Where to start, what to grow, how to grow it and more Ideas and tips for Container gardening in small spaces, on patios, and Windowsills for beginners.
Container gardening seems to look as if it is challenging,but in reality it is not that different from growing plants in the Yard, as long as you remember a few basics when it comes to Light/Shade, Containers and what type of soil to plant in .
Generally I come to find out that you can grow pretty much anything in a Container and I want to share some of my Experiences with you.
After moving from a house to an Apartment I missed my vegetable and Herb Garden the most. So I started to experiment with different Veggies and Herbs in Containers. I am very environmentally cautious and recycle / re purpose anything I can. Below are some of what I have found out.
Gardening Container Ideas- Container Gardening Pots
I understand they are light and easy to get but first off their lifespan is about 2 Seasons before you will have to replace them due to calcium and mold build up what is not favorable for your plants. Plastic also doesn’t let as much moisture or oxygen in or out, then Clay planters, as a result plastic planters retain moisture what can cause your plant to “drown” and suffocate due to moss building up on the top of the Soil. On top of that, plastic containers will heat up faster which will result in premature wilting and not to forget the health concerns when it comes to growing Vegetable or herb plants in plastic. Plastic Containers contain #3PVC, #6Polycarbonate and #6PS which are all toxic
Ceramic Containers vs. Clay Pots
Ceramic pots are a great choice and you will have a ton of choices with Color, patterns and style to fit your designs. Even though glazed Ceramic will be a bit heavier to cary ( but it’s not as if you will move them around everyday) these containers will come with or without a drainage hole which you will have to keep in mind when it comes to planting but it also will give you a wider variety of how and what to plant in them.
Plants in Ceramic Containers require you to water them frequently even though when using glazed pots the Soil will not drain out as fast as Clay or Terra Cotta you want to keep an eye on your precious greens.
I usually start of with a layer of peoples or small stones to create some sort of drainage area when using a Container that has no drainage holes or, I place a terracotta pot into the larger sized Container.
Then their are the Containers you can re purpose. I am using anything from Glass Jars, to old Tin bathing buckets, Pots and what ever I think looks cool or vintage. When using any of those containers remember to start with a drainage Layer so assure your plant roots get the right air supply. If you have a medal pot that is rusted on the side that is great because you can be assured the water will escape thru it and you do not have to worry about over watering.
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Container Gardening Soil Mix- keep it simple
As beginners I suggest you don’t over think the Soil but go by 2 major factor:
Potting soil needs to provide the roots with access to air and let water drain away from them . In a container the water tends to settle in the bottom,so be careful when watering. The soil also needs to retain moisture for a successful growth and this is where you can get creative. The best would be organic materials like peat moss or Sand but be careful you need to keep the nutritional needs of your plants in mind.
To keep it simple I suggest the premixed Commercial mixes that will have a balanced blend of Fertilizer, moisture holding additives and provide air supply. Most Garden Centers will have a variety and you should have no problem of finding the right mix for your needs. Stay with the organic one’s if possible
Herb Container gardening Ideas
Before you run out and get all those Herbs you want to plant take a step back and think!
Even though Herbs are a great start to get used to Container gardening, they have different needs. Consider what Herbs need a more shady area which one’s like the full Sun for example. Companion gardening also applies to Herbs. As some will thrive together because they are keeping Invaders away and have the same needs the same applies to the opposite.
Look at the little plant tags that will come with your Herbs and put together the one’s with the same needs : for example
- Basil Great with parsley, rosemary and oregano,
- Cilantro goes well with mint, basil, lavender, and dill.
- Sage likes to be with rosemary
- Chives goes well with Mint and Rosemary( but keep in Mind that Chives will expand rapidly ( I keep it in one pot alone)
- Dill like the company of Cilantro and Basil
- Mint is good with dill Basil and Cilantro
- Coriander likes Company with dill or parsley
Vegetable Container gardening Ideas
The same as Herbs applies to plant the right Vegetable in the right Environment. ( full sun, Shade, lot of water not so much water ) They also like Companions and below I have put together a few that I am growing very successfully .
Tomatoes: they are happy in a large deep Container. Full Sun is required and a Stake or tomato cage to keep the heavy fruits from breaking the branches. Basil is the perfect companion for them .
Beans : here you will need a tier to help the vines find something to “hold onto” or you can grow them in hanging baskets and let the vines hang over the rim. Rosemary and Sage are good friends for Beans.
Peas: one of the early birds of vegetables, they will grow fast and are done in mid summer so you can plant something else in their spot like lettuce or spinach.
Cabbage: this lovely veggie like the company of mint In a large shallow container these two make a great couple.
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