5 Container Gardening Tips to Successfully Grow Produce

container garden
 
If your yard is not that big, container gardening is a good option! Container gardens can include flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even small trees and shrubs. Here are some tips to get you started on this year’s container garden.
 
Assess Your Sunlight
You need to take notes on how much area receives full sunlight and for how long each day. Some plants do better in shade than others. So, you need to know how much exposure your containers are going to receive before you start your seeds or buy your plants.
 
You will need to time the sun exposure in certain areas. Once you know how much direct sunlight your container will get you can refer to a sun calculator to determine which plants will work best. Most seed packets and seedling plants come with instructions that tell you how much sun they need.
 
 
Choose Your Containers
You can basically grow plants in anything from 5-gallon plastic construction buckets to sophisticated, custom, raised wood boxes. You can read this article to find more ideas about container gardening.
 
You really need containers that will drain. Clay pots with holes work great. Same is true for plastic that you can drill holes into the bottom of. The roots need room and can’t be saturated with water all the time unless you are growing a plant like watercress that needs constant moisture.
 
Here are a few other ideas for containers:
• Wooden wine casks
• Plastic tote bags
• Old wheelbarrows
• Wooden drawers from discarded furniture
• Rain boots
• Bathtub
• Wagon
 
Get Nutrient Dense Soil
If you are fortunate enough to be able to find a rich, earthworm filled soil source that you can dig up, then that is the way to go. Otherwise, you can rely on purchased potting soil for my containers.
When purchasing potting soil, look for organic soil that doesn’t have any chemical fertilizers or additives in it. You can mix in an all natural plant food of either your own composted vegetable matter, seaweed, free range animal manure, or even fish emulsion, depending on what you are growing.
 
 
Give Your Seedlings Time to Adjust
Seedlings are almost always started inside your home or in a greenhouse where it is nice and warm. Before you plant your seedlings in the containers, let them acclimate to the extremes of the outdoors gently. Place seedlings outside for an hour or two each day for direct sun and wind exposure. They also need to adjust to insects.
 
If you have been watering your seedlings with tap or filtered water, start adding some fresh rainwater to their hydration regimen. Eventually, allow them to stay outside overnight. Over time they will adapt to the conditions and will survive better once you plant them. If your containers are inside, this might not be an issue.
 
Care for Your Plants
Any container garden needs care, just like ground gardens. Pay attention to how much water your plants are receiving. If rainwater is adequate, don’t be tempted to hydrate more. Remember, the containers will not drain as quickly as the ground.
 
Be mindful of the amount of sunlight your containers are receiving. They may need to be moved if it is too much or too little, especially as the seasons change and days grow longer. That is the nice thing about containers – you can relocate them.
 
Flowering plants need to be deadheaded from time to time. Herbs need to be pruned so that they don’t bolt and go to seed too quickly. Fruits and vegetables need to be harvested to make room for new growth. Weeds need to be kept in check so that they don’t choke the roots.
 
 
If you have limited space or are physically unable to work on the ground, containers may be your best bet for putting your green thumb to use this growing season. There are so many creative options for containers. And, you really can grow just about anything in a container, depending on the size.
Container gardens are attractive, relatively easy to maintain, and an efficient use of a small yard.
 
 
Article adapted from motherearthnews.com

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