How to Start a Container Garden

May 25, 2021

Do you love to garden but only have a small space? Or are you interested in growing some vegetables but aren’t sure where to start? Container gardening might be a good fit for you! Read on to find out how to start your container garden today!

What is container gardening? It’s essentially gardening in pots! It’s a great gardening solution if you live in an apartment or don’t have much space. But of course, you can add containers to gardens of any size! You can use pots of all shapes, colours, and sizes to give your garden some variety and create eye-catching plant displays. Also, your container garden doesn’t only have to include pots! Window boxes and hanging baskets can also be a great addition.

Container gardening is great for flowers, but it’s also a good way to grow herbs and vegetables. Herbs such as thyme, basil, and chives are quite happy to grow in pots, and vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, peas, peppers, and potatoes can grow well in pots too. So if you’ve always dreamed of having a vegetable garden but don’t have the space, this might be perfect for you!

See our suggestions below on how to start your container garden!

First of all, plan out what you want to plant and where your containers will be located. Some plants will require full sun, others partial shade or full shade. Of course, you can always move your pots around if you find that certain plants aren’t thriving in their original location, depending on the space you have available.

Choose your containers carefully! There are pros and cons for different types of containers. Plastic containers can deteriorate and are not as long-lasting as other types of containers, but they are very lightweight. Terracotta pots look beautiful and last longer, but they dry out quickly and usually require more watering. Also, the greater the amount of soil, the more moisture the soil will retain. So if you want a lower-maintenance container that doesn’t require watering as often, it’s a good idea to choose a larger pot! You can also buy self-watering containers, which just require the water reservoir to be kept full.

Drainage is important! Any pot that does not already have holes in the bottom will need to have holes drilled for drainage. To create optimal drainage, you can also elevate your pot by using pot feet or placing the pots on a cart or rack.

Clean your containers before use. This is especially important if your containers may have held diseased plants previously. Make sure to use an environmentally-friendly cleaner if you can, and let the pots dry fully after rinsing them out.

Use fertilizer! If the soil doesn’t contain fertilizer, you can mix in fertilizer before planting and add fertilizer a few times throughout the season, according to the directions on the fertilizer package. You can also add compost, which is another good source of nutrients for plants.

Choose a good potting mix. Soil directly from your garden can contain too much clay and may not drain well. It may also carry soil-borne diseases or pests.  Choosing a high-quality potting soil will help you avoid these issues!

If growing vegetables or other plants that tend to get large, choose dwarf or bush varieties where possible. Also make sure to add tall supports or cages for plants that need support as they grow, such as peas and tomatoes.

If you’d like to have a container that holds a few varieties of decorative plants, remember to use the gardening rule of including “a thriller, a filler, and a spiller.” This means that you would choose one plant to be the focal point of the display (this plant is usually taller than the others), a filler plant to cover the soil, and another plant that will spill over the edge of the pot as it grows.

Water your container garden regularly! When watering your plants, keep watering until water starts to come out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Then stop watering immediately to prevent the soil from getting too soggy. To test if your plants need to be watered, check the soil about an inch down from the surface. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. For vegetables especially, you may need to water them daily or even twice a day at the height of summer or during a heat wave or dry spell.

Do you have a container garden? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks! 

By Kate at FWIO

fwio@fwio.on.ca