You live in an apartment, you don’t have a garden, or you’ve only got a small balcony or porch. All of this means that you can’t possibly grow a garden of your own, doesn’t it? Actually, no. If you’ve got even a small space that gets a little sun, you can have at least a small garden, if you use containers.
All right, a container garden, then. Which means you have to decide on your containers first. You might choose two or three quite large ones or however many would fit onto the available floor space of the balcony, or you could “terrace” a few smaller ones in steps, to use the vertical space as well as the horizontal.
If you do go the container route, what sorts of pots should you use? While it’s true that almost any sort of container can be made to serve, you should keep in mind that some of them have drawbacks and might take extra work to use. For example, cheap plastic containers will eventually deteriorate from exposure to the elements, especially the sun. You’ll need to replace them quite often. Terracotta pots are great, but since they are porous, they’ll dry out quickly, so the plants will require more watering.
Wooden pots can look rustic and decorative, but they’ll be susceptible to rot, and might not be usable for more than a season or two. Many of the chemicals used to treat wood might be harmful to your plants, so that won’t be of much help. Redwood and cedar, though, are fairly resistant to rot, so you can probably get away with using those materials for some time. You might also use a wooden pot to contain another pot, perhaps made of plastic, so you could keep the nice look of the wood while giving a plastic pot a little protection from sunlight and the weather.
But glazed ceramic pots, on the whole, will probably do the best job. However, if a pot of this material wasn’t originally designed to be used for planting, it might not have drainage holes in the bottom, so check for this. You may either have to drill some yourself, or buy pots that already have them. Many of those will come with a matching ceramic saucer, and be quite decorative.
You can use other things as containers, such as a teapot with a broken handle, or a salvaged watering can, and so on. You’ll need to see about drainage, and perhaps drill holes in the bottoms, or you might again use them as containers to hold plastic pots.
Remember also that some plants get too root-bound in smaller containers, and some (like carrots) need much deeper pots. So match your plants with the types of pots that will suit them best. Consider the amount of sunlight and surrounding temperatures as well: in hotter climates, containers of lighter colors work best to prevent too much heat absorption.
If you choose your containers well, you’ll be surprised how much you can grow. Even if you’ve only got a small growing space, you may manage to produce quite an extensive garden.
(Photo by Picasaweb user, Mary. Used under Creative Commons License Attribution 3.0 Unported)
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