As the weather heats up, it’s time for gardeners — especially those with constrained spaces — to fill those pots and planters.

Experts and garden designers have a lot of advice to offer about making the most of container gardening. It’s great for small spaces, apartment/condo living, patios, and those with limited mobility as containers can be raised up, set on table tops or hung from ceilings. You can add your own flair and creativity, or purchase pre-planted containers if you’re not a DIY person.

You can mix together perennials, annual flowers, herbs, vegetables, ornamental grasses, and even small shrubs.

Containers are truly the option for all levels of gardeners, from beginner to advanced.

Container gardening materials

First, gather your supplies, i.e., planters of any kind, and potting soil mix. For growing larger vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.) use at least a 5-gallon container. Smaller vegetables (lettuce, herbs, radishes) can go in 1- to 3-gallon containers. The size ensures there’s enough root space and water-holding capacity. To add in climbing vines, place a trellis support when you plant.

With potting mixes, general guidelines suggest not reusing old soil because of potential disease, overwintered pests, and nutrient depletion. With daily watering, potted mixes do lose their nutrients. You may need to add minerals like phosphorus (great for tomatoes) or potassium (for flowers), depending on what gets potted.

I reuse soil because of the expense and reducing waste. I take out the old soil and mix it with some new compost or soil to reintroduce good microorganisms. I also add in earthworm casting fertilizer.

Plant selection can include transplants or directly growing from seed. I prefer combining food and flowers, which attracts pollinators and enhances your tastebuds. Consider vegetables for containers that are labeled dwarf or patio varieties, such as those recommended in PlantTalk. And mix in different herbs like parsley, basil or cilantro, or even tea-making options like chamomile.

The foundation of plant design for containers

Here’s the fun part. In selecting plant combinations, there are a few ways to approach design. There is the need to consider plants with similar water and sun needs as well as which ones make good companions for one other. The more creative flair with container gardening is based on dimension, shape and color.

The “thriller, filler, spiller” method typically uses three types of plants. It centers on a vertical placement, then filler around that, and finally adding in a spiller, something that flows over …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


A guide to creating beautiful vegetable and flower container gardens

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