Container gardening is a popular option right now, for individuals who want to enjoy better health and nutrition. Container gardening also helps reduce food miles and water usage. People then can help out with those in need in their communities. But figuring out how to start the process can seem complicated if you don’t have experience. This guide will help you learn more about container gardening, how to expand your operation and what specific issues are common to this type of production, allowing you to take control of your food supply and build up your community.
Container gardening is defined as growing plants, either edible or decorative, in containers instead of directly in the ground. You can plant in virtually anything that can be enclosed. Some examples are barrels cut in half, buckets, planters, hanging baskets, tins, plastic containers, glass jars or any number of other vessels. It works very well for individuals and families with limited space or time to commit to the effort, but still want to give gardening a try.
Container gardening also works very well when you want to grow plants that aren’t suited to your soil. An example of this could be growing a cactus, which tends to prefer very sandy, well-drained soils, in heavy clay. Referred to in some circles as pot gardening, it can be used anywhere, with its best benefit for gardeners who are low on space. Used properly, it almost completely eliminates weed issues and soil-borne diseases. It also gives home gardeners more control over the amount of moisture used, the temperatures the plants are exposed to and how much sunlight they receive.
Furthermore, container gardening can also work well with hydroponics. Hydroponics is where you substitute the soil for an inert material such as coco coir or perlite. This practice also eliminates the possibility of soil-borne diseases; however, you’ll have to constantly monitor water and nutrient levels to keep plants healthy.
If you’re wondering how much production you can really get out of a container garden, it depends strongly on what kind of plants you want to grow and how much effort you want to put into the process. A container garden can be anything as simple as a bright windowsill with a few herb plants to add a dash of fresh flavor to your meals to a full cargo container outfitted with shelving, grow lights and ventilation to grow enough for a farmer’s market booth.
Generally speaking, plants that are the food, such as lettuce, beets, carrots and similar plants, will produce food more quickly and with less effort, but plants that produce fruit to be eaten, such as peas and tomatoes, will require more work and take longer, but will produce for significantly longer periods of time, reducing the amount of effort you’ll need to put in later in the season through replanting shorter-term food plants.
When you’re trying to figure out what kind of tools or equipment you may need to start a container garden, the answer can be as simple or complex as what you’re trying to accomplish. A simple 5-gallon bucket with a few holes made in the bottom will be enough for a tomato plant in a patio or balcony. But as you move indoors and add more plants, the process becomes a bit more complex. Let’s start by discussing planters for a few minutes.
If you’re reusing containers, such as buckets or barrels, make sure you’re using food-grade material that has only been used for food. You don’t want to go through all the effort of setting up a container garden to learn that the bucket you used contained a herbicide that’s killing your plants! If you’re reusing any kind of container, sanitize it to prevent diseases from spreading to your plants. This can be easily accomplished by spraying the surfaces with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which will evaporate off, or soaking the inside of the container with a 10% bleach solution for a few minutes, which is a standard greenhouse practice.
Do you want to grow more plants than your floor space permits? Consider adding hanging planters or shelves that allow you to create a wall of growth. If you’re working indoors, grow lights do a great job of providing your plants with the light they need. New LED versions may help keep your electric bill reasonable. Consider adding a few fans to keep the air moving a little bit if you’re growing a lot of plants in a small or confined area. Finally, it’s important to have trays underneath your planters to collect excess moisture and prevent stains on your floor.
Now let’s take a minute to talk about areas where container gardening requires special care. Because the roots do not spread out as much, plant nutrition is very important. To ensure that the plant continues receiving the nutrition it needs to flourish, be sure to fertilize. You can use a water soluble fertilizer as your irrigation or stock solution. The plant can also absorb nutrients through the leaves, so consider foliar application.
Be sure to water your plants regularly. However, like so many things in life, there can be too much of a good thing! Plants actually require a certain amount of air at the roots or they can suffocate. Any containers you use should have good drainage holes in the bottom. You should also use loose potting material or media for the plants to allow the water to drain. To properly plant in a container, make sure there are sufficient holes in the bottom for water to drain. Remember to add coarse material, such as pebbles, river rock, or even broken dishes or planter pieces to the bottom. By doing so, the soil will not clog the holes when you add it. After this point, you can add your planting media.
By having a solid grasp of the basics of container gardening, you can start a healthy, environmentally-friendly home garden. Container gardening is very friendly that limitations on your space are not a problem. Whether it’s just a sunny windowsill or a full cargo container completely tricked out, container gardening provides you with healthy supplemental food that allows you to find better balance in life and reconnect with nature on a personal level. At Fitleaf, you can find answers to your home gardening needs quickly and easily. Allow yourself to live your best life now.
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