The easiest things for new gardeners to grow are containers (Google / Green Answers)

Read at : Google Alert – container gardening

Pink Thumbs: Container Gardening

By John Kurpierz

Now that we have some basic tools and some experience with the absolute minimum in necessary materials (covered here and here, for new readers), we can upgrade a bit. The easiest things for new gardeners to grow are containers.

Containers offer several advantages to gardeners. For starters, they don’t require a patch of land. Containers may be the only way to garden if you live in an apartment and have only a fire escape or balcony to grow things on. Even if you do have ground to plant things in, depending on the climate and soil quality you might be better off growing potted plants rather than struggling with uncooperative clay alkaline soil. Similarly, if a particular plant is picky about soil and needs a type that none of your other plants do, it’s much easier to satisfy it by putting it in a pot or raised bed by itself than trying to amend the soil. For example, anywhere there’s limestone soil, acidic potting soil is the only way to get blue hydrangeas, happy azaleas, or productive blueberry bushes. Alternately, certain aggressive plants, such as mint, can be planted in pots to ensure they don’t spread to become tyrants of your garden. If you bury the pot in the garden bed you can even have the look of it being part of the arrangement with the safety of keeping it in its own cell. You can even plant it, uproot it to a new spot come winter, and replant in the spring, because pots are portable.

This sort of mobility from pots is useful because it lets you cherrypick climates for your plants: you can grow dwarf citrus further north than normal by using a pot and bringing it in during nights where it gets too cool. Beyond this, container gardens tend to be lower-maintenance, with fewer weeds, and smaller plants that require less pruning and deadheading. All this adds up to a gentle, easy-to-fix gardening experience that is a great introduction on how to do things before you scale up to a community garden plot or a full backyard veggie garden.

Obviously there are some drawbacks to container gardening, or else it’d be the only gardening anyone did. The most basic reason is frugality: if you can grow the plants you want in the dirt your house sits on, why would you drive (or hopefully bike) to the store to purchase separate dirt and a container to hold the dirt and plant?

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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