The Joys of Container Gardening (Google / Gardening and Landscape Design)

Read at : Google Alert – container gardening

http://www.gardeningandlandscapedesign.com/exploring-the-joys-of-container-gardening/

Exploring the Joys of Container Gardening

There are many reasons for choosing to take up container gardening, most of them relating to limitations of time, space and physical effort. I myself abandoned a fairly large vegetable garden in the country one season for the convenience of growing potted tomatoes. Since then I haven’t grown them any other way.

I recently moved into a city apartment, and I’ve spent the winter planning every inch of my new garden site: the balcony. The objective is to see just how many pots it can hold.

If you’re contemplating container gardening, consider the following:

Use your imagination in choosing containers. A child’s swimming pool, half whiskey barrels, trash bins, even an old shoe will serve the purpose. The most important concerns should be drainage and adequate water. Make sure you punch holes in the bottom of the container and line the bottom with a layer of stone or gravel. Use loam-based soil, free of debris and weeds.

If you’re handy with power tools and prefer to have containers that match your architectural tastes, you can also build your own wooden planter.

If you are planting vegetables like tomatoes and pole beans, or climbing plants like morning glory, insert a cage or canes when the plants are young to provide support and establish upward movement early.

Watering will be an issue, particularly if you are growing sun-loving plants. Containers dry out much faster than the soil in the ground, and unless you are willing to be a slave to the containers, you may want to set up a drip irrigation system on a timer. Ready-made kits are available at garden supply houses, but you can punch holes in an old garden hose, plug the open end, set up a timer to switch on a few times a day and you’ll be in business. Needless to say, the containers need to be near a water source, so plan ahead.

Surviving the Seasons

Winter gardening in containers will be limited to those gardeners in warmer zones (Zone 7 and warmer). No matter how hard I tried to grow perennials and shrubs in containers in Vermont, it never worked. I tried covering the plants, mulching and insulating the containers – all to no avail.

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

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