You don’t need a big yard to flex your green thumb this spring. With container gardening, you can grow garden-fresh food and plants even in the smallest spaces.
Here are a few tips to help get your container garden started this spring.
Choose your container. Planter boxes, wooden barrels, hanging baskets and large flowerpots are a few of the containers you can use to grow just about anything grown in a regular garden plot. Plastic pots may deteriorate in sunlight, while terracotta pots dry out and require frequent watering. Glazed ceramic pots are excellent choices but require several drainage holes.
Use a good potting soil mix, not garden soil. Regular garden soil contains weed seeds and usually too much clay, which will hold moisture in pots, drowning the roots. For containers, opt for something more porous. Garden centres sell packaged organic potting soil specially formulated for container gardening.
Fertilize frequently. Flowers and vegetables grown in containers will benefit from regular feeding throughout the growing season. There are many organic fertilizers such as manure tea (a nitrogen-rich liquid plant food made from water and manure) that can safely be used on plants, especially vegetables.
Water regularly. Container plants often need more water, especially when placed in direct sunlight and during hot dry weather. Water your containers at least once a day and in the early part of the day. Add water until you see it flowing from the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. If you don’t have the time or are going away for a while, self-watering containers are also available; these have a reservoir at the bottom to keep your plants moist for a few days at a time.
Watch for pests. If your plants are threatened by aphids or other common insect pests, remove the bugs by hand or move the container to your kitchen sink or shower and use your water sprayer to spray the plants — especially under the leaves — to remove bugs. If the pests persist, mix equal parts of water and non-phosphate liquid detergent in a spray bottle and spray the leaves.