Container Gardening for Beginners
Follow our handy guide and we’ll have you container gardening straight away!
Most people have always loved the idea of growing their own food as well as growing beautiful flowers and plants, but one of the main reasons that people don’t do it is due to the lack of space. When we think about growing plants, we instantly think of sprawling gardens with dedicated vegetable patches, flower beds and even allotments, but what about being able to do it on a smaller scale?
Container gardening may be the one for you if you don’t have a huge amount of space and you are starting out in your gardening hobby. Unlike raised beds, you don’t need a garden to create a container garden, even if you only have a patio or a balcony, you can still grow things! Follow our handy guide and we’ll have you container gardening straight away!
What Is Container Gardening?
Container gardening is where you grow plants in containers instead of planting them straight into the earth. There are many types of different containers available to you, and depending on the space you have there are endless opportunities for you to find the containers that match your needs. They can be small plant pots, metal trays to home-made pallet boxes! For more details on choosing a container, read this container gardening article.
The first thing to consider is the space you have available to you. If you have a sprawling balcony you may want to have a few larger pots than smaller ones. Or, if you have a small patio, a group of smaller pots may be the choice for you, especially if only certain areas get sunlight throughout the day. Chose containers based on your own space restrictions, but also be aware that it is harder to grow plants in smaller containers. Larger containers hold more soil and are able to resist rapid temperature changes.
It may not seem that important, but drainage is a big factor when choosing your container. You don’t want to pick one where there is little to no drainage. If you do have a container that doesn’t drain, you will find that water will become trapped in the bottom and cause your plant roots to rot.
Type of Container
As we said previously, there are many types of containers on the market, and depending on your situation, it will depend the type of container you can plant in. If you are living in an area where you get icy cold spells, it would be better to stay away from clay and terracotta. Whilst they are attractive, they will easily crack in the thaw. They are also quite heavy, so they may not be suitable for balcony living.
Wooden containers are lovely to look at, but they can rot. Instead of planting straight into wooden containers, keep your plants in the plastic containers they came in, which also makes them easier to move if you do need to!
You can purchase fiberglass pots. These types are a good choice if you want them to stay outside all year long, as they won’t break in the cold, and they can keep the plant temperature better balanced. If you live in a warm area, try and avoid dark colored pots, as this will heat up the plant and could cause it to die. In the end, container choice comes down to your circumstance, what you will be planting, and what you like!
Evaluate How Much Light Your Containers Will Get
It is really easy to overestimate how much light you think your containers will get, although it is difficult, try not to do this as it can result in your plants dying and you becoming disheartened. Try and underestimate if anything as this will then guide you on what type of plants you purchase!
Soil for Container Gardening
So, you’ve sorted out what size containers you are purchasing, you know how much light certain areas of your garden, patio or balcony will get, now you need to decide if you are growing plants, food, or both. If you are just growing plants, then any soil mix will be fine as long as there are nutrients available for your plant to digest. If you are growing herbs, fruits, or vegetables, look for a product that has miracle grow or nutrients suitable for these types of plants. You can also use compost here to help with the nutrient levels; coffee grounds make for excellent compost as do your leafy leftovers. Your ultimate goal is soil that’s rich in the nutrients your plants needs to thrive.
Finally, The Plants
Now we have come to the part you have been waiting for, time to choose your plants! We recommend making a list before you go, which may take more research than anticipated, but will stop you from haphazardly making a choice when you get to the garden shop or nursery.
Perennials will give you the best value for money because they will come back every year. In addition, they are more hardy than the annuals that die at the end of the growing season, so perennials is often a good place to start.
You can purchase both plants and food in the perennial variety, so you can choose from such things as primroses, daffodils to flowering kale and cabbage. It is probably wise to buy plants that have already started growing (also referred to as starts) instead of seeds, as it will help ensure that what you planted grows and thrives.
Don’t totally shy away from annuals though, they are really good at injecting some beautiful color and variety into your garden, patio or balcony. Be aware that as indicative of their name, annuals are a little more expensive, as you will need to replace them annually.
Container gardening doesn’t have to be complicated as long as you are realistic with yourself about the space you have available, the lighting conditions, and the time you want to give to it. Think about your environment and what will work best in your situation. Once you have put a list together of the types of containers you want, you’ve chosen the soil and made a list of the plants you are ready to give a new home to, you are off to the nursery! Don’t be panicked though if over time some of your new purchases do die off, it is a constant learning curve and it will take a while before you fully understand all the best options for your container garden.