Container Gardening Tips and Ideas
As the weather warms up it is tempting to plant gardens early, but the ground may still be a bit cold. This causes early planted vegetables and herbs to just sit, not growing much until the ground warms. Containers warm more quickly because of the sun shining on the pot, so we can start gardening sooner with faster results.
Try planting popular herbs in containers for an assortment of fresh garnishes and flavours. You can pick fresh from your back patio while cooking a favourite recipe.
In the spring try planting assorted lettuces in a large container. This will provide an excellent supply for fresh sandwiches or salads. Tomatoes are a perfect choice for container gardens.
Consider how much sun your container will get and then choose your plants according to the recommended sun or shade requirements.
Select a container with drainage holes in the bottom. Remember smaller containers will dry out faster so you may need to water more often. Containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes; round, square, hexagonal, and rectangular. They are made of weather resistant wood, such as cypress, redwood, or cedar, or made of plastic, clay, concrete or ceramic. Be creative when selecting a container.
Good soil is the foundation to creating healthy container gardens. 'Soiless media' is a great choice for your container. It will contain peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. The key to a good media is that it provides proper drainage but also has water holding capacity. Fill to 2" from the top. Also consider using a compost-based potting soil with peat, bark, sand, and perlite for aeration. Buy premium mixes that list similar ingredients; bark may be listed as "forest products".
You can choose either a slow-release type or a water-soluble one. Slow-release fertilizer is incorporated into the soil prior to planting and lasts 3 to 4 months. Osmocote 14-14-14 is an example. Water-soluble fertilizer, such as Miracle Gro 20-20-20, is added on a weekly or bi-weekly basis according the manufacturer's instructions.
Plan out where your plants will be situated if creating a mixed herb container garden. Start with the center and work out from there. Dig a hole a bit larger than the container that the original plant came in. Carefully remove the plant from the pot by tipping it upside down. If the plant is very dry, you can moisten it first. Loosen the roots gently to encourage growth in the new container. Place in the hole, fill with soil and gently press down. When the plants are where you want them, you may want to add a bit more soil.
Give your container garden a good soaking after planting. If growing sun loving plants in pots you'll need to water every day or two. Never let the container become totally dry.
Crunched up aluminum soda cans will create light bulk in large pots and containers. Less soil to fill, lighter pot to lift!
Container gardens should be kept out of direct and hot midday sun and drying winds, if possible. Because they are exposed on all sides, they will show some effects of harsh elements more quickly. Uneven sun exposure might cause your plants to lean one way in search of more sun. To correct for this, rotate the planters every couple of days so the plant will grow straight. Stakes will also help your plants grow straight.
One advantage to container gardening is the ability to move pots around to find the best growing conditions. If you find your planter isn't doing well try moving it to a sunnier or shadier spot. Or if the plant looks like it's leaves are browning, move it out of direct sun. Since your planter is portable you can experiment quite easily until you find the best place with just the right amount of sun.