Container gardening can be a rewarding and fun process, though it’s important to consider a few things before you get started on it. Most plants can be grown in containers without a problem, and a small space can be jazzed up by starting a container garden.
A container garden is adorable, and gives you enough herbs or veggies to enjoy at home. You can have it in an apartment or a house, as long as you have the sunlight.
Container Gardening: What to Look Out For
When you want to get started on your container garden, the first step is to consider where you will have it. It’s important that the plants get the right amount of sun to ensure they grow properly, and they need plenty of space to grow in.
A small section of a patio or balcony can work well in apartments, while the yard is more than fine for those who live in houses. Once you have the area, you can get started choosing your containers.
When you start looking for containers, be sure to look for drainage holes on the bottom. Many decorative ones won’t have holes, though the ceramic and cement containers should. The plants need to be able to drain properly to ensure that the roots won’t rot.
If you find a plastic one you really want, just drill some holes in the bottom of it. Make sure you have enough containers for every plant. For some variety, choose containers that vary in size, height and width.
A good book for novice container gardeners is: The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers. See what this person had to say after reading it:
I have been gardening seriously for the past couple of years and really got interested in containers last year. I have been asking myself a lot of questions about container gardening, mainly about the nature of the soil to use for pots and I have always wondered if I could reuse potting soil. I have made my share of mistakes (buying lousy potting soil, for one, or not fertilizing enough) but I have really been craving a seasoned gardener’s advice. I already owned the The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible (10th Anniversary Edition) from the same author and McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers. Both were great but the former was really focused on raised beds (which is fine) and the latter lacked pictures and specific guidance. I appreciated that the authors of the Bountiful Container leave it to me to decide whether I want to grow organic or not but sometimes you just need somebody to tell you what works!
I liked the Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible the moment I put my hands on the book. It is abundantly illustrated (a huge help for a novice gardener like me!!), from pictures of containers with mature plants, to pictures of good quality soil (so you know what to look for) and how to make your own potting mix (loved the advice to mix it all in a rain barrow!). The author encourages you to add a slow-acting fertilizer to the potting mix so you do not have to fertilize too much, if at all, during the growing season (I used Dr Earth fertilizer if you are interested in organic gardening without bone meal, by the way). There are also instructions to make self-watering containers and advice on which veggies like them best. That is the first part of the book.
The second part of the book focuses on the various varieties of vegetables that you can grow in containers and the varieties that the author thinks grow better in containers are marked “Ed’s Picks.” Those include lettuces, various greens, or eggplants (especially if you live in the Northern states). The book has beautiful photos of every herb and vegetable with the minimum information you need to grow them successfully. A few varieties of each veggie are recommended. I find that McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers provided more in-depth information on each edible and I liked that the book covered fruit trees ans flowers while Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible focused (obviously) on veggies. The Bountiful Container also was more “poetic” in its descriptions and gave more advice specific to each edible variety, in my opinion. At the end, I would recommend both books. Use the Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible to get started and see pictures, then refer to McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers for more in-depth information on each variety.
The main reason for container garden failure is, simply, water. Sometimes it’s too much water. This can be a result of poor drainage, hence the importance of a container with drainage holes. Too much water causes the roots to rot, and kills the plant. If there’s too little water, the roots dry out and the plant dies.
It’s particularly easy to underwater plants in containers. Soil in containers don’t have the same retention as outdoor soil. If required, you can also use organic potting soil.