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There are several reasons why people choose to use container gardens. They may have limited garden space, or no garden at all, but a balcony or patio that is suitable for this type of gardening. The gardener may have limited mobility due to age or disability, and a container garden brings them the joy of gardening. Container gardens are manageable, allowing a person with limited time to let their green fingers be satisfied. For people who have had constant problems with their garden soil container gardens can be a welcome relief, and they can add attraction to otherwise dull areas. Those people who have a garden, but no plot for growing vegetables also feel rewarded.
There are several factors to be taken into account when assembling container gardens. The first is what sort of container you should use. Basically you can use anything be it plastic, wood or clay, providing it is large enough to support the vegetable or plant when it is fully grown, and that it has sufficient holes in the bottom to allow for good drainage. Allow 6 to 8 inches of depth so the roots can fully establish themselves. Material type is down to personal preference. Some prefer clay because it looks traditional, whereas others prefer the lightweight characteristics of plastic.
Garden soil is unsuitable for the container garden as it is too heavy and does not allow air to the roots. Because the roots need air, the soil needs to be lightweight. One option is to go and buy some packaged potting soil. Alternatively you could make up your own by combining 2 parts sandy loam soil with 1 part sphagnum peat moss and one part builder’s sand.
Because container gardens are made up of a relatively small volume of soil they need to be watered regularly, as they can dry out quickly. Do not let them stand in water though. A good method of preventing the top from drying out is by covering it with a layer of mulch. If you are in any doubt as to the dryness of the soil you can test it by digging your finger into it. Guidelines may have to be sought for how much to water specific plants and vegetables.
If you buy your soil pre-packed then it should have enough fertilizer for about 8 weeks. If you need to use fertilizer after this then use every 4 weeks and dilute to one quarter of the stated dose.
Many different vegetables can be grown in container gardens. Tomatoes work very well with Red Robin and Florida Petite being excellent varieties to use. Carrots and lettuce are good vegetables to grow as they take up little space. Peppers, like tomatoes bear fruit over time, so are another very good choice.
Take your first step into the world of container gardens and learn that they can be just as rewarding as their larger companions!