Starting a Container Garden
Container gardens are the ideal solution for people who enjoy gardening but simply have little to no space. With this type of garden, you have the opportunity to plant a wonderful selection of vegetables and flowers, but instead of using land outside, you use small containers. Obviously, for individuals living in apartments, city dwellers, or homes without outside yard space where only a small balcony or patio is available, a container garden makes perfect sense. Regardless of the size your space is, your garden can be designed with wonderful variation for color and fragrance.
The first thing is choosing the containers for your garden. Interestingly, with a container garden, you can use literally anything. For instance, some great choices include things such as old bathtubs, washtubs, whiskey barrels, glass jars, kitchen bowls, ceramic pots, watering cans, you name it, and you could probably start a container garden in it. As long as the container will hold soil, plants, and water, you are set to go.
With a container garden, the type of container you choose will need to have a good drain hole in the bottom. If not, you can put two pieces of masking or duct tape in a crisscross pattern on the bottom and then with a small drill, begin to drill through the center, slowly working your way outward until the size is approximately one-inch in diameter. Then, prior to placing soil in the container, we suggest you place broken potshards or gravel in the bottom to help keep the soil inside the pot, especially when watering.
Popular choices for container gardens are wooden containers. In this case, just make sure the container is quality wood or you might be dealing with a bad case of wood rot. In addition to this, never use pretreated wood. With this, the wood has been treated with preservatives that can leak down into the soil, causing damage to the plants. Therefore, if you have your heart set on wood, simply choose something such as redwood or cedar, both excellent options.
You also want to make sure you have fun creating your container garden. Many times, you can find colorful trinkets or figurines already around the house or garage that would be perfect to enhance the look of your garden. If not, rather than spend a lot of money, you could check out local thrift stores, shopping for containers and knickknacks. With a container garden, you can create a sophisticated look, something Victorian, perhaps a rustic country look, or a garden that is colorful and whimsical.
Another important aspect of the container garden is the soil. Since you are planting in a confined space, soil from your yard is generally fine but you might consider buying a bag of good soil, which typically costs less than $5. The reason is that bought soil provides you with a cleaner mix, which is both disease and weed free. An important tip to remember when and if you ever report any of the plants – never reuse soil form the containers.
The growing mixture you use with container gardening is also designed so water will drain off quickly. The importance of this is to allow enough moisture to keep roots moist without the plants sitting in soaking wet soil, which can lead to root rot and other diseases. You also want to consider the plants that you grow since some may require different balances of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Just be sure you leave two inches from the top of the container between the top of the soil.
Because the soil for your container garden is formulated to drain quickly, fertilizer is important. A good rule of thumb is that the lighter the soil the more frequent you will need to fertilize. We suggest you go with a diluted type of liquid fertilizer. Two of the best options for healthy fruits and vegetables, as well as vibrant flowers are liquid seaweed or fish emulsion. However, remember that again, different plants have different nutritional needs to try to purchase those with the same requirements.
Typically, container gardens need about five to six hours of direct sunlight daily. Now, if you plan to grow vegetables such as carrots or beets, they would need more with fruits like tomatoes and cucumbers needing even more. For flowers, this would depend on the type of flowers being grown. In this case, your best option is to read the sunlight recommendations for plants when buying and purchase flowers with like requirements.
If you plan to grow flowers in your container garden, now the fun part starts with choosing what you will grow. Although you have literally hundreds and hundreds of possibilities, the following are some of our recommendations:
Browallia – Upward facing chalices that are simply beautiful. These desert bluebells can handle all types of conditions. Additionally, these flowers are beautiful as the main attraction or filler plants.
Coleus – This type of houseplant produces magnificent leaves of bronze, white copper, gold, yellow, red, pink, and purple. Hardy and strong, Coleus are a perfect addition to any container garden.
Impatiens – The flowers of Impatiens are dainty yet prolific. The petals shimmer with a magnificent coral, peach, and pink color with a darker petal margin that makes each bloom distinct.
Periwinkle – This type of flower is virtually disease and pest free. Best of all, it readily reseeds itself. The flowers are a beautiful white and pink color, adding gentle color to your garden.
Snapdragons – Everyone loves Snapdragons. If you have a container garden that can accommodate some height, these flowers provide a magical carpet of color with vibrant yellow, orange, pink, and red.
Black-Eyed Susan – Perfect for container gardens, these flowers are actually fast-growing vines that produce incredible yellow, orange, and white flowers with solid eyes, thus the name.
Keep in mind that these flower recommendations are just a few that you might consider. The best thing with any container garden is to do what you like. Once you have decided on a container and soil, choose flowers, plants, vegetables, herbs, or fruits that you enjoy. You will be amazed at just how rewarding a container garden can be.
WNY Alive © 2005
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