Whether you are short on space, new to the world of gardening, or limited on time, cultivating a container garden is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to satisfy your green thumb. With a little planning and consideration this type of green patch can not only be useful but also very attractive. Here at Workman’s Friend some of us are active container gardeners. Others simply enjoy reaping the fruits, herbs and vegetables these gardens produce. But we’ve learned that if you have a love of planting, developing a container garden requires that you follow certain steps.
What can you grow?
Do you know which vegetables and herbs grow best in pots? The answer is fairly straight forward. All herbs can be grown in pots. In fact they do best in containers. Lettuce, Swiss chard and Collards are the leafy vegetables that do well in pots. Others including zucchini, cucumbers and of course tomatoes thrive when planted in vessels. Many of these fruits and vegetables can also be planted with ornamental flowers to make the containers even more colorful.
What size of container?
Deciding what size of container you need for your plants will ensure that they thrive and produce tasty results. A pot that is too small will prevent your garden from growing and it will mean you’ll have to work harder to keep it alive. One that is too large means you’ll have to spend more money on soil than is necessary. In general a 24-inch diameter pot can hold squash, cucumber, artichokes and tomatoes. An 18-inch pot will hold cabbage, eggplant, cauliflower and smaller peppers. A 14-inch vessel can hold any herbs, 3-4 lettuce heads and cabbage.
Remember that not all pots are round and tall. For example, lettuce which is a shallow-rooted plant enjoys a wider rather than taller container. In general most vegetables need deeper pots than other plants. No matter what sized pot you use, make sure to fill it with quality potting soil and water it regularly.
How do you take care of your plant?
Once you’ve got the type of plant and size of pot chosen, it’s time to get gardening. Before you fill your container make sure to cover the drainage hole with either wire mesh or a coffee filter. This will prevent the soil from seeping through that opening while still allowing the water to drain through. Plant your plants and fill around them with more potting soil making sure that the roots are properly covered. Don’t press down on the potting mix making it compact. You want it a bit loose. Water your new addition just until you see it flowing out of the drainage hole. Make sure to add a layer of mulch to the top of the pot. This will help lock-in the water during the warm summer months. As the growing season begins your vegetables will need plenty of water. You will know they’re thirsty when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.
How many should I plant?
That question can only be answered by you-the gardener. It’s always a great idea to start small maybe with one container. If you find that you can handle more pots, feel free to add more. The beauty about container gardening is that it can be done both inside and out. So when the weather becomes a little colder you will need to move your pots inside and place them near a window so they get enough sunlight to grow.
Remember, container gardening is perfect for those who have limited green space, are new to the hobby or who are short on time. If you find that you enjoy cultivating your green thumb or want to spend more time watching your garden grow, then a little planning is all it will take to make this a reality. Now get planting!
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