Welcome to the first post of the What’s in My Garden Blog Series. Last week I talked about what this blog series will be about and what topics I’ll be covering. Today I’ll be talking about tips for container gardening and also why you might consider going this route for all or some of your flowers or vegetables.
In the first spring after purchasing my home, some twenty years ago, I started working in the yard to establish a beautiful garden. For me, it was just another way to Create a Beautiful LifeTM. Over the years, I’ve had select container gardens to accent different areas of my porch, deck and yard. I do still have traditional gardens (and my husband might say I have too many!). But, I use containers for the ability to move them around my yard with ease….provided the pot is not too heavy.
Right now, I have only two different container gardens. I’ve got a number of hosta plants around the yard, but there are two pots that hold a set of ‘undulata albomarginata’ hosta. Then there are two different tomato plants in containers which are first year experiments in vegetable gardening.
Advantages of Container Gardens
- No space constraints: You don’t need a house or a yard to enjoy the benefits of a container garden.
- Easily portable: With planted pots you can easily move your plants indoors or around your yard.
- Easy weed control: My personal fav! With a smaller space, there’s less weeding necessary.
Although I have both plants and vegetables in containers, you’ll find some general tips for starting your own container garden below.
01. Chose container garden location.
Choosing your location first will help determine what plants to consider, based on the natural light or shade that location will get on a daily basis. Don’t worry if you get a plant and put it in full sun but you feel it’s getting too much sun. One of the advantages of container gardening is you can easily move the container to an alternate location.
As my mother-in-law always told me, “if the plant doesn’t do well in one location -put it in another location to see if it’ll thrive”. It’s really sage advice because any plant will grow under the right conditions. Sometimes you just have to play around with the determining the best location for your plant(s).
02. Chose container garden plants.
In my case, the tomato plants chose me. When I purchased two different tomato plants at a fundraiser garage sale back in May I immediately knew I’d be testing them out in a container garden. One was a beefsteak tomato and one was a yellow pear tomato. I’d estimate when I got the plants they were both a foot high. I’ve always had a vegetable garden on my wish list for our outdoor space. So container gardening was perfect for my little experiment of growing my garden foot print.
Don’t worry too much about what plants to choose because most plants that can grow in the ground will also grow in a container (provided the container is the appropriate size for the plant/bush/tree). Our house gets full sun both morning and afternoon. But, not every location is sunny.
Consider some of the following SHADE loving flowers and vegetables:
- Flowering plants: coleus, impatiens, creeping Jenny and fuchsias.
- Vegetables: lettuce, peas, broccoli, cilantro and arugula.
03. Choose your gardening supplies.
Purchase the necessary supplies as determined by the plants you’ve chosen to grow. For example, as a beginner, I didn’t realize how tall our tomato plants would get. As a result, they’ve tipped over a few times. Luckily, they didn’t sustain much damage. But, now I know to buy bigger, heavier pots for tomato plants!
Most plants you buy in the store will come with instructions that give all the information you need to be successful. The key is to make sure your containers are the appropriate size and weight for the plant you plan to grow.
Other supplies you will need (besides the plant and container) include: proper soil, fertilizer, plant cages, watering can and gloves if you don’t wish to work in the dirt with your bare hands.
04. Get planting.
Now you are ready to plant! The first step is to fill the container about half-way full of soil. Next, loosen your plant from its’ container by gently squeezing the sides while holding it slightly inverted. Place the plant in the pot. The goal is to have the plant base sit just 1/4 inch from the top of the container -adjust your soil level as needed.
Once you’re satisfied your plant is where you want it, fill the container to the top with additional soil. Gently press soil in place around the plant; fill with more soil if needed. Water generously.
05. Water your plants.
With container plants, you’ll need to water them more frequently. The best measure is to water them until water comes out the drainage holes. But, only water the soil. Do not water the leaves or flowers.
My plants are in a planter pot that has a watering hole at the bottom. I will water mine (from the top) until I see the water at the bottom and if I’ve over filled, I’ll tip the plant slightly to drain out the excess water. This keeps their roots from getting root rot. The only thing I haven’t done yet is fertilize but my suggestion would be to get a slow-release fertilizer which is somewhat error proof.
06. Wait for the harvest.
This is the hardest part! I can see the fruits of my labor budding but they are all still green tomatoes. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into one of those juicy beefsteak tomatoes! Although based on all the buds I better start planning for a lot of recipes that use tomatoes. The yellow pear plant has at least 4 tomato buds per cluster.
In the last year, I’ve really taken an interest in not only simply living but sustainable living. Getting into vegetable gardening has been on my bucket list for a while now so I am blessed to have been able to start this much-awaited project.
Look at all those beautiful nuggets of mother nature! The other day my husband asked me if I’m singing to my tomato plants. LOL. I have diligently checked on them daily because I want a successful harvest….and some homemade BLTs!!
At last check, the yellow pear tomato (shown below on the left) was now 52″ high and the beefsteak tomato (on the right) was 46″ high and I’ve got numerous tomatoes growing on each plant. So that tells me I’m doing something right. But, I won’t count it as successful vegetable garden until I actually get some edible tomatoes from the plants.
Remember, I planted these already partially grown tomatoes in May. It’s now mid-July and I don’t expect the tomatoes to ripen until August. So, if you are planting a vegetable container garden, patience is the key. The process for planting flowering plants in container gardens is the same as it is for vegetables.
Want to see what I made from my harvest? Check out my Homemade Yellow Pear Tomato Salsa Recipe.
If you are planting flowering plants, in my opinion, the best plants for container gardening are annuals because these won’t come back. Next season it’s easier to clean out your containers of old plants/roots than figure out where in your ground garden you put them.
When you use annuals for container gardens you want to get a variety of plants and containers in various heights. That way, you can create the illusion of a full garden area right on your deck, porch, driveway, pathway or anywhere you want to add some botanical interest.
“Ever get confused by “annuals” and “perennials”? Annuals are plants that do not come back. Perennials will bloom each year.”Behind the Designs
Whether you are a beginner gardener or just want to test out a few plants, container gardening is the perfect solution. It’s also a great idea if you don’t want to commit to putting plants into the ground. Simply plant in your containers and if at the end of the season you feel you don’t want to have the task of managing a garden, getting rid of container gardens is much easier than disassembling your whole yard or garden area.
My suggestion is if you don’t wish to keep your container gardens simply put them at the end of your driveway with a “free” sign on them and they will go real fast. It’s always better to recycle, anything, when possible.
Now that we finished talking about vegetable container gardening tips for beginners come back next week when I’ll share with you the benefits of planting fruit bearing trees.
If you are inspired to create your own container garden don’t forget to share by tagging me on Instagram and using #btdinspired, I’d love to see your work (and I just might repost your photo)!
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