Most people think of a garden as a large plot of ground with vegetables neatly arranged in rows. However, many people live in areas where a garden plot is not desirable or possible. With the increasing popularity of condominiums and apartments, some green thumbs get itchy without a place to grow. Others have adequate yards, but lack the time and interest required to tend a traditional garden plot.
Container gardening is becoming increasingly popular. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be produced with just a container, some soil-less potting mixture, seeds, fertilizer, sunshine, and water. Such a garden can provide just enough cucumbers, lettuce and radishes to keep those summer salads lively!
Containers are versatile and mobile. They can be placed just about anywhere and moved if necessary. The balcony of an apartment, a patio or a deck can be the setting for a container garden. Done correctly, a vegetable container garden can also be attractive and add a colorful touch or a focal point for a patio, balcony or deck. Some vegetables make attractive additions to colorful flowering containers. Container gardens are not limited to apartment patios or window boxes, although both make practical locations.
Choosing a container is mostly a matter of creativity. A wide variety of plastic, ceramic, and wood pots and boxes are available at nurseries or department stores. Just about anything that holds soil will work. Planters have been created from barrels, car tires, old shoes, coffee pots, pans, milk pails, old wheelbarrows, cement blocks, hanging baskets and the like. Whimsy can play a large part in choosing a planter that fits the gardener.
Since gardeners generally put potting soil into containers, any soil difficulties inherent to a backyard garden are avoided. Weeds are also less of a problem. Potting soil is easy to work with because it is neither alkaline nor composed of heavy clay, which bakes hard in the sun.
When placing your container on your deck or balcony (or wherever you can find a good, convenient spot), be sure to choose a location that gets plenty of sunshine and allows for adequate air circulation. Ready access to water can also save valuable time and allow you to quickly and efficiently care for your fruits and vegetables. A word of caution about watering: growing a garden in a container will require a bit more watering attention than a traditional in-ground garden plot. Hot air and dry breezes can quickly dry out container soil. In addition to the environmental conditions, container gardens don’t have a deep subsoil to draw moisture from. Pay close attention to the moisture content in your container, paying extra special attention as the summer days grow longer and hotter, keep in soil moist. Also, too much water can cause plant damage if too much water is applied and your container does not drain sufficiently.
When planting in containers, remember that sometimes less is more – by that I mean, don’t over crowd your container with too many plants. Adequate information on planting and plant spacing for many different fruits and vegetables can be found at www.essentialgardenguide.com.
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Jeremy Wycherly writes gardening articles and container garden advice.
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