Living in the city can provide a challenge for gardening at home, but I am here to tell you having a plentiful bounty throughout the summer on your front steps or balcony is possible! Here are some of my tips and tricks for successful container gardening…
- Think about how much sunlight your container garden area will get. Most veggies and herbs need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Herbs tolerant to partial shade include cilantro, dill, chives, marjoram and mint.
- When purchasing containers, plastic will retain water better than terra cotta, though terra cotta is prettier. Make sure pots are large enough to support the root system of what you are planting. Also make sure the pots have proper drainage holes – this means 2-3 holes and the pot should be elevated an inch or two by little feet.
- Do not use top soil or dirt directly from your garden! Use a high-quality potting medium as the plants will need all the nutrients from a potting soil.
- Fertilizing is a must for container gardens. Because you will be watering so often, nutrients are quickly depleted from the soil. Once every other week, apply a diluted water-soluble fertilizer. I like to use it in half-strength concentration.
- Water and water again! All containers, regardless of material, dry out quickly. To be safe, check pots daily. If the soil is dry at 1″ depth, they need to be watered. The best time is early morning as water on the leaves in the middle of the hot day will burn the leaves and watering at night can increase the chances of developing mildew. Placing a little mulch on top of the soil will help retain moisture.
- When choosing what to plant, look for high-yielding and dwarf varieties of vegetables and fruits. Remember that tall or sprawling vegetables have huge root systems and will only bear well if their roots have enough room. Be careful not to crowd herbs or veggies when planting or their growth will be stunted.