In yesterday’s post, we looked at rooftop agriculture, but what can you do if your roof is just not an option? This is where container gardening comes in. Planting in containers offers flexibility, ultimate control over soil composition and allows you to easily grow a variety of plants with different soil and watering needs, all in a small space. It’s a handy answer for those with small spaces, a tiny window box can support a healthy kitchen herb garden and with just a little bit of space, you could add peppers, tomatoes and other small plants to the mix. For those with yards, container gardening can be a terrific option for seasonal produce, or plants that need to come indoors during harsh winters.
Why are we suddenly focused on gardening when summer is almost over? It’s a perfect time to start a small garden with fall produce and ease into the process. And for those in milder climes, winter gardening is a special treat. Plus, if you get started now, kicking your spring garden into gear will be even easier!
Containers – The first thing you’ll need to start container gardening is a container. Whether you build raised boxes, or decide to plant in pots or tubs, make sure the materials you use are free of chemicals that can leach into your produce. If using wood, choose raw, natural wood, or wood products that are free from harmful chemicals. Ceramic and clay are good options, as are certain types of plastic (look for containers made from recycled materials). Make sure there are areas for drainage and that the containers are the right size for your space.
Dirt – Unless you’re going hydroponic, you’re going to need dirt. And if you don’t have a yard to dig it up from, you’re going to have to find another source for it. Though free dirt might seem a bargain, be careful unless you know exactly where that dirt came from – do you really want your veggies growing in soil that is full of gas and oil spills from a construction site? Find dirt with no pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers added. Consider adding your own organic soil amendments like compost or peat. Remember that container plants require much less in the realm of soil additives.
What to plant – if you’re new to gardening, tomatoes and herbs are terrific beginner plants. They’re easy to grow, easy to care for and produce delicious results quickly. Get brave and plant some organic heirloom tomatoes for an amazing taste experience. If you’re ready to branch out, look to lettuces, radishes, carrots and peppers or even sunflowers.
Where to garden – if you’re lacking a yard, but have even a small balcony or patio, you can have a successful container garden. A sunny windowsill or window boxes can support a very nice herb garden. Got a front step that gets some sun? Try some herbs or tomatoes on either side of your door. Container gardening requires thinking outside the box, but with a little creativity you’ll soon find all sorts of possible planting places.