Containers permit gardening in small spots. A balcony, front porch or back step or little corner of the yard can become a garden for vegetables and flowers.
Food gardening in containers on the balcony or deck can keep the plants and their fruit safe from prowling critters. Our daughter-in-law has a high deck over the walk-out basement. Light conditions are very good, while the 10 ft ‘altitude’ prevents deer and smaller critters from raiding the salad makings! The family can enjoy some tomatoes, peppers and greens.
Watering is easier while grass and weeds are not part of the picture. Intensive planting can be used for more than a few salad veggies.
Containers can be set on walks or along narrow and hard borders. We enjoy a flower and foliage space at the step landing on our deck.
Follow that sun!
Plants in containers can be moved around for the best lighting or for a good rain shower. The containers can be set up inside earlier before summer growing weather has begun. Or the plants can be moved inside or closer to the house as the weather cools in the autumn to get a few more days to enjoy them.
At the Diary for The Legacy Gardens, I often write more about my favorite garden containers.
DIY containers can be re are often recycled items. Creativity and economy can run wild with re-purposed and re-used ‘JUNK.’ Vintage washtubs or buckets that have become leaky can be used for larger containers. The leaks are perfect because the plants in the containers will need drainage.
Some gardeners do not want to add all of the soil required to fill a larger tub. And, some plants do not thrive on the deep dirt. A solution is to put stones or empty, disposable water bottles, twigs, cardboard or other organic debris into the bottom of the tub. The debris brings extra opportunity for air pockets and space for the plant roots. Heavy, wet soil can lead to rot and death for young plants.
Gardening ideas for that old soft shoe
Old cowboy boots, unique boots or shoes or even old hats can be homes for plants. Conversations are bound to start up when visitors see the clever re-use of an old shoe! If the shoes are not worn on the soles, they should be checked for drainage. If the stitching lets excess water escape, it is not necessary to cut more holes into the shoe.
Another option for shoes would be to place some drainage stones in the toe of the shoe and set a plant in a smaller pot into the opening or top of the shoe. That way, a small reservoir could be placed under the pot, making water easier to manage for the plant in the shoe.
Plants who live in glass houses
Unusual or old glassware can be used as a pot for water loving plants. If your plant requires soil, it would be best to have small plants in separate pots placed into the glass. I choose water loving or rooting plants for the glass. A brand snifter with colorful stones can be a pretty choice.
I confess to having a collection of coffee pot carafes after the electric pot has stopped working. Sprigs of bridal veil, mouse ears, wandering jew (in all colors), sweet potato and other vines which can thrive in fluid make an “Up-cycled” carafe their home!
Metal garden container ideas
Growers have long used old cans to hold plants. If the can rusts, that is only another nutrient for the plants.
I knew when I brought this olive oil home from the market that I would be keeping the can for plants. It may work for three years. I know that it has more rust this second season.
I have painted coffee cans, added wire handles to create a colorful bucket full of plants. I like to use small cans as starter containers for small plants.
Beware of the top in case the can opener skipped. If there is a tag left, it can cut fast and deep! I bend it flat with a pair of pliers.
Holes punched in the bottom of the can provide drainage for the plant.
Put those plants in plastic
Small plastic containers with drainage holes poked in them can be great for seed starters. A single serve yogurt cup will accommodate that plant till garden time.
Various Plastic containers can be re-directed to pots for your plants. Sometimes I get a fancy notion and cover the cottage cheese containers (3 pound size) with Contact paper (link) to dress them up. These are large enough to keep a smaller plant for a season. A gallon jug, the sort of jug that comes with milk, water, juice or cider, can be extremely useful. The free download “ DIY Garden Containers” has a simple plan for a pot created from a jug. Let your own creativity run wild! Subscribe today for access to this newest item in the free download library
Temporary housing for your plants
When I buy plants at the greenhouse, the weather is usually still too cold to put them in the garden. I take them from the store container and put them into a larger one. We use a lot of yogurt and cottage cheese in larger containers. These will work nicely to give the greenhouse plants a chance to keep growing until time to put them in the garden. The pots they came are often root-bound, risking stunted plants by warm weather.
I like to let slips from overwintered plants grow roots in water, then plant them in the yogurt containers till they can go outside in the bigger pots.
Container Gardening Conditions
Anything that will hold dirt can work for your container gardening needs. You can buy containers (pots) at every price range. The exact sizes or shapes to benefit your plant or fit with your theme are available.
Items that weren’t created to be containers may require some work on your part.
Proper drainage is required to keep a plant from rotting when water can’t get away.
I watch flea markets and eBay.com for pretty vintage ceramic pots.
Size matters to your plants
Size is important to your plant and your landscaping. Larger pots are required to support a tomato, potato or other large food producing plant. Growers with whom I’ve talked, recommend a 5-gallon container for each tomato plants. They will need good soils, drainage and additional nutrition. Even little things like bunching onions don’t do well in small decorative pots.
Many herbs, ferns and flowers thrive on a pot that is a tight fit for their roots. A smaller pot will work great for them.
Boston ferns and rosemary are two plants that like ‘tight shoes’, but don’t care for very wet or very dry ‘feet! ‘ A terra cotta pot that you can water as needed would let their roots or ‘feet’ breathe. Because the terra cotta clay pots aren’t sealed, they will dry out quicker than ceramic, metal or plastic. I haven’t run adequate tests, but plan to because I think the opportunity for the pot and roots to breathe would be good for the plants.
Ready-made economical garden containers
Plastic containers are often reasonably priced at the big box stores including Walmart or Dollar General. Amazon has online offerings for pots, seeds and plants.
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Home improvement stores, such as Lowes, Home Depot or Mennards have extensive gardening departments. Many of these resources also have seeds or plants.
Container within a container
A sweet concrete planter came with our house. In full sun, it was filled with dirt and for a few years, I added plants to that. Some even went to seed, repopulating the planter. I learned that concrete breathes and dries out swiftly. Hot afternoon sun tempts a plant to suck the water up fast.
The planter is not large, but big enough that young plants feel lost in it. For the past 10 years, I’ve set a smaller pot with a water tray inside the concrete. The happiest favorite flower for that spot has been bright wax begonias. They enjoy the sun and the tighter pot. The ‘secret’ water reservoir under the pot helps me keep them more comfortable. The begonias like the summer conditions of heat, draught and abundant rain. Extreme dry weather that comes to our area later in the hot summer would be their doom. A modest amount of water to saturate the pot and keep a backup in the reservoir sets them free to enjoy hot conditions. The begonias show their appreciation of the container within the container with leaves becoming rich, dark red/green while the blooms are a multitude
What is your favorite container?
I would love to hear from you about your choices for garden containers. You can find contact information HERE.
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