by Jennifer Poindexter
Do you have a favorite gardening method? Mine is container gardening. I love the simplicity of it, but I also love how it can work for virtually anyone. Whether you have a large area to grow things, or even if you don’t, container gardening can possibly work for you.
If you’re interested in learning a few secrets to help you container garden successfully, you’re in the right place. I’m going to share a few of the tips I follow when growing my own container garden:
1. Pick the Right Plants
When growing plants in a container garden, you must consider which plants will work best. Not everything grows well in this set-up.
For instance, tomatoes, peppers, peas, lettuce, spinach, and a variety of other plants grow well in a container garden. However, you should avoid growing larger crops such as pumpkins, watermelon, or full-grown fruit trees using this method.
You should also consider if your container garden will be indoors or outdoors. This will change what you can grow as well.
2. Use the Right Soil
I love container gardening because you can control most of the elements your plants grow in. You control the growing container, the amount of sunlight, where the plants grow, and the soil.
When in control of so many things, be sure you get them right. Therefore, ensure you plant your crops in soil that’s high in nutrients, well-draining, and fluffy. This is a vital part of setting your plants up for success.
3. Water Properly
There are many ways and times to water your plants. In my experience, it’s best to water your plants deeply and earlier in the day.
This avoids the plants becoming overwatered and also gives the foliage time to dry before the cool night air sets in.
However, when container gardening, your plants don’t have as much soil to work with. Therefore, you may need to water them more frequently. It’s also wise to mulch around your plants to help the soil retain moisture.
Before applying any water to your crops, use the finger test. Insert your finger into the soil of the container. If it’s dry to your first knuckle, add more water. If not, hold off on applying water until more is absorbed.
4. Pick the Right Size
We’ve already discussed you picking the right sized plant for your container garden. Now, it’s time to discuss picking the right size containers.
Look at your plants and consider how large they’ll become in their mature state. The container should be able to accommodate the plant when it’s full-grown.
If it can’t, the plant will become root bound. This could mean that you’ll need to transplant more frequently, or it could cause your container garden to fail.
5. Stake Your Plants
There are many plants that grow in a container garden that should be staked. I’m currently raising English peas, tomatoes, and peppers in my container garden.
All these crops will require staking as they grow. If not, the peas will run all over the floor of my grow space.
Staking is for more than aesthetics. It’s also vital to ensure your plants don’t break and that proper airflow is maintained around them.
6. Don’t Skip the Drainage
We’ve discussed many of the things you should do. Part of having a successful container garden is also learning what you shouldn’t do.
One of the main things you shouldn’t do is grow your plants in containers that don’t drain well. If water cannot drain away from the plants quickly, you’re setting them up for fungal disease.
Avoid disease, and suffocating your plants, by ensuring the planters you use have large enough drainage holes to pull water away from the plants quickly.
7. Don’t Ignore Pests and Diseases
Most plants have pests and diseases the gardener must stay alert to. If left unchecked, these things can ravage your garden space.
Be aware of what might threaten each of your plants, prior to planting them. Ensure you check your plants daily for any signs of pests or diseases.
Finally, treat the pests and diseases swiftly to stop the issue before it grows out of hand. By staying alert, you can give your garden the greatest chance at success.
8. Don’t Forget to Wash Your Containers
This is something many gardeners forget. You grow flowers or crops in a container, you reach harvest time, and put the planter away.
When you go to use it the next time, you fill it back up with dirt and start again. This shouldn’t happen. By planting in unclean containers, you open your plants up to disease.
If your other plant, or soil, had a pathogen there’s a good chance it could be transferred to your new plant. Avoid this issue by washing all containers prior to planting in them.
9. Don’t Forget About Your Garden
This can happen with any gardening method. If your garden isn’t in front of you, it’s easy to forget about.
However, I’ve found this can be even easier when growing in a container garden. Therefore, ensure you do whatever it takes to avoid forgetting your plants.
You could put a reminder on your phone, leave a note on your fridge, or place your garden in an area that you walk by frequently. By remembering to care for your garden, you’re giving it the opportunity to thrive.
10. Don’t Overplant
This is the biggest thing you shouldn’t do to ensure you’re successful in raising a container garden. Don’t place too many plants in one container.
You also shouldn’t place plants together which would compete for space, light, or nutrients. Therefore, it’s wise to only plant one larger plant per container.
However, if you’d like to grow multiple plants together, make sure you place the taller plant in the center. Then surround it with shorter plants at its base. This should avoid overcrowding and competition.
11. Be Careful When Reusing Soil
Sometimes gardeners will reuse soil to be frugal. We have a local nursery which sells used potting soil. It sells like hotcakes because it’s inexpensive and people have good experiences using it.
However, you must be careful when using older soil in your container garden. If the soil has any diseases in it, this could be carried over to your plants.
Therefore, be sure to heat your soil thoroughly before planting in it. Place the soil on a sheet pan and heat it in your oven to sterilize it before use.
This concludes our tour of secrets to a successful container garden. There are many things you can do, and things you should avoid, to have a positive growing experience when using this gardening method.
As I mentioned earlier, container gardening is my favorite growing method. You can use it indoors, outdoors, or in a greenhouse.
It doesn’t matter if you live on acres of land, or if you only have a balcony for growing space. This style of gardening can allow you to grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, or flowers without taking up a ton of room.
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