Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gardening in Containers

During April we'll be reposting some of our gardening series to help get you ready for gardening season. Please feel free to leave helpful tips about starting and maintaining a garden!

Many people just do not have the time or resources to plant a traditional garden. Take me, for example. I'd love to have a garden like Abbie's, but my husband and I have literally not had one free day this spring to dig up and prepare our soil (that's what happens with a third year medical student for a husband... he's never home, but when he IS, it always seems to be raining!). Anyway, I would normally just do it myself like I did last year, but this time I'm way to pregnant to even think about working that hard.

That's where gardening in containers comes in. It's exactly what it sounds like - planting your things in containers right on your porch! I did some of this last year and plan on doing it again because it's so easy. It's ideal for people who don't have much of a yard, or just don't have good soil. That's another reason I don't like to plant in our ground. Our soil is made up mostly of sand, and I just don't have the patience or know-how to fix it right now.

Anyway. I was going to have my container garden all finished for this post, with pictures and everything, but with vacation last week and the rain we've been getting, I just haven't had the chance yet. I hope to get it all done this weekend. But it's really easy, I promise!

According to About.com, there are many different types of vegetables that are suitable for container gardening: cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, green onions, leaf lettuce, peppers, radishes, squash, and tomatoes. Just be on the lookout for key words like "bush", "compact", or "space saver". Any seeds with these words should be suitable for containers.

You can use pretty much anything for your containers. I used large plastic round bins, but you could also use flower pots, wire baskets, window planters, etc. Whatever you decide to use, though, just make sure there is a hole (or several) at the bottom for water drainage. Size of the container is also important. Obviously, larger plants need larger containers.

Now for your soil. Of course, you can use your own soil from your yard, but the best choice is to buy a synthetic mix, which has all the components for growing great plants. These can be found at WalMart - just look for bags that say they are for potting plants, and usually they will list "vegetables" too.

Be sure to water your container vegetables frequently. They don't have the luxury of drawing water out from the ground like traditional garden vegetables do.

Good luck with your container gardens! I'll be sure to post some pictures next week when I get mine planted. I'm hoping to do some tomatoes and green onions, at least. Hopefully some leaf lettuce, too. I'll let you know!

Much of this information is from About.com
Image from an article at Howstuffworks.com

Originally posted April 16, 2009


Samantha R said...

We have done container gardens for 5 years. This year we have a house with almost a half acre, so we are going to do a "traditional" garden for the first time :) Anyways, we have had really good luck doing bell peppers, tomatoes, peas, herbs, lettuce, and green onions in containers. We tried squash and cucumbers but they died. Last year we tried carrots and onions and got some tiny ones, but didn't have the greatest luck.

Anonymous said...

I always add a 1-2" layer of mulch (usually shredded cedar bark) on top of the soil in the planter - after the plants are up if growing from seed, or immediately after transplanting if using already started plants. It helps reduce the watering requirement a bit. For herbs like rosemary and thyme, I put a layer of stones about 1" in diameter covering all of the soil in the pot - they seem to like it!.

Devon said...

We use milk jugs. I know a lot of people are worried about BPA in them, but it has worked well for us and we are doing so again this year!