Monday, May 26, 2014

Container Gardening - a few why's and what's

For me, Memorial Day is the official first day of summer although the summer solstice is still weeks away. It is the weekend I pull out my planters and fill them with annuals.  It’s the time I add color and vibrancy to my deck and patio after a long dreary winter.
Seeing as this is Memorial Day Monday, I thought I’d pass on a few pointers on gardening in containers.

Why is there such a fascination with container gardening?
Why not?  Besides being a beautiful addition to your home or balcony, they are portable, easy to care for, can be used to grow flowers, vegetables, and herbs, and there is very little weeding.  Containers can be found in apartments or placed on balconies. You can hang them from the rafters, put them on the ground, or anyplace in between (like a on a pedestal as shown here with my adorable dog Hobbes). They are easy to water and require little ongoing care.  Basically, you put plants in them and let them grow.

What kind of pots should I use?
The list is e-n-d-l-e-s-s, but remember a large container contains more soil, which keeps the roots moist for a longer period of time.  The smaller containers are affected by swings in temperatures easier than larger ones, which isn’t good for the plants. Large containers provide roots with lots of space to grow. You might want to select light colored pots, especially if you live in a very sunny location as the darker the container, the more the dirt inside heats up. You can have containers made of terra-cotta, concrete, plastic, foam, wood, or metal. Let your imagination grow here—just make sure there are holes for drainage.

What do I do to prepare the containers?
It’s easy.  For pots that have drainage holes, try a trick I recently learned on Facebook.  Place a coffee filter on the bottom.  This will let the excess water drain and you won’t lose precious soil.  Then, depending on the size of your container, you might want to put a layer of gravel or shipping peanuts on the bottom.  This reduces the amount of potting soil you’ll need—especially if you have one of those mega containers.

Then just add soil!  Make sure it is soil meant for container gardens—it’s lighter and better suited for that purpose than dirt from your back yard. Don’t overfill as you want to leave space for watering. The only other thing I add is a time released fertilizer that releases nutrients over the course of the summer.  That way I don’t have to worry if I’ve fertilized my pots too much or too little. I just mix it in with the soil, and my plants love it!

On Thursday, I’ll be talking about selecting plants for your pots. Stay tuned!

Your turn:  What do you like best about container gardening?

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