Monadnock Grows Together: Container Gardening
Hello garden friends!
This year, one of my new adventures is growing in containers. In this photo (taken on June 1st), you can see a raised wooden container garden, full of lettuce, spinach, arugula, beans, and marigolds. In smaller pots resting on the back of the container are two houseplants I moved outside for the summer, and in the hanging baskets are strawberries.
You can grow almost anything in a container! There are some important things to consider, however, that are quite different than growing in-ground. First, consider the size of the plant you want to grow. A sprawling pumpkin vine that produces 50 pound fruits has very different needs than a dozen radishes. You can usually find this information on the seed packet or the plant tag if you’re purchasing transplants. There are also some varieties that are specially suited or bred to do well in containers – for example, the strawberries in this photo are the “Gasana” variety, and the plant tag specified “wonderful for containers or patios.” Dwarf and bush varieties of vegetables also often do well in containers.
The second thing to think about is the growing medium, or soil. Generally, top soil or soil that is dug up from the ground will not work well in containers. It tends to get compacted, and doesn’t drain well. For container growing, you can either purchase bags of potting soil at your local garden center, or you can try making your own. Different plants have different fertility needs, and there are sometimes plant-specific pre-made mixes available. In the containers in these pictures, we used the Foxfarm brand of potting soil, which we purchased at a local garden center.
The last thing I want to make sure to mention is watering and drainage. Make sure any container you use has holes in the bottom to allow for proper drainage – otherwise your plants might drown! This season I made the hilarious mistake of not thoroughly checking all of the new pots that I bought before planting, and discovered that some of the pots didn’t have drainage holes after a night of consistent rain filled them almost to the brim! Not to worry, my plants survived – I drilled some holes in the bottom of the containers, the water drained right out, and the problem was solved… but it sure was messier than it had to be! So, check first.
Additionally, especially as our weather gets warmer during the summer months, check your containers on a daily basis to make sure they’re not too dry. When it’s hot, the soil moisture evaporates from containers much more quickly than it does from the ground. Expect to have to water your container plants on a very regular basis during the summer. I’ll explore some passive watering techniques in a future blog post!
Please reach out with any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share about your own container gardening adventures – I’d love to hear from you!
Written by: Rachel Brice
Urban Ag & Gardens Coordinator