Have you bought any garden books lately?
If you’ve been to the bookstore (I miss Borders, don’t you?) or shopped on Amazon for gardening books, you’ve probably noticed a veritable deluge of new books about container gardening.
I just checked Amazon and quit counting at 59. But there were 90 more pages of listings. Talk about input overload!
Do you already garden in containers?
A lot of folks garden in pots because they don’t have enough room in their yard to grow everything they want to or they don’t have enough sunshine in some parts of the yard.
And some, even though they have plenty of space to garden, still love to have some things growing in containers.
In my current abode, I have all the sunny garden space I need in the yard and never really grew anything in pots except for some geraniums on the front porch and some window-box impatiens along the side of my house.
But several years ago I realized the advantages to growing things in containers. Lots of varieties are actually better adapted for growing in pots.
My wife would be busy cooking some gourmet masterpiece and suddenly realize she needed a few sprigs of fresh thyme. I would have to rush down to the garden because she needed it “right now.” And she couldn’t leave the kitchen for as long as it took to get to the garden.
So I finally got some large containers with most of my herbs growing just a few feet from the kitchen door. That was just a little too easy and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do it sooner.
Now when my wife is cooking up a storm, she can go get the herbs she needs quickly and not mess up the timing of her recipe. And I’m off the hook. Well, that hook anyway.
That’s one of the best reasons in my book to garden in containers—the convenience.
But there are certainly other reasons as well.
So here is my OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tip #14: As you plan your garden, don’t forget about growing some fruit, flowers, and/or vegetables in containers.
Now you’re probably already growing a few things in pots.
But I want you to think about how container gardening can ramp up your overall garden productivity and add to the beauty of your home, yard and garden.
Productivity and Beauty
Gardening in containers gives you an added element of diversity of the varieties you grow and when and where you grow them.
There’s a whole host of plants that are actually bred for growing in pots. Some tomatoes, for example, perform best in pots. There were several books on Amazon just about growing tomatoes in containers.
And there are some miniature, specially grafted, column-type fruit trees for pots. Figs also do well in pots.
And don’t forget, container gardening gives you a great opportunity for creativity in your garden design.
The sky is the limit on how you can add beauty to your landscape and some delicious goodies to your table
There are lots of things to think about when you’re planning your container garden.
Here are my 14 No-nonsense Tips for Successful Container Gardening
- Use a large enough size pot—usually bigger is better. The more soil, the better the water-holding capacity. But remember, some plants will do fine in small pots as long as you have the right soil and give them enough water.
- Use self-watering pots (you can buy them or actually make your own).
- Myth buster! You don’t really need a layer of rocks in the bottom for drainage. Again, the more soil, the more water available to the roots. This one was hard for me to give up.
- And Styrofoam peanuts are an absolute, total no-no in the bottom or mixed in with the potting soil.
- Make sure your potting mix does not get compacted. It needs air so the roots can breathe. Vermiculite and perlite keep things from getting too compacted.
- Don’t use dirt right out of the garden. It will become too compacted.
- A good formula for potting mix: 20 quart bag of organic compost (or the equivalent from your compost pile) and a 20 quart bag of organic planting mix (a good mix will contain perlite and/or vermiculite).
- Compost in the potting mix gives your plants many of the nutrients they need, helps retain water and keeps the soil from compacting.
- Container gardens are easier to tend because you don’t have to stoop over so far. They’re great for someone in a wheelchair or who has trouble bending over so much.
- Smaller containers can be moved inside quickly if there’s an untimely cold snap.
- If you have a short growing season, some plants with a longer date-to-maturity like peppers, artichokes and eggplants are better in containers because you can plant them earlier in the growing season. The container soil will heat up quicker than the soil in your garden beds.
- Make sure your containers have enough water and sunshine.
- Plant a variety of heights and textures in a pot to give make things more visually interesting.
- Containers are great almost anywhere: on patios, decks, front porches, balconies and rooftops (for city dwellers).
Of course, there’s no way to cover everything in this blog post. That’s what books are for (or YouTube videos).
But don’t just buy the first book on container gardening you see. There are lots of good ones, but see what resonates with your gardening style and individual needs.
What’s your favorite thing to grow in containers?
I hope this has been helpful. I’d love to hear about what has worked well for you or lessons you’ve learned. Please share below in the comment section.
And let me know if you have any questions.
Well, that’s it for now.
Here’s to your container tomatoes soaking up all that sunshine and converting it into juicy red (or whatever colors you grow) taste treats.James Organic Gardening 365 Dedicated to helping you get the most out of your garden all year long P. S. For the complete series of OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tips, click here.
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