You may not have a lot of space, but that doesn't mean you can't have a luxurious garden — especially if you're determined to make every inch count. Container gardening is a great way to bring fresh plants into a smaller space. It can also provide a wide variety of benefits to you and your home. From potential health benefits to saving money, this is a gardening method that's plausible for just about anyone. If you have a green thumb and a drive to plant your own veggies and flowers, container gardening just might be for you.
The best part of this kind of gardening is that you don't need an endless supply of space to have fresh vegetables and flowers. Instead, all you need is a few different kinds of pots, plants, and some soil, along with a little bit of information on what container gardening is in the first place.
What Is Container Gardening?
Container gardening is gardening through the use of containers instead of directly in the soil. You use different containers to plant different plants in a fraction of the space. It's a great way to garden, especially if you're living in a small space like an apartment. It's also an excellent alternative if the soil on your property is beyond repair due to damage, or if you live on a plot of land too small for growing many crops. No matter what your living situation is, you can have fresh flowers and vegetables with ease in a container garden.
It doesn't just give you great flowers and vegetables, though. Container gardening is greener, produces healthier plants, and promotes great family bonding. If you want to get started with container gardening, the first question you should ask yourself is what kinds of containers you should use.
What kinds of containers can you use?
You have to be particular when you're picking the containers you're going to use. For example, a cucumber plant is going to need much more room than a lone basil plant. You'll take into account space, the kind of plant, the nutrients that the plant needs, and more. You can get a variety of containers, such as plastic or ceramic pots, from hardware stores. You can also get creative and use different containers around your home. However, be sure that you aren't using certain kinds of plastic, as chemicals may leak into the soil.
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Depending on the plants you're growing, you should look at their root zone, or how far their roots travel. This will help you figure out how big of a pot to put your plant in. For example, tomato and pepper plants have a very large root zone. This means that if you want the plant to do well, you'll need to provide a large pot. A five-gallon pot or bucket is a great choice for either of these plants. Other plants like squash though will need much larger pots and much more soil.
Using pots from hardware stores, or ones you may already own is the safest bet for healthy plants. It's also possible to repurpose containers to use for your garden at a fraction of the cost. If you're going to the hardware store, be aware that you have pots of all different shapes and sizes to choose from. From window boxes to half barrels, you'll be sure to find the right container for your new garden that fits in the space you have available. Now that you've got your pots ready, what can you plant?
What kinds of plants can you plant?
There are a wide variety of plants that thrive when planted in containers, but not all plants do well. You need to take special care to look at the plant's space requirements when you're looking for plants to purchase. Plants like carrots, beets, radishes, and lettuce do very well in containers. These plants can be planted regularly throughout the year and provide a great harvest. Other plants, such as corn, do not do well at all. With stunted growth and a reduced probability of bearing fruit, most corn plants will only disappoint. There are varieties of corn you can get that are better suited to container gardening, though. Any plant with space saver on the label usually does well in a container garden.
It's incredibly important to support your plants throughout their growth stages properly — especially any beans or tomatoes you decide to grow. You can even maximize space by planting low growing plants, like carrots, with tall climbing plants like cucumbers. Let vine plants grow upward on a support system such as a lattice while underground tubular growing plants take to the dirt below. This maximizes your space, and the total number of crops you can grow in one pot. You can get your plants in both seed form and already started from a nursery. Starters should have instructions on the tags in their starter pots. The instructions for the seeds will be on the back of the seed packet. This makes deciding what to include in your container garden much easier.
Should You Start a Container Garden?
If you're itching to add fresh flowers or vegetables to your life, but don't have a lot of space then yes. Container gardens are a great way to maximize the availability of fresh food in your life. You'll also know exactly how your food grew and where it comes from, providing peace of mind. Container gardening is excellent for any small space including patios, porches, sunrooms, and more.
On top of the freshness of your veggies, you'll also get to save money. A packet of seeds, some containers, and a large bag of dirt will be pennies compared to buying your own vegetables weekly. You can also can or pickle your vegetables, ensuring you have fresh food all year long if you live in colder climates. Container gardening is a great way to bring fresh food and savings into your life. How different from regular gardening is it, though?
How Is Container Gardening Different?
