Container gardening is hot. Many people don’t have the space, time, or gardening expertise to do conventional gardening. Even I grow some of my pepper and tomato plants in containers because it is a way of guaranteeing at least a partial crop.
Especially with all this rain we have been experiencing, taking the plants out of the soil and into a container with a soilless medium takes away many of the variables that make gardening difficult. No more damping off, or drowning plants, nematodes, root rots or endlessly improving poor soil. If done properly, container gardening is placing plants in a more perfect situation for growth.
First, use only clean new or sterilized containers. Used or dirty containers are a good source of diseases. Our world is a dirty disease-ridden environment. At least give your plants a clean start. Clean containers with a soap solution, then dip in a 10 percent Clorox solution. Also, make sure the drain holes are open to allow for drainage of excess water.
Next, never use regular garden soil or used soilless medium in a container. I know potting soil is expensive but not as expensive as new plants. You will need a light, porous, well-drained, sterile potting medium. Loosely fill the container to the brim without packing. Settling will ensure room to water at the top. If the container is extraordinarily deep and to save on the amount of soilless medium you use the bottom of the container may be partly filled with sterile, non-floating materials like sand or rock. However, the final depth of the soilless medium should be adequate for your plant’s root system – at least 1 foot deep for most plants.
Next, choose the right plants. For an ornamental mix, think vertical and weeping. Men, picture a well-balanced basketball team. Have a tall center, then intermediate forwards, and finally guards protecting the sides. Don’t only think flowers; foliage plants are texturally beautiful and herbs make a useful addition. For a container of vegetables, don’t crowd plants. Use a trellis where practical, and use dwarf or patio plants were possible.
Next, plant all plants the same depth they were in the nursery. Then, water in well from the top to settle the soil around the roots.
Finally, water frequently. If possible put all your containers on a cycle of your irrigation system so you don’t have to worry. After a heavy rain, I thought I could go a day without watering my tomatoes. However, when I got home from work they were wilted. Thank goodness tomatoes are tough. Ain’t nothing better than a homegrown tomato even if it is grown in a container.