Container Gardening

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Many people, including gardeners, believe that container gardening with planters and hanging baskets is only for flowers and other decorative plants. This is, however, not so.

Container gardening can equally be employed for growing vegetables and fruit and is especially suited for those with little or no yard space for such endeavors.

Colorful, low maintenance, and a quick gardening fix, that is container gardening, but also a great deal more. It is a great way of making use of all available space to grow the things that you want to grow.

The definition of container gardening is practically limitless and anyone from kids to the elderly to apartment and condominium dwellers and people with a limited amount of time can garden using containers.

From a simple pot of marigolds placed next to the front door to a balcony overflowing with a container garden masterpiece flowering vines, yellow, red, and green vegetables, and fruit trees, the only real constraint is your imagination.

Just about any container can be used as long as there are holes for drainage, and practically anything can be grown including annuals, perennials, herbs and vegetables. It is also possible to grow shrubs such as low bush blueberries and fruit trees as long as the container is large enough. In fact many plant- and seed breeders now produce plants and seeds designed especially for containers.

There are a couple of rules to successful container gardening however. It’s important to choose the right container for the job. It should be the right size, shape, and proportion for the plant that will be growing in it.

Use potting soil such as from your own compost, nice and crumbly, ideally, or, if you have to buy it in, instead for soil dug from the garden. Though I have done the latter and that has worked also, especially with trees and shrubs.

Plants should be grouped according to their growing conditions, therefore don’t mix shade and sun loving plants together or plants that prefer drier soil with those that thrive with more soil moisture.

Finally, plants growing in containers tend to need frequent watering and containers in full sun may require watering once or even twice a day so keep an eye on the moisture levels of the soil.

In addition use mulch. Well, use mulch anyway. It reduced the evaporation rate and the breaking down of the material creates a great soil below.

Almost anything can be grown in containers, as long as they are large enough and a container, as said, can be almost anything also. I have used everything up to and including old bathtubs and also woven polypropylene builder's bags, known, I believe, as tonne bags in the USA.

Beware with trees in containers, and I speak here from experience. If placed on bare ground their roots can and will break through the confines of the tub and will get into the ground and anchor themselves there.

While they tend to look good do not use terracotta planters. They will often not withstand cold winters and fall apart, as has happened with my strawberry planter and my herb planter, as well as other larger and smaller ones. Terracotta and other “stone” materials are also heavy as planters, especially when it comes to large ones and even more so once they have soil in them.

Always move your container to the site and then fill with soil, not the other way round. Saves your back for sure, unless you happen to have a sack-barrow you can use to shift it with.

© 2013