ground never amounted to anything! Now the potatoes in pots, that´s new to me, I thought they would need lots of space to multiply. We have had a good crop of potatoes and sweet potatoes from planting the little stems coming from potatoes we had in our pantry from the supermarket. You seem to be doing well in your garden Carole.


    1. Hi Sami,
      IMHO the best tomatoes we have grown in pots to date are the cherry tomatoes. They ripen quicker and are oh so tasty. The larger tomatoes planted at the same time are still green and although Ive staked them as best I can in pots they are too heavy.

      the potatoes are new to me also. A friend kept ging me potatoes she had grown in pots. Then one day she arrived with 3 pots and 2 seed potatoes. So no more procrastinating for Piglet!


  3. Well, 🙂 ! , back for a few answers!! Fertilizers: somewhat depends – potted cow manure [away from the stems] initially, then almost whatever is on hand: liquid mixes, esp those meant for flowers/fruits [ie rich in phosphous & potassium], seaweed solutions, vegetable pot granules, shredded banana peels etc. Talk to the plants: hmm, I find it difficult to have time to talk to those on two legs [:D !] – if they behave, I suppose when I am watering and weeding and fertilizing – multi-tasking!!!!!


    1. Hi eha, I’ve just aquire some horse manure. The guy thought he had given me gold I was that grateful 🙂 I am going to soak some and then dilute and make a liquid fetisliser and the rest on my compost heap. No cows near us. I’ve discovered the MiracleGro fertilizer works really well, only trouble is cant buy it here and have to have it delivered from UK.

      A fellow pot buddy who lives in an apartment and has 100’s of pots was investigating a worm composter. HAve you tried that?

      Interesting you also use banana peel – I’ve also started adding ground eggshell to the earth as well.


  4. Hi PiP!
    We’ve recently built a wall from concrete pots and planted flowers, tomatoes and herbs.
    My sage looked dodgy at first (I’ve never been able to keep it alive in the house, so presumed it would die outside too), then we had storm after storm of torrential rain and it grew like mad. I took from that that it loves water. So I almost drown it most evenings, with my watering can and it seems quite happy. Hope that helps!


  5. Hi Eha – welcome back 🙂 🙂 That’s a lot of pots!

    Interesting point about time 🙂
    Weeds, I’ll have to photograph my weeds, because they are a real pain. They are like ground cover and grow like, well – weeds very fast.

    What do you use as a fertiliser?

    and the burning question…how much time do you spend talking to your plants?


  6. Sorry to be back, but so many readers seem interested in growing – some worry about the time factor. Don’t! But one [or a dear friend] more or less has to be there daily during the season. I have about 120-150 pots [many small for herbs] : 10 minutes watering in the morning, perhaps five at night if it has been a blistering day; one hour max/week weeding; if you pull the weeds out by the roots, they usually do not regrow; about 10-15 minutes fertilizing once a week! So for my lot, about 3 hours per week: but it has to be regular 🙂 ! And for pots I only grow the various baby tomatoes: six pots set me up for four months last year – a large handful/day, sufficient for me and friends since I live on my own 🙂 !


  7. Sad to see the sage lose it’s battle to survive but most of your plants seem to be very happy. I am told figs need lots of water and do have a large root system. Most of the roots of next door’s fig are in our garden!. How is your olive tree? I have just discovered that my olive tree, which is in the ground has a disease, so I won’t be getting many olives from it this year. This gardening game is a lot tougher than I thought!


    1. Hi Clara, I was gutted over the sage. It’s the third one. I have another tiny one growing in the garden, but it’s 50/50. A friend just emailed me to say she HAD 52 green figs and 36 black figs on her trees in pots. Unfortunately, the dog ate them! I think if I’d ahve got that far I would have cried 😦 Re. your neighbours fig tree, perhpas you give your garden more water 🙂

      Shame about the olive tree 😦 Any idea what the disease is? You ahve just reminded me to go and check my live trees.


  8. What a fabulous round up of your vegetable pots, you certainly seem to have done well. Long live your apotment and RIP your sage.


  9. What right do I have to give ‘vegetables grown in pots’ lessons from SE Australia on a Sunday afternoon? NONE!! Accepted! Except have grown them in thus way for some 20 years. On a concrete platform against a deadly hot/or winter icy cold brick wall aside my home! First, forget the taties: too much work for zilch! A multitude of herbs easy, fun and useful; baby tomatoes yes, yes, yes; peppers & cucs fun if you can be bothered! Watering has to be steady & even& regular: your cucs have wilt [fungus], which may not damage the fruit; you DID kill your salvia with underwatering [I sound like your primary school teacher, don’t I]. Strawberries absolutely the best for the pots – I usually get a 4-month harvest picking a handful daily! Limes and lemons best in builtup garden beds but quite OK in big pots 🙂 !! Basic lesson: water thoroughly right around the rootline, but better leave the foliage alone – hence the fungal infections!! Yoicks, I better go and hide my head in a corner!!!!!!!


    1. Hi Eha, thank you! I appreciate your suggestions 🙂 It does not matter where we live as the priciples, diseases and pests are exactly the same!

      Ah so it was underwatering…ew. my sage (salvia) I seemed to be always watering it . It’s my third attempt. I particulary wanted to grow this herb as I make sage and onion stuffing to go with chicken. The one in the garden is also fighting for life. Cuc’s and peppers are very expenisve here so my plan is to TRY and grow a more or less continues crop along with the tomatoes and strawberries. Dream on Piglet! 🙂 I can at least try.


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