Container Gardens-No Space? No Problem

People without a large yard (or any yard) may not garden because they feel that they haven’t enough space. They may be overlooking the possibility of gardening in containers. A container garden can be as simple as a hanging basket or as elaborate as an entire vegetable garden grown in half barrels. It is even possible to indulge in water gardening in some of the larger barrels.

THE CONTAINER

Almost anything that can hold soil can be used for container gardening. The only requirement is that it have holes in the bottom to allow water to drain. Plants need to have their roots exposed to air in the soil to survive and thrive. If the container has no holes for drainage, it will fill with water and drown the plants very quickly. It is better to keep your plants on the drier side than to keep them constantly moist or wet.

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THE SOIL

One of the advantages of container gardening is that you have total over the composition of the soil. For general flower and vegetable planters I like to use 1/3 sandy soil, 1/3 humus, and 1/3 peat moss. This mix will hold moisture, but not to excess. The sandy topsoil allows the soil to drain well preventing drowning. If the topsoil you choose isn’t sandy, you can mix in some coarse sand to improve drainage.

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FEEDING

Soils used in containers won’t provide enough nutrients for good plant growth and flowering. You must add the nutrients regularly to allow your plants to thrive and provide the best show or crop that they can. An easy way to add these nutrients is in the form of soluble plant food, such as Miracle Gro or Peter’s. This should be applied about every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks. There are also slow release foods that you can add to the soil that will release their nutrients gradually over the entire growing season (such as Osmocote or Mag-Amp). Remember, you don’t need much space to be a gardener and some of the most interesting gardens are container gardens. It’s also a great way to involve handicapped or elderly people in gardening without the need for a garden plot that may not exist or be accessible to them.

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