Gardening in Small Spaces
April 18, 2013
Container gardens are becoming one of the most popular types of gardening. Container gardens can be grown on apartment balconies, courtyards, decks, patios, and areas with poor soil.
Just about any container can be used including clay, ceramic and plastic pots, wood barrels, wire baskets lined with sphagnum moss or coconut coir, planter boxes, and even cement blocks. Be sure you never use a container that held toxic materials, especially if edible plants are going to be grown.
When picking a container, the most important thing to consider is drainage. Plants will not grow if the soil is continually water logged. If there are no existing drainage holes in the container make multiple holes in the bottom. Containers made from clay and wood lose moisture quickly, but allow air movement into the root zone. Metal, plastic, and glazed containers hold water longer but restrict air movement; making drainage holes is especially important in this type of container.
Potting soil should be free of disease organisms, insects, and weed seeds. Never use the same potting soil from the previous growing season because it may contain disease organisms. More frequent watering is required for container gardens than traditional gardens because the exposed sides cause faster evaporation.
When picking vegetables for containers, look for labels such as "bush," "patio," "dwarf," or "compact." Some vegetables that do well in containers are beets, beans, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, eggplant, green onions, lettuce, collards, bok choy, spinach, kale, tomatoes, peppers, and radishes. Some of the herbs that do well in containers are thyme, oregano, parsley, rosemary, basil, chives, cilantro, and lavender.
Last year I had great success planting cherry tomatoes and peppers in containers on my patio.
In the corner of my yard, I planted larger tomatoes using an unconventional container. I planted them directly in large potting soil bags. To make your own, poke lots of holes on one side of the bag for drainage. Place that side of the bag directly on the ground. Then cut an opening on the other side of the bag and place your tomato plant in. The best part of this is that there is no weeding or tilling required during the growing season. I covered the bags with mulch so the area would look a little better, but this is not necessary. This was a great solution for this area of the yard, since it contained so many underground utility lines and we didn’t have to do any tilling in this area.
For more information on container gardening on the Internet check out county and state extension agencies websites.
The Library contains many books on container gardening.
Now if we can just get the weather to cooperate. Happy gardening!
Blue Springs South Branch