Anyone can grow plants in containers. An incredible diversity of flowers, fruits and vegetables exist that can be grown in a container. Lots of fun and satisfaction can be derived from growing beautiful healthy, colorful plants in pots or hanging baskets. Growing vegetables can provide you with a healthy alternative to bought packaged items. Children in particular love to see fast growing vegetables such as lettuce and radishes developing so quickly in front of their eyes. You never know, they might also be encouraged to eat them.
The pots available come in an amazing variety of sizes and shapes. Anything from a mini pot that may contain a mini cactus, through to a trough for vegetables or flowers. Or you may choose to use an old container you found at a second hand store. I have seen many items such as large cans, old wheel barrows and metal washing machine inserts, converted into container gardens.
Over the years I have seen some amazing container gardens, full of color and variety, that obviously give there owners many hours of pleasure.
WHAT IS CONTAINER GARDENING:
Container gardening is the practice of growing plants in a container rather than planting it directly into the ground. This method of gardening is normally utilized in small gardens, or in units, where the owner has a restricted area available to them. Even a small balcony or patio can have a container garden incorporated.
ADVANTAGES OF CONTAINER GARDENING
It is unnecessary to own a large plot of land in order to have a pretty garden. You can make a garden in just about any space, no matter the size. It’s even possible to have one inside your home. All you need is an area that receives sufficient light and ample amounts of sunshine. Many people have built container gardens on their patios, decks or balconies or even on small concreted areas in their backyards. It’s even possible to construct one on your window sill.
Container gardening very is easy, even for a beginner, and is a good idea especially If you live in an apartment or have a small yard. There are many types of fruits and vegetables which are suitable to grow in the containers including eggplant, squash, green onions, green beans cucumbers, tomatoes and more. Some climbing plants will need some supports such as wire trellis’s or bamboo cane, where the plants can be tied to keep them upright.
Container Gardening Ideas: For the Beginner Gardener
Looking for the right gardening tips for beginners? Look no further! Here are tips to help you get started with your new garden quickly and cheaply.
1. Plants or vegetables suitable for container gardening
Not every variety of kind of vegetable or plant is suitable to be grown in containers. In the vegetable range you will usually have to pick dwarf varieties. However, there are many vegetables that are suitable for container growing. Plants such as beans, Mini Tomato’s, lettuce, and small peppers are ideal. Other varieties include radish’s, baby carrots and dwarf purple french beans. There is even a miniature dwarf eggplant available.
There are a wonderful array of plants that can be grown in containers. From very colorful annuals, such as petunia’s, through to small shrubs like Asters, Tulips, Daffodils, Hippeastrum. Daylilies even miniature Agapantha’s’s.
What you grow in your containers will depend on such factors as:
- Climate… The climate zone you live in. Succulents and cacti might prefer a hotter, drier zone.
- Micro climate… The climate that your garden may consist of, for example, brick walls often warm up an area.
- Personal preference’s. What colors and shapes you personally like.
- Availability. What plants are available at your local garden center.
2. Suitable container to use
Almost any type of container can be used, just make sure it is big enough and has plenty of drainage holes. If possible choose a light colored pot as they are cooler in the hotter months and conserve heat less than darker colored pots so won’t cause the soil to overheat as readily.
However, you can alter the black pots by giving them a touch up with some light colored paint. Use a drip tray under the pots to help conserve water.
There are many pot designs available today that have their own mini water reservoirs attached.
Hanging baskets are also a fantastic way of adding more plants and color to your garden. If you have the room to place a few hooks or rods high up in your courtyard, you will be able to add these amazing features.
3. Ideal locations for container gardening
You can place your pots on a balcony or patio but make sure they will be in the sunshine for most of the day, but have protection from any hot afternoon sun. Most vegetables will need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day to grow well. However, the amount of time a flowering or colorful leaf plant will require is dependent on the variety you choose. Always check the plant label for these details.
In colder climates in the Northern hemisphere, it’s a good idea to place them against a wall that faces south. You could also put the pots on a movable platform so that you can move them around to get sunlight from every direction which will result in more even growth and allows you to move them out of the sun in the hottest part of the day.
4. How you should plant your vegetables
You will need to use a good quality potting compost. The ordinary garden soil is not recommended for container gardening as it may not have the right balance of nutrients and may contain pests and weed seed. The vegetables can be bought as young transplants or you could grow them indoors or in a greenhouse from seed.
When you plant them in pots, place some mulch on the top of the soil to help conserve moisture. You could use some sort of mulch such as pebbles or straw or even bark pieces. It is possible to purchase colored bark pieces that will help bring the pot alive with vibrant clor tones.
5. Watering schedule
Most containers will only be needed to be watered once a week. This will depend on the climate. During very hot spells they might need watering every three to four days. The opposite is true for situations where the weather is very cold or wet, once a week may be too much.
Don’t water directly on the plants but around their bases, as water on the leaves can encourage mold and fungus. Don’t allow the pots to become waterlogged but make sure the drainage is adequate.
Fertilizers to use and how to apply:
It is recommended that you use either a half strength liquid fertilizer, such as sea weed extract, every fortnight, and do it alternately with your watering routine. Every six months I would add a slow release fertilizer. You shouldn’t need to add the slow release type with the initial planting as most modern potting mediums include it in their mix. This would guarantee that only vivacious and healthy plants will thrive in your garden.
If the dying/dead plant is just becoming an eyesore and really beyond hope, take it out of the container and replace it with a new and healthy plant. Last, but not least, if your plant is clearly suffering from a disease, either quarantine it immediately away from other plants or just throw it to ensure the survival of your container.
If you are planning on placing several plants together in one container, make sure that they work well together. This means, ensure that all the plants have similar requirements for light as well as moisture. If you choose to grow plants that don’t make good neighbors, you can end up with a container full of dying and wilting plants or one plant might outgrow and smoother the other.
As a beginner, you need just the right advice and have the patience to wait for success, it could be for you. Always talk to the experts at your local garden center for information on which plant types to choose for your area.
If your first plant dies or just doesn’t look good, don’t feel bad; pull it out and replace it with something else!
If you have any comments about container gardening or questions you would like to answer, please leave a comment in the box below.
Happy Gardening. Jim