10 Tips to Start Your Container Garden

1. Choose a location

Make it some place that gets light most of the day and that’s somewhere convenient. This will make it easier to maintain and harvest from your garden.

2. Decide the size of your container garden

It’s tempting to try to grow too many things, especially when you’re just getting into gardening. Remember how much space you have for your plants, and how much time you want to devote to them.

3a. Water plants regularly

Containers dry out quickly. Plan on water most plants every day and twice a day if it gets really warm.

3b. Don’t water your plants too much

Don’t give the plants too much water. It’s a waste of water and the extra just runs all over the steps/balcony/wherever your garden is located. And, if you don’t follow tip four, you can drown your plants.

4. Provide good drainage

Make sure your container have drain holes in the bottom. The roots of your plants need air, too. If the water you give them (and the water that comes from rain) can’t drain, the roots can’t breath and your plants will get sickly and probably die.

5. Use good potting soil mix, not garden soil or dirt

Potting soil mix should be light and fluffy and hold moisture well. Garden soil or plain “dirt” is very dense and can keep air from getting to the roots of your plants. It also won’t hold water as well as a potting mix.

6. Select plants that will work in your location

When choosing your plants remember the length of your growing season and what temperatures you’re expecting. Different plants take longer to mature and some are more sensitive to temperature.

7. Use the right size containers

As a general rule, your containers should be as large as the plants you’re going to grow in them. Some plants (like lettuce) have shallow root systems and don’t need as deep a pot as, say, a pepper plant.

8. Plant something pretty

I suggest planting some flowers to give your garden more visual appeal. Since I’m mostly looking to grow things to eat, I like edible flowers like pansy (mild, minty flavor), Bachelor’s Button (spicy/sweet flavor), dianthus – (sweet clove flavor), nasturtium (spicy/peppery flavor) and Queen Anne’s Lace (mild carrot flavor).

9. Keep your container garden fresh (replace bad looking plants)

If a plant isn’t looking healthy get rid of it. It will keep your garden looking nice (which your neighbors will appreciate, as well) and free up space for something new, if it’s not too late in the season.

10. Keep good records

Get a notebook and record what you planted, when you started the seeds and how long it took for them to start growing, and when you first harvested. These records will be very handy next year when you’re wondering what to grow. You can see what did well and what didn’t. It’s also nice to have a good idea of when you’re plants are going to mature.

Ryan Henry grew up gardening with his parents but needed to find a new way to do it when he moved out on his own. He runs a web site [http://urbangardengrowing.com] with tips and information for people interested in container gardening.