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Container Gardening

Plants growing in containers

Have you ever tried traditional gardening, only to have your garden fail year after year? Or maybe you don’t have the best space or enough time for a full-size garden? Container gardening could be just the solution you’re looking for.

Container gardening has a lot of benefits, including movability, less labor and easier weed and insect control.

If you think container or patio gardening is for you, there are a few key things to consider as you plan.

Use good potting soil, and make sure every container has good drainage. Containers need to be watered more often, as they dry out, so consider using pots with the water reservoirs on the bottom. Adding peat moss or vermiculite can help with watering needs, but you will still need to plan on watering once a day.

If you plan on taking a nice summer vacation, be sure to have someone lined up to do your watering each day while you’re gone. Traditional gardens can last a few days, but container gardens will quickly wilt in the hot sun without proper watering. If you are gone for a large part of the summer, planting spring and fall crops instead would ensure you have fresh produce during the times you are able to harvest.

Selecting the right size container is key for a successful patio garden. Plants, like tomatoes and peppers, need bigger pots, as well as a cage or stake to encourage growth. If you only want to work with small containers, then lettuce, spinach or herbs are your go-to. If you choose to grow something like cucumbers, place the container near something that can be used as a trellis. If sunlight is an issue, requiring you to move the container for optimal sunlight, remember not to make the pots too heavy. Terra cotta pots are nice, but are heavier than plastic.

Don’t be afraid to be creative. You can use traditional pots or upcycle existing items into beautiful container gardens. Old wash tubs, tires and kiddie swimming pools are all creative ways to use existing items to grow fresh produce.

Stacey Huffman, WVU Extension Agent – Mineral County