Basic Guide To Indoor Container Gardening (Healthy Home Smart)

Read at : Healthy Home Smart

http://healthyhomesmart.com/2010/05/05/basic-guide-to-indoor-container-gardening-3/

Basic Guide To Indoor Container Gardening

Author: Glenn Smith

Your success or failure will depend entirely on how well your containers are “built,” where they are placed, and how much light they receive — especially if you plan to attempt herbs or vegetables. (Remember, the deeper rooted the vegetable the deeper pot it will need. If you’re unsure, ask at your local nursery.) Of course the good thing is that because you are gardening in containers, you can move them. Be prepared for that if things start wilting. Although your indoor container plants may require more of you in terms of planning and care, the reward of welcoming living plants into your home will far outweigh the challenges.

A special word of caution, however. Many plants are toxic to household pets, cats in particular. If you have animals, you may want to place your containers in an area where the pets are not allowed or plan to carefully select only those plants that will not harm your furry friends. Selecting the Right Containers We’re all comfortable with the concept of having a fern in the house, the stray begonia, or maybe a cactus in the window sill. Ditch that idea if you really want to have an indoor “garden.” Start thinking in terms of attractive containers (remember, they’re going to be part of your home) that are large enough (15 to 120 quarts) to play host to a community of complimentary plants.

By selecting the right plants, you can even achieve natural pest control. Some plants have allelochemicals in their leaves or roots, which drive bugs away. For instance, planting basil near fennel will keep hover flies off the fennel. (Like the caution about your pets, this kind of planned planting requires careful research. Again, make a friend at your local plant nursery.) You can use just about anything that will hold soil and provide adequate drainage as a container. (Drain holes should be about 1/2 inch across and don’t forget to line the pot with a thin mesh at the bottom to prevent soil loss through the holes. Also, plan to set the pots up on something like bricks or decorative stands to further enhance drainage.)

If necessary, you can always put holes in the bottom of whatever you’ve selected yourself. If you pick something like an interesting old washtub that will rust, get something of the approximate size and shape to serve as a liner and limit or eliminate the container’s contact with moisture. Some other things to remember: 1.) Containers with narrow openings limit what you can plant. 2.) Plastic pots deteriorate when exposed to sunlight. 3.) Wooden containers that are not lined rot. (Redwood and cedar do better than other woods.) 4.) Terracotta pots dray out rapidly, so the plants require watering more often. 5.) In hot climates, pick light-colored pots to decrease the absorption of heat. 6.) Glazed ceramic pots work well from a watering standpoint and are attractive. Selecting Your Soil You want a planting medium that holds enough moisture to keep the roots of your plants from drying out, but one that also drains fairly rapidly. (Standing water in a container makes the plants themselves rot.)

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.