Container Gardening: Fun Inexpensive Gardening Tips for Your Home

Do you long for a beautiful garden but are pressed for space? Do you find yourself missing the luscious and vibrant colors of your garden when the November blahs set in? Then it’s time to put together your own container garden!

Containing Your Garden
Most people think of flowerbeds in the ground when they think of a garden. But creating a garden, or many gardens, in a container is a great way to have a portable garden outside and in. This type of gardening makes for a more efficient use of space, which is great for people living in close quarters. Plus, since your garden is in containers, it is much easier to move your garden around. So bring your garden inside or move it to another area of your backyard for a fresh new look.

Finding a Container
Before you rush out and buy the prettiest container you can find, there are a few things you need to consider first. Since not all containers are created equal, you need to consider which will best suit your plans. One of the first things you should think about is where you plan to have your garden. Will it be outside all year or do you plan to move your garden inside when the first frost hits? If you plan to keep your garden outside, you may want to avoid clay and ceramic containers. Although they are some of the most attractive containers, they will crack in cold conditions.

Concrete and stone containers will hold up against any weather but aren’t easily portable. So, if you plan to move your garden around, then these may be out (unless you have a few strong hands to help you out). Plastic is a handy choice since it can withstand a variety of temperatures and is light enough to move around easily. However, invest in the heavy-duty plastic; cheaper plastic containers are more likely to break quickly. But you don’t have to stick with the tried and true when it comes to plant containers. Virtually anything can be used – wooden boxes, oil drums, barrels, even old shoes.

Container Tips
One thing all containers must have is an adequate drainage system. All garden containers should have holes in the bottom to allow water to escape. To aid your container’s drainage system, raise it an inch off the ground. If your containers are inside, make sure you place a plastic dish underneath to catch the excess water. Another small detail you should keep in mind is the size of the container’s opening. A narrow opening will make it difficult for you to have proper access to your plants, plus it will limit the amount of plants you can place in the container.

Remember to make sure that the container has enough room in it for the plant roots to grow properly. Also consider how far down the roots will grow. Plants with deep roots will need a deeper container. Finally, if you plan to keep your containers out in colder temperatures, it is a good idea to cover the container with some sort of insulating material, like burlap or an old blanket. Plants in containers tend to freeze faster than those that are planted in the ground, so insulation is necessary to keep your plants in good health.

Filling Your Containers
Once your containers are picked out, the next step is to start filling them. Some people like to do seasonal themes in their container gardens, like a winter theme. There are many lovely plants that can be used for this, including evergreens, ivy and holly. You may also want to stick in a few left over branches from your Christmas tree. Other good choices include pansies, primrose, Erica carnea and Erica darleyensis as these can also bloom in the winter. Placing plants of varying sizes in the same container can be especially beautiful – you’ll have your very own mini garden.

People who plan to move their gardens inside during the colder months can also plant some vegetables which can be harvested all through the winter. While they don’t need to be kept exceptionally warm, exposure to frost will ruin the vegetables. Some vegetables that do well in containers include swiss chard, broccoli, lettuce and brussell sprouts. Cabbage and kale are especially good choices since the color of the plant actually intensifies as the temperatures start to dip.

Taking Care
Before you fill your containers with soil and plants, lay some broken clay pot pieces to help the water drain out. Then put in a layer of soil followed by your plants and then some more soil. The soil should reach to about ¼ inch below the edge of the container. While it’s convenient to transplant soil from your already existing garden, if the ground has already frozen over or you just don’t have a garden, then pop down to your local home improvement store and pick up a bag.

While it is necessary to add some fertilizer to your soil in the summer, during the winter months it’s okay to forego the fertilizer. Since you only need to water your plants about once a week in the winter, the soil is better able to retain its nutrients. However, depending on the weather, some plants may need watering more frequently. Regularly check the soil to see if your plants need watering. If the soil is very dry, then get out the watering can. You’ll know your plants have had enough water when it starts to escape through the bottom.

People hoping for a winter container garden should get a start on it in the early fall. This gives your new plants time to grow and establish themselves, which will give them the best chance of survival during the winter. Although growing plants need lots of sunshine, mature plants are usually happy with however much or little sunshine they receive, which is good news for winter gardeners. In fact, plants that have colorful foliage, berries or bark are more than happy to be parked in partial or complete shade.

A container garden is an easy way to have the beauty of a garden all year long. Get started on yours today!