One of the easiest ways to start gardening or to enhance a space is through container gardening. There are a few simple steps to making a beautiful, easy to maintain container garden. Many different container materials are on the market that allows you to bring your own personal style into your container garden. If you love bright colors, check out some of the new plastic containers. If you enjoy more of a rustic feel look at terra cotta or clay planters. Those that live on balconies want to invest in Styrofoam planters as they are lighter and easier to move around. So many choices when it comes to choosing the container!
After you have the perfect pot, think about what kind of plants you want to grow. Do your eyes light up when you pass beautiful flowers like pansies and poppies or does your stomach yearn for an Heirloom tomato plant that you can eat from throughout the year? No matter what you want to grow, you want to start out with a good potting soil that will give nutrients to the growing roots and plants as they bloom out and fruit.
Having 3-4 drainage holes at the bottom of the container are key so that the plant don’t become waterlogged. Layer an inch of rocks on the bottom of the container and then fill it ¾ full with good potting soil. I prefer to make my own organic potting soil as I can be assured that my plants will have everything that they need. Organic fertilizers include bone meal which helps with root development and blood meal gives the leaves, fruit, and flowers their nutrients. One of the greatest benefits of using organic fertilizers is that the plant only uptakes the nutrients it needs at that moment whereas if you put on too much synthetic fertilizer it can burn the plant and can hinder growth or fruit production.
Organic Potting Soil
1/3 Potting Soil
1/3 Compost or Earthworm Castings or Bat Guano
1 cup Bone Meal
1 cup Blood Meal
If you decide to try your hand at tomatoes, peppers, or anything in the squash family, you will plant one plant for 12”of space. Typically, this will be just one plant per container. If you prefer to plant flowers, you can get away with 4-8 in a 12” saucer pot with the tallest plant in the center and those that trail, planted on the edge. Fill in the rest of the space with smaller plants, even herbs like thyme or oregano. I recommend started with a larger container over a smaller one so they have plenty of room to grow.
Once your plants are in their new homes, water the container until you can see water coming out the bottom. Keep watering. Often times the plants we bring home from the nursery have salt deposits on the roots so you will want to water deeply the first week to flush these crystals away from the roots. If the temperature in your area is above 90 degrees, water the container twice a day. Most plants prefer to be slightly wet than completely dried out.
Enjoy your new container garden and remember it is perfectly normal to always be on the hunt for the next fabulous container and thinking of what you want to plant in it!