Container Gardening

Growing plants in containers can be the perfect solution for gardeners with limited space. But even if you have an abundant in-ground garden, you might appreciate the flexibility of growing organic plants in pots.

Brighten up a patio or deck with colorful flowers or grow your own vegetables. You can move the pots around to capture the sunlight and move them to the shade when it gets too hot.

What to plant

People grow nearly every plant under the sun in containers. Most annual flowers are well suited for organic container gardening, and their long blooming season makes them ideal candidates for pots. You can also successfully grow many vegetables in containers; just remember that most will grow best with about six hours of sunlight a day so you’ll need to place them in a fairly sunny location. Look for special dwarf varieties of tomatoes developed just for patios; compact cherry tomatoes and peppers are also good choices for container gardens. Lettuce, greens, spinach, herbs, onions and carrots all grow well in pots.

More tips for success

Planting: Just before planting, make sure the soil mix is wet. Arrange the plants in the pot, add the soil around them, and gently pat it down around the plants. Don’t fill the soil too close to the top of the pot; you want to be able to soak the plants well without water overflowing.

Watering: Most container plantings tend to dry out quickly and will need very regular watering; during hot spells they may even need to be watered twice a day. During extreme heat or a weekend away you can temporarily put the pots in a tray with standing water, but don’t leave them longer than a day or two or the roots may rot.

Fertilizing: Flowers and vegetables grown in containers will benefit from regular feeding throughout the growing season. There are many organic fertilizers available that can safely be used on container plantings; many are compost-based.

Controlling Pests: Troublesome insects are a fact of life when gardening. Since garden bugs do the most damage when plants are stressed or starting to wilt, be sure to keep them well watered. The best way to rid plants of pests like aphids is just to remove the pests with your hands. You can also move the container to your kitchen sink and use your water sprayer to spray the plants, especially under the leaves, to remove bugs.

Maintenance: Deadheading will keep flowers looking fresh, and removing dead leaves will help control bugs. One of the best aspects of container gardening is its forgiving nature; if a plant isn’t thriving or starts to wither, you can use a garden spade to carefully remove it and simply plant something else in its place.

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