When the desire to start a garden is strong, but your situation and space is limited, it’s time to think… ‘Container Garden’! Apartment living and rental homes eliminate (or limits) your ultimate choice for a traditional garden. But container gardening saves the day. You can simply plant your garden in pots and place them however you choose around your balcony, patio, window sill, or hang them from a plant hook. A few pots or planters can completely change your atmosphere.
If you are anything like me, you like to rearrange things from time to time. One of the great things about container gardening is that if you decide to switch things up, you simply move your planters around. If the lighting isn’t quite right or a storm is brewing…move the planters. As the sun shifts in the sky and the summer gets hotter, you may need to relocate your plants into the shade. You have the ability to adapt your environment to fit your situation.
The choices are only limited by your imagination, space, and (to an extent) location. To save space, you could consider vertical gardening and utilize usually unused wall space to hang planters. Or, you can allow vines to grow over the unused space. I’ve seen grape arbors and other vining plants used as a living screen. So, vertical gardening not only saves space but can also be functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Another benefit of container gardening is the ability to control all aspects of growth. Different plants have different requirements. For example, blueberries love acidic soil. Try to grow cabbage in the same soil and you’ll be disappointed as cabbage likes a more alkaline soil. With container gardening, you have full control of the individual types of soil, enabling you to provide the best environment for each plant.
Onto shopping! There are so many choices in shape, color, height, width, and material, that you could feel overwhelmed. But don’t be. Just get what you like. My only piece of advice here is to think of the end product when shopping for planters. Do you have dwarf plants or indeterminate plants? How big should the plant get by the end of the season? How deep are the roots expected to be for such a plant? For example, you may find a beautiful ceramic planter that holds 30 gallons of soil. Such a big planter would be great for an indeterminate tomato plant but would be a huge waste for a single lettuce plant. A simple Google search can tell you the amount of root space your plants will need.
Other considerations are how well the planters retain water, your ability to lift and/or move the planter (you could always put it on plant stands with casters to make things easier), and its location (will it be sitting in direct sunlight). Think of the many possibilities when you are making your choices.
In the spirit of transparency, maintaining a container garden does require a bit of work, but nothing too crazy. Since the plants are in containers, their space is limited. Limited space means limited water and nutrient availability. Plants growing in the ground that require more water or nutrients can reach for it in the ground; roots growing deeper and/or wider to get to what they need. Well, that possibility is limited with planters. Therefore, container gardens require more frequent watering and feeding. You will want to maintain a nice moist, not wet, soil. It will be up to you to maintain balance; not drowning or drying out the roots.
If a container garden sounds good to you, start your list of plants that you’d like to grow and begin your research. After you have an idea of the size of the containers that you need, start shopping, planting, and growing. Then, sit back and enjoy!