Besides the fact that you're working in a smaller space, and in pots instead of the direct ground, there are still a lot of differences. Instead of just watering the dirt, you'll know that the water you use is directly accessible to your plant life. This allows you to waste less water while yielding maximum results. You will also need to be sure that your containers are set up with great drainage options. Plants can drown, and that is the last thing you want for your plants. They can easily die from being over watered and your time and energy could go to waste.
Some plants require a higher pH soil than others. In a traditional garden it's difficult to regulate a specific pH to one spot, but in a container garden, it's incredibly easy to do. You can adjust the pH per container, ensuring that each plant is thriving with their preferred conditions. You will need a pH test kit and either some lime or calcium carbonate to adjust the pH properly for each plant. Ensuring that the pH is correct allows you to encourage maximum growth in the plant, giving you a larger harvest.
You can also very easily provide enough water for each plant, whereas with traditional gardening many gardeners just spray their plants down. This may leave plants that need additional water thirsty, and plants that only need a little water drowning. Overall, container gardening provides more control over your plants and their growing cycles. This allows you to feed, water, harvest, and regrow plants in a timely fashion. Are there more benefits than just great food though?
What Are the Benefits?
There are some great benefits to starting a container garden beside getting fresh, delicious, and safe food without leaving your home. From health benefits to family bonding, container gardening can be a wonderful way to improve your life. Along with that, it provides you an easy way to access a more healthy diet and promotes better mental health.
Plants have been proven to make a positive psychological impact on your health just by being in your vicinity. You won't only be bringing great fresh food into your home, your brain and body will react positively to having plant life around. You don't need a lot of plants to make a difference in your health, either. There's a reason it's suggested to get a plant for your desk at work. Plants promote a positive and healthy mindset. The dinner table and your health aren't the only things a container garden can change, though.
You can start this garden with your family as well. This makes sure everyone is responsible for it, and if you have kids, they can even help out. You'll teach them all about growing different plants, the cycle of life, and how to reap what they sow. They'll also learn about living more sustainably, which provides them skills many children don't attain. Not only is container gardening a great learning experience, but you also get to spend time with your kids and encourage a love of growing things, giving you both a hobby that you can work on together. Container gardening can provide a great bonding environment for a family. Unfortunately, there are a lot of reasons people fail at container gardening, killing their plants and any hope for a strong harvest.
What not to do
When you're gardening in a container, it can be easy to make a fatal mistake. The most common problems start with drainage. You have to be sure that every pot has enough drainage. If you don't have enough drainage, your plants will either drown from overwatering or wilt and die from underwatering. You should keep an eye on the amount of light each plant is getting, too. Some plants need more light access than others just as some plants need more water than others. If they get too much sunlight, they'll burn. If they get too little light, they will wilt and die.
On top of needing just the right amount of light, you also should be sure they have an appropriate amount of dirt. Having too little is devastating to the growth of the plant, but there is no such thing as too much. When in doubt add more dirt. If you plant two plants together that aren’t compatible, they’ll both die. For example, planting cucumbers and tomatoes together is a bad idea. They’ll choke each other out for space, and could kill one another.
Potting soil doesn't have enough nutrients for your plants; you have to add fertilizers. Incorporating fertilizer before planting and throughout their lives ensures that they grow properly. If you buy plants that are already started instead of seeds, you should also save their plant tags after reading them. Those tags will help to remind you of their needs if you ever forget. These are some basic rules you can implement ensuring that you are successful with your container garden. Don't overwater them, don't over- or under-saturate them with sunlight, and don't just drop them into a pot of dirt and expect them to grow.
Is Container Gardening for You?
If you're in a small home, apartment, or just want to spruce up your patio, container gardening is for you. Fresh, reliable food, a healthy psychological impact, and great family bonding experiences are wonderful reasons to start up container gardening. Thankfully it's not a difficult prospect, and with the right amount of care, you can reap the rewards of a delightful hobby for years.
From growing fresh herbs to use in your cooking to growing vegetables to eat year around, if you're looking for a great way to get fresh flowers and vegetables in a small space, container gardening is exactly what you should be doing. So get the family involved, and don’t be afraid to plant some new and interesting plants. Do you have a container garden in your small space? Share how you keep your little garden healthy and glowing in the comments!