There can be many reasons to choose to grow in containers rather than in the ground. It is a good option for those that are lacking space and access to land and garden area. Container growing can also be a good way to keep your plants going when at a temporary residence, or in transition from one residence to the next.
Whether you are living on a boat, on a top floor apartment with a bright sunny window or balcony, or downtown in the heart of the city, container gardening is a fine way to grow your own herbs and veggies. It is true that container gardening is a labour of love, so here are a few tips to help you do your best for your potted pleasures.
1) Use compost in your soil mix. Plants grown in containers do not have access to minerals and other nutrients naturally found in garden soil. It is very important to start with a nutrient rich soil mixture with lots of organic matter, such as finished compost. Conventional ‘potting mix’ is not nutrient rich on its own. Using a mix of one-half potting soil and one-half compost will give your plants a fine start. We would also recommend adding in a handful of organic fertilizer blend with kelp meal.
2) Repotting and/or fertilizing will be beneficial at least once a year. The nutrients and growing area available to plants grown in containers are not indefinite like plants that are grown in the ground. As a plant grows upward and outward its roots will also expand in bulk and become crowded. Dividing plants or repotting into a larger container in Fall or Spring will give the space and fresh nutrients that the roots need to flourish. A dose of liquid kelp extract, compost tea, or fish emulsion two or three times in a season will also greatly benefit your container plantings.
3) Don’t forget to water! As owners of a plant nursery business we know too well how rapidly plants in pots can dry out during the hot summer months. During the driest and warmest months of the year pots will often need to be watered daily. A bit of mulch on top and lots of organic matter in the mix can help hold in moisture.
4) Along the same lines as under watering, you can also over water potted plants. Especially if you use pots that do not have drainage holes in them. Using gravel or broken pottery shards in the bottom of the pots will not remedy the situation. Drainage holes are essential to soil and plant health, will prevent root rot and the build up of harmful salt residues.