Not everyone has a lawn or even a backyard. Or perhaps they want to try their hand at a smaller organic garden. But that doesn’t mean that they’re out of luck. There’s a simple solution that provides the same benefits as raised beds: a container garden.
Decks or patios can be filled with a variety of pots, tubs, and window boxes in which to grow everything from strawberries to tomatoes. In fact, the only limit to the types of containers you can use is your imagination!
Another big advantage of container gardens is that they are portable, you can move them in and out of the sun as needed, and you can even take them with you if you move.
Types of Containers:
Clay and Terra Cotta These pots are attractive but tend to dry out quickly, so they need more regular watering. If your heart is set on this type of pot, you can line the inside with thin plastic to reduce the loss of moisture. Make sure to place the pots on feet which can be fashioned out of bricks or tiles, to maintain good drainage. Remember that clay can crack during cold weather so choose pots that are frost-proof.
Plastic Pots The advantage to using plastic is that it is lightweight, they retain moisture better than clay and don’t crack in cold weather. There are even plastic pots that look like terra cotta.
Metal Pots If you’re looking for a contemporary look, then metal pots offer a variety of modern styles. They are frost-proof and can be light-weight if that’s one of your requirements. However, they do tend to conduct heat and cold quickly, so they’re not the best choice for areas in areas with extreme cold.
Wooden Planters Wood rots so they have a limited lifespan although you can slow down the process by lining the inside with plastic sheeting or landscape fabric. Planters made of cedar or redwood will last the longest.
Recycling and Repurposes
Here’s where your imagination comes into play. Everything from an old toilet to old kettles can become part of your container garden.
There are a few things to consider when you start a container garden:
• Ensure that the container size is appropriate for what you want to grow.
• Good drainage is imperative! A waterlogged container will lead to root rot. You can drill additional holes in the base of your container if necessary.
• Potting soil needs to be moist at all times so don’t rely on rainfall because it may not be heavy enough to reach the roots. This is especially important if you’re using pots that dry out quickly.
• The soil you use should be light and free draining. It can either be a water-retentive soilless mix or you can make your own potting mix by combining loam, peat moss, and vermiculite. We’ll discuss soil preparation in more detail below.
• Your plants are in a relatively small amount of potting mix, so they’ll have limited nutrients. Frequent watering also flushes nutrients out. Using an organic fertilizer with the proper balance will make up for this.
Many people across the globe want to start a garden in order to eat healthier and to save money on their grocery bills, but not everyone has the space available to them. If you’re tight on space but big on ideas, perhaps you should think about planting a container garden.
Herbs Are Easy
Herbs are so easy to grow and require such little maintenance that anyone thinking about starting a container garden should start out with some basil, oregano, etc. It will give you the experience necessary to grow other things in other containers, and you’ll definitely save a lot of money and experience much better flavor in your dishes.
Vegetables in Containers
When it comes to veggies in containers, the sky is really the limit, but you do want to keep things simple. Think about vegetables that aren’t going to grow to be really tall. You want to avoid tomatoes and onions. You could try some root vegetables, like carrots, turnips, fennel, and other types of produce. Also, think about something that grows one plant per one seed, not something that gives you a bushel (like potatoes, peas, green beans, etc).
As touched on above, you want to avoid anything that can grow to be really tall or that grows in a bushel. You may also want to avoid anything that’s going to grow to be too large! For instance, cucumbers might seem like a good idea if you’re going to pick them when they’re small, but they can sprout out easily and overtake the container unless you’re constantly paying attention.
Size of the Container
The size of the container you use all depends on the plants you’re growing. If you’re only growing herbs, then a small-sized flower pot will definitely do the trick. For root veggies, you want to go with something a little deeper, giving you about 12 inches of soil. And if you really wanted to do some tomatoes or something like that, go with a wider container. A 5-gallon bucket would definitely work for larger items.
Sunlight and Water
Plants need as much light as possible. Sunlight is their food, so think about putting your containers in a location where they get sun from mid-morning all the way up until the evening. If your containers are small enough, you can even transport them to follow the sun. In terms of water needs, you should water your plants once every two days. Wait until the sun is about to go down.
Pests love plants for some reason, and it doesn’t matter where your plants are located, pests are going to find them. Pests will not only plague your container plants, but you may actually have to deal with more of them. The reason here is that your containers provide less produce to pick at than a full-sized garden, so the pests will be drawn to it, like the bugs to your back porch light. So remember that you have to keep the pests away.
You can definitely grow fruits in containers, depending on which types of fruits you want to grow. Buckets are great for cantaloupes and honeydew melons. Little baskets are perfect for strawberries and other types of berries (even tomatoes if your containers are outside). You can find a wide range of fruits to grow.
Although it takes a lot of the work away in terms of digging and weeding, planting a garden in containers is still a big responsibility. So it’s important that you take it seriously. Use these tips to help guide you through the process.