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Containing your excitement: Some gardening tips
v Avoid containers with narrow openings.
v Cheap plastic pots may deteriorate in sunlight, and terra-cotta pots dry out rapidly. Glazed ceramic pots are excellent choices but require several drainage holes.
v Wooden containers are susceptible to rot. Redwood and cedar are relatively rot-resistant and can be used without staining or painting. Avoid wood treated with creosote, penta or other toxic compounds, because the vapors can damage the plants. One advantage of wooden containers is that they can be built to sizes and shapes that suit the location.
v Use containers between 15 and 120 quarts of capacity. The size and number of plants to be grown will determine the size of the container used. Small pots restrict the root area and dry out very quickly. Deep-rooted vegetables require deep pots.
v Make sure the pot has adequate drainage. Holes should be 1/2 inch across. Line the base of the pot with newspaper to prevent soil loss.
v Set containers on bricks or blocks to allow free drainage.
v Because potting mixes drain water rapidly, fertilizer will be washed out of the container as the soil is watered. Lighter mixes will require more frequent fertilizing than heavier mixes. It’s a good idea to apply a diluted liquid fertilizer with every other watering. Liquid fish emulsion or liquid seaweed are great plant boosters, but remember to give the plants a variety of nutrients. Check the labels on the products to be sure that they contain a complete, balanced solution that includes trace elements.
v Line hanging baskets with sphagnum moss for water retention. Keep baskets away from afternoon sun.
v If you choose clay pots, remember that clay is porous and water is lost from the sides of the container. Plants in clay pots should be monitored closely for loss of moisture.
The University of Illinois Extension offers detailed information about container gardening, including types of containers, soil mixes, watering and fertilizing, and general care of container gardens.
This site offers information about plants for container gardens, containers to use and pest control, as well as message boards and links.