Hello Gardeners, I am finally going to do a blog on container gardening before the growing season is over.
What are Container Gardens? Anything growing in a pot, tub or vessel that can hold dirt and still provide drainage is qualified to be part of a container garden. Personally, I consider raised bed gardens to be really big containers, thus qualifying in this catagory.
Why Container Garden?
From a practical stand point if you live in an apartment and only have a balcony, containers are your best gardening option. If you live where the soil is poor, containers are a great work around solution. My soil is clay. On my ground gardens where I added amendments to the soil and some nice tight edging to keep bermuda grass out, when it rains very hard the clay saturates and will no longer soak up water. The amended soil becomes a soup bowl for days.
For people with disabilities, Container Gardening can bring the joy of growing things back within your reach.
If you can afford fancy pots or have access to things that would make neat planters, Container Garden groupings are a really neat idea to tie in with your landscaping plans.
What can I grow in a container?
Just about anything your heart desires if the container is big enough and gets the right amount of sunlight. I've grown herb gardens, tomatoes, roses, giant sunflowers, shrubs and even gourds up a trellis in containers.
How to do it.
First choose your containers. Get the largest containers you can. Smaller pots and window boxes dry out very quickly. Anywhere the temp is over 78f on a daily basis and has low humidity, small (less than 1 gallon) containers will require daily to three times daily watering.
One warning here; If you have a balcony think about weight. Several 15 gallon containers with water (around 120lbs a piece) and a couple people on your balcony could be too much weight.
A container/planter can be anything you can put drainage holes in and will hold dirt. Fancy pots from the garden center or large plastic storage containers with holes drilled in the bottom.
How to fill them.
Of course you fill them with dirt but theres a trick to it.
Most schools of thought say put something like an inch of small rocks/course gravel at the bottom of the pot for drainage. If you have some it's a good idea. If you don't want to buy extra rocks for drainage you can probably get away with not doing it. However, for pots that go on balconys it's a good idea just so all your dirt doesn't run out the bottom to the neighbors balcony. BUT, before you add rocks, gravel etc., put a piece of screen at the bottom of your planter. This holds everything in. You can buy a role of window screen cheap at any hardware store or Walmart. Cut it with a scissors to fit bottom of pot, add your one inch of rocks (two inches if really deep pot), now you are ready for dirt.
Planters less than a foot deep are best filled with that high dollar fancy potting soil. Miracle Grow is a name that comes to mind, but any potting soil of similar look and feel is just fine.
For large planters, anything over 16 inches tall by 16 inches wide, you can fill the whole thing with high dollar potting soil if you like. For my large containers, which happen to be 20 gallon plastic storage tubs, I mix a bag of the cheapest top soil, not mulch, get actual soil to mix with the high dollar potting soil. The bottom half of the container is filled with the cheap bag of top soil. The upper half gets the fancy stuff.
Two reasons for this. One, the top soil is much heavier than potting soil and helps weigh the container down so if my large shrub or tomatoe plants catch a stiff wind it doesn't blow over easily. Second, it's cheaper. Also you can take out the potting soil from the top half of the pot and add fresh every year if you are inclined to do so. Once again some folks will say replace everything, scrub the container etc. Do what works best for you.
Now that you have your planters full of dirt, get out there and grow something!
For people with disabilities.
You can still garden, but you might have to have someone help with the initial set-up. If bending, walking, mobility is a problem, containers can be placed on sturdy blocks to a height you can work with.
If making platform for containers, use materials that won't rot. (Cinder blocks are good if braced right) Make sure container/platform will not fall over if pushed or pulled with the weight of an adult.
For wheelchairs and walkers have an area of three feet of smooth solid ground between containers or barriers for person in chair or walker to get through. Person should be able to reach all parts of container without leaning/reaching to point of instability.
If garden tools are needed, tying a string to them will help with retrieval if tool is dropped.
If you haven't been to other blogs that talk about gardening and are interested, check out Skyeponys blog. She puts some really good tips in there sometimes along with all the weather info. Dragonfly15 also is a good plant blog. If you know of any other good plant blogs let me know. Happy Gardening from Gardengrrl.
Updated: 9:34 AM GMT on April 15, 2008
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