Containers in small spaces

Photo credit: BlueRidgeNow

Containers look great with a single plant (Thunbergia) on right or a “thriller, filler, spiller” combination (Gartenmeister fuchsia, coleus and ivy) on left.

Container gardening offers variety in small spaces

Extension Master Gardener

There are many reasons to grow plants in containers. Perhaps you live in an apartment or condo, and the only “garden” you have is a balcony or patio. Maybe you have limited mobility and need to have your plants at a more accessible height. Or you have a large garden yet want a few decorative containers to highlight your front door.


August garden chores

◆ Continue mowing cool season grasses at a height of 3 inches for weed control, preferably with a mulching lawnmower.
◆ Treat lawn with grub control to reduce populations of overwintering insects.
◆ Fertilize rose bushes to promote fall bloom, using granular or liquid fertilizer, fish emulsion or manure tea.
◆ For blooms until frost, remove spent blossoms from purple coneflowers, daisies, black-eyed susans and butterfly bushes.
◆ Has your soil been tested within the last three years? If not, this is a good time to submit samples for analysis and
recommendations. Call or visit the Extension Office for details.

Whatever your reason for gardening in containers, here are a few basics to consider:

The container

Your container should be weatherproof, big enough for the plant roots to grow, have holes in its bottom for drainage, and be clean. Anything from a classic terra cotta urn to an old boot will work. However, most of us use one of three container types for outdoor plants:

Shaded container gardening

Photo credit: Examiner Enterprise

Turn to shaded container gardening during hot summers

By Susan Albert

At this time of year, I start to wish I didn’t have so many plants in containers to water; at least the ones that require full sun. It is a relief, however, that the containers in the shade can go without daily watering.

One exception might be hanging baskets in shade. Since they are elevated, they are susceptible to more air circulation, wind, etc., which means drying out quicker.

Plants that do well in shaded containers include:

• Begonias, especially Dragon Wing and tuberous varieties

• Impatiens and New Guinea impatiens

• Ferns such as maidenhair, asparagus and foxtail (not true ferns), Boston, Dallas, Kimberly Queen. The Japanese Painted hardy fern is suitable for pot culture.

• Hostas work well in containers and you’ll probably see less snail damage, especially if you add pebbles around the plant. Come winter, sink the pots into the ground or store them in an unheated garage or shed, with occasional watering.

• Coleus are superb in containers and offer summer-long foliage color. The flower spikes are typically removed to promote more plant growth.

• Caladiums are another colorful foliage plant, mostly in greens, reds, creams, pinks, that do well on shaded porches and patios.

Next year, I think I’ll reduce watering chores even further by creating more succulent containers in the sunny areas, the ultimate plant for pot culture because succulents love heat.

Read the full article: Examiner Enterprise

A Learning Garden in a Medical Center

Photo credit: My Central Jersey

(Photo: ~Courtesy of Raritan Bay Medical Center)

Container garden constructed across from medical center

Raritan Bay Medical Center

Across the street from Raritan Bay Medical Center’s main entrance in Perth Amboy, hospital volunteers and their children and the Perth Amboy High School ROTC with help from the hospital’s engineering department constructed a container garden during the spring.

The new Learning Garden is being used during the summer to educate children and adults, including hospital staff and their families about the basics of gardening, and the importance of healthy produce and proper nutrition.

“Our department has for a long time wanted to make this type of experiential education available for our community, especially children. Access and availability of healthy, nutritious and fresh produce; what we eat, is such an essential part of our overall health and well-being,” said Nina K. Regevik, MD, FACP, ABIHM, co-director of Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Integrative Health Services. “The Learning Garden serves many purposes. It provides an opportunity for everyone to not only learn the basics of gardening and nutrition but also get some exercise, socialize and empower them to create their own gardens at home.”

The Integrative Health team’s idea for a garden education program became a reality after Dr. Regevik discussed the plan with her peers at the hospital, leading to the hospital’s medical staff donating funds to create the garden. At about the same time, Master Gardener Connie Elek, wife of RBMC Foundation Board Treasurer James J. Elek, pledged her expertise with setting up the garden and providing education.

“Without the medical staff’s generous donation and Connie’s expertise and time, The Learning Garden would not be possible,” said Dr. Regevik.

Read the full article: My Central Jersey

Taking the bare look off entranceways, patios, and decks

Photo credit: STUFF

Succulents in pots on a sunny verandah

Dress up those bare patches with containers


Container grown plants are an ideal way of taking the bare look off entranceways, patios, and decks, and providing a link from the garden to the house.

