Container Gardening is a perfect hobby for beginners. It is easy to do on a low budget, but it does require a little more thought than throwing dirt and seeds in a pot with some water and add sunlight. You will need to do some research regarding the sunlight exposure you have and what plants are perfect for your location.
Choose a location
The first step to container gardening is to choose your location. Where in your surroundings gets a fair amount of sunlight? Investigate and keep a small journal of what time and how much light exposure each area gets. Check for sunlight exposure in the morning, afternoon, and evening. This is to ensure that you have the best amount of sunlight for the type of plants you decide to use.
Choose a Container
The first step to starting a container garden is choosing the right container. You can use almost anything as a container, from traditional terra cotta pots to old buckets, baskets, or even a broken wheelbarrow. I have used garbage cans before, and they work just fine. I am currently using old Rubbermaid storage totes to grow in. The important thing is to make sure your container has drainage holes at the bottom to allow water to escape. In our containers, we drill holes in the bottom and on the side. The side holes have proved to be very useful when we get large amounts of rainfall here in the South.
When choosing your container, keep in mind that smaller containers will dry out more quickly than larger ones, so you may need to water them more frequently. It's also important to choose a container that is the right size for your plant. I have a 2″ rule, every time a plant grows 2 inches, I repot it. A plant that is too large for its container will become root-bound, which can stunt its growth.
Choose the Soil
The next step to starting a container garden is choosing the right soil. The soil you use in your container garden should be light, porous, and well-draining to prevent water from pooling at the bottom of your container.
You can purchase potting soil from your local gardening center, or you can make your own by mixing equal parts of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. Adding a slow-release fertilizer to your soil will also help your plants grow strong and healthy. I usually get the Miracle-Gro soil from Wal-Mart, or Black Kow from our local co-op.
Choose the Plants
When choosing plants for your container garden, consider the amount of sunlight your container will receive. Most plants require at least six hours of sunlight per day to thrive. Make sure you do some research to choose plants that are suited to your climate. You can check your Garden Zone here. If your container will be in a shady area, choose plants that are known to tolerate low light conditions.
You should also consider the size of your container when choosing plants. Large containers can accommodate larger plants like tomatoes, peppers, or even small trees. Smaller container choices are best suited for herbs, succulents, or smaller flowering plants.
Don't just limit yourself to ferns and flowers! If you want vegetables, try planting some! Some great vegetable plants for small spaces and apartment balconies are tomatoes and cucumbers. They have a Patio Tomato available; I have seen them at Lowe's and Wal-Mart. There is also a variety of cucumber that grows in a bush, making it perfect for a balcony or small front patio or porch.
Caring for Your Container Garden
Caring for your container garden is easy, but there are a few things to keep in mind to keep your plants healthy and thriving. Here are some tips for caring for your container garden:
- Water your plants regularly: Different plants have different watering needs. Be sure to water your plants according to their individual needs to prevent overwatering or underwatering. Do some research and check the tag that came with the plants or use Google. OR ask here in my Facebook Group, Beginner Gardeners Start Here
- Fertilize your plants: Most plants will benefit from regular fertilization. Use a slow-release fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer every two to four weeks to keep your plants growing strong.
- Deadhead your plants: Deadheading is the process of removing dead or dying flowers from your plants. This helps to promote new growth. Also, remember to remove any brown or yellowing leaves, this keeps your plants looking tidy and healthy.