Container gardening is basically what the term says. Gardening in a container. Its the ideal solution for those who have little or next to no garden space. Some advantages are flexibility to move your plants, you can adapt your garden to virtually anything with adequate light, less weeding and freedom to interchange plants throughout the year.To help you with this project we've highlighted some key points
Selecting the Right Container
Planter boxes, wooden barrels, hanging baskets and large flowerpots are just some examples of containers you can use. Anything that can hold soil and water has the potential to be a new home for your seeds.
Next time your at your local garden centre be aware of:
- Terracotta and clay pots require more regular watering than sealed or ceramic pots
- Cheap plastic pots will deteriorate in UV sunlight and may need to be replaced after 1 or 2 seasons
- Glazed ceramic pots are excellent – just ensure adequate drainage
- Height and number of plants will determine the container size
- Small pots restrict the root area and dry out more quickly
- Deep rooted vegetables require deep pots
- Light-coloured containers lessen heat absorption and discourage uneven root growth
Whatever your choice, containers should be set on bricks, purpose built stands or pot feet to allow free drainage. You’ll find most plants prefer wet feet and dry ankles.
What soil to use for your container garden
You've got your container so now lets fill it with soil! But what soil do you pick? Go with a good potting mixture that is formulated for perfect drainage and water retention. Commercial potting mixes are often slightly acidic, so you may benefit by adding a little lime to your soil when getting started.
When adding soil mix to your container, leave a 5cm space between the top of the soil and the top of the container. You’ll then be able to add 2cm of mulch when required to help water retention and eliminate weeds.
If your growing your plants from seeds, you can either germinate first by using some of our propagation products OR fill your pots with potting mix with a top layer of seed raising mix. Seed raising mix is finer than regular potting mix which makes it easier for small seeds to germinate and establish.
Don't forget the sunshine!
Your container garden will need at least five hours of direct sunlight each day, and many plants will benefit from even more. As a general rule, leafy vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce can tolerate the most shade, while root crops such as beets and carrots will need more sunlight. Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers need the most sun. The amount of sunlight needed by flowers varies between the varieties grown.
Watering & Fertilising Your Container Garden
In an exposed location, container plants lose moisture quickly with some plants needing to be watered daily, especially during hot, dry weather. Potting mixes tend to drain water rapidly, resulting in essential nutrients being washed out. To combat this, fertilise with a controlled release fertiliser and supplement with liquid or soluble fertilisers to maximise growth and increase the harvest. Check the plant food labels to ensure that they contain a complete, balanced solution including trace elements.
What seeds should you use for container gardening?
Certain varieties are more suitable for growing in containers. For example, vegetables with smaller-sized fruit or plants will bear regular-sized fruit on a compact plant. Herbs, mini tomatoes, leafy salad mixes and strawberries are examples of edible plants that thrive in pots. If you’re growing from seed, keep a look out for seed packets that are labeled as ‘Container’ or ‘Dwarf’ varieties.
Mr Fothergill’s ‘Container Garden’ seed range makes this job easy, as these varieties are specially selected for growing in pots and containers.
As you can see, space restrictions shouldn't be a reason as to why you can't have your own garden. With the right information and the right tools you can be harvesting your own veggies in no time!