Sometimes container gardening is the only way you can grow plants when you live in a high-rise flat or apartment where you do not actually own any land.

When you are renting you can take container plants with you when shifting with the minimum of effort.

Almost any container of permanent materials can be used to in which grow plants.

Unusual things such as drainpipes, old boots, and wheelbarrows, as well as the more traditional terracotta, glazed plant pots and wooden tubs suit a wide range of plants.

One thing which must be considered when growing plants in any container is drainage. Unless adequate drainage is provided the soil quickly becomes sour and waterlogged, conditions in which most plants quickly die.

There must be a hole or series of holes in the base of the plant container to allow excess water to escape. Most materials can easily have a hole made in them.

Wood, terracotta and even metal present not much of a problem, but materials such as stoneware, porcelain and glass are more difficult to drill through without shattering the vessel.

It is necessary to place some pieces of broken terracotta pot or largish sized gravel in the bottom of the plant container to assist drainage. The soil mix itself can be bought from plant nurseries or you can make your own, the chief attribute should be that of being well-drained.

This is achieved by the addition of bark compost, coarse sand or fine gravel, pumice or vermiculite, all of which open up the soil structure to allow air throughout the mix.


Read the full article: STUFF


For those who missed them



A Balcony Garden


I Swore I Wouldn’t: A Balcony Garden Journey

by alightningbug

I swore I wouldn’t try to grow tomato plants on our balcony again. That was about seven years ago. And I hadn’t grown ’em since. So imagine my surprise this year when all that changed.

When I started growing tomatoes the first summer we lived here I thought that no pesky insects could find their way to our plants way up here on the third floor. But find us they did. How’d those aphids get here? Are those other things mites?

Not only did insects find us but it wasn’t long before the squirrels did too. The outer shell of our building was coated in artificial stucco. The squirrels could grab the bumpy texture with their claws and scale up the side of the building like Spidermen in furry gray suits. Not only did the squirrels find us, I’m pretty sure they put posters up around the neighborhood advertising the free food to all their friends. Drove the cats bananas as the squirrels taunted them then escaped up a stuccoed pillar.

I tried sprays for the insects and mesh along with hot pepper sprinkles to discourage the squirrels. But they’d still find my tomatoes.

There are challenges to growing tomato plants in containers and especially so when you have only a balcony and jugs to carry water instead of a backyard with a hose.

The plants grew nicely. Tomatoes too. More than once I’d patiently wait one more day for a tomato to turn red only go out the next and find bites already taken out of it. How rude of them to take a few bites and leave the rest behind! Do they know how hard I worked to make those things grow?

Read the full text: alightningbug

Urban Farms and Gardens Are Feeding Cities Around the World

Photo credit: Food Tank

Around the world, urban farms and gardens are cultivating good food on underutilized land.
Jeff Wright (

28 Inspiring Urban Agriculture Projects



Around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farms already supplyfood to about 700 million residents of cities, representing about a quarter of the world’s urban population. By 2030, 60 percent of people in developing countries will likely live in cities.

At Food Tank, we are amazed by the efforts of hundreds of urban farms and gardens to grow organic produce, cultivate food justice and equity in their communities, and revitalize urban land. Urban agriculture not only contributes to food security, but also to environmental stewardship and a cultural reconnection with the land through education.

The Urban Food Policy Pact (UFPP), to be signed on World Food Day, will address the potential of cities to contribute to food security through urban agriculture. Atechnical team of 10 members organized physical and virtual workshops with many of the 45 cities participating in the Pact, and drafted a Framework for Action that includes 37 provisions covering the themes of governance, food supply and distribution, sustainable diets and nutrition, poverty alleviation, food production and food and nutrient recovery.

“The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the importance of building sustainable cities,” says Maurizio Baruffi, Chief of Staff of the Mayor of Milan, Italy. “The City of Milan is partnering with urban areas around the world to embark on this journey, starting from food.”

Do you want to discover urban agriculture projects in your own city, or are you interested in visiting farms during your travels to new urban areas? Check out these inspiring projects, and find even more links to urban agriculture projects below.


Abalimi is an urban agriculture and environmental action group located outside of Capetown, South Africa. The organization supports and assists groups and individuals looking to improve their livelihoods through organic farming.

Alternatives’ Feeding Citizenship

A nonprofit that promotes social and environmental justice in Montreal, Canada, Alternatives’ Feeding Citizenship is growing healthy food to fuel healthy communities. The project engages the community through horticultural training programs while supporting school and neighborhood gardens.

Read the full article: Food Tank