On The Garden Path

Containers add creativity to yard or garden

| November 2005

Container gardening is ideal for gardeners who enjoy raising flowers and vegetables, but lack garden space. It is possible to grow lush flowers and productive vegetables in containers of different sizes, shapes and forms. In fact, plant containers placed on patios, decks, balconies, porches, windowsills or even inside under lights allow gxardeners with limited space to grow fruitful, attractive gardens.

One advantage of container gardening is that, in addition to yielding produce, the attractive foliage and colorful fruit of many vegetables have ornamental value. Creative gardeners can arrange plants to create a scene of vibrant colors, textures and blooms.

Another advantage is that containers can be moved easily, especially those with wheels, for monitoring light and shade, or during bad weather, or for storing purposes. Culinary herb planters should be placed in or near the kitchen. After the growing and harvesting seasons, containers can be moved out of sight in garages or basements.

Older gardeners especially appreciate the 'no bend' gardening that planters can provide. And children are intrigued with this type of gardening, where they can plant and watch the growth process, which makes this method a good way of introducing children to gardening.

It's important to select plants, media, site and watering methods according to environment, because extreme heat coupled with high, dry winds will quickly dry the relatively small root zone area of container plants. In this case, water-holding polymers, which absorb many times their weight in water and release it as plants need it, serve as a form of insurance against loss.

One of the concerns of container gardening is the type of planter to be used. Recycled tubs, buckets, kettles, traditional clay or plastic pots, whiskey barrels, hanging baskets, tires or wooden planters all serve as plant environments. Of course, the type of container should be determined by what is planted. For example, soil will dry out faster in clay pots, because water will evaporate through the sides. Plastic containers, which are lighter in weight, are more easily moved.

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