Just because you have a small space, or a yard that’s all patio, doesn’t mean you can’t have a green thumb. The truth is you don’t need elaborate planter beds to achieve gardening success. All you need is a little space, a couple of containers, and plenty of sunshine. After that, you’re just a few steps away from enjoying delicious homegrown fruits and vegetables.
1. Choose your containers.
Half barrels make great planters and will add charm to your garden. You can find them for around $35 at home improvement stores. If you’re more concerned about cost and less concerned about aesthetics, buy plastic storage containers for around $10 and drill several holes in the bottom for drainage.
Don’t forget to check for a Home Depot Coupon Code before shopping for your container garden supplies.
2. Prep containers
If you’re growing on a deck, you may want to elevate containers so they don’t rot your wood – logs or bricks will do the trick. Make sure whatever you use to elevate does not block all drainage holes. It’s also wise to add a layer of small rocks to the bottom of planters so you don’t create a muddy mess every time you water.
3. Mix your soil
Soil feeds your plants so having the right soil mix is essential to their success. The pre-mixed soil cocktails can get expensive. Instead save money and mix your own. Look for a soil that’s on sale and doctor it up with manure (steer works great) and/or a time-release fertilizer.
4. Follow directions (sort of)
Most plants will come with some basic directions on the label, including spacing. You probably won’t have the luxury to space plants as much as the label says but it’s okay to crowd plants a little. One direction you don’t want to overlook is the amount of sun your vegetables will need. Most plants can survive a little crowding, but they don’t stand a chance without sunshine.
5. Water more frequently
Containers will dry out more quickly than plants in the ground so you will probably need to water often. It’s really about paying attention to your plants and checking soil moisture regularly. Overwatering can do damage, too, so it’s important to find the right balance. For example, you might water at least twice a week regularly, but daily during a heat wave.
6. Fertilize routinely.
Get on a fertilizing schedule. Containers will not retain fertilizer as long as plants in the ground. Find your sweet spot. Start with a fertilizer like Miracle-Gro every two weeks and adjust accordingly. While fertilizing can help produce healthy, productive plants, there is such thing as too much fertilizer. Signs of over-fertilization include browning or yellowing leaves, blackened roots, and stunted growth or plants that grow but stop producing flowers, fruits and vegetables.
7. Grow up, not out.
The key to container gardening is training your plants to grow up, since growing out typically isn’t an option. Tomato cages work great for more than just tomatoes – use them on zucchini, peppers and more to give your plants the support and guidance to grow up. You can also buy stakes and use gardening tape to create your own infrastructure.
Follow these tips and there’s no reason you can’t have a summer bounty that exceeds your neighbor’s fancy planter beds!
And in case you need further proof that container gardening can work, here are 10-foot tomato plants grown in $10 containers: