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A Home For A Plant


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Container gardening. It’s quick and cheap to set up, easy to manage, and is an accessible form of gardening for many people. Not enough land? Container gardening! Live in the city and don’t have your own yard? Container gardening! Want fresh herbs readily available in your kitchen? Container gardening! Want to stay inside? Container gardening! (Please do get some sunshine from time to time!) Sometimes, new growers hastily jump into growing right away without prior research, and can make some mistakes that usually aren't talked about often. Container gardening, yes, it’s a container of some sort with some soil, water, and light, but not any container would do. So before you grab that bag of soil that you bought at a gardening center and that random container you found in your cupboards, make sure that your plants will feel happy indoors as they are outdoors. Here are some quick tips:



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Containers

First off, the material of your container. Plastic, something that is easily accessible can be used for gardening. Plastic? But isn’t that bad? You might think that, and you wouldn’t be wrong nor right. If you had anything with plastic, you may notice a recycle sign with a number inside it. This indicates what kind of plastic the container is made of. No one really tells you what these numbers mean, just stick to #2, #4, and #5. What about the other numbers like #1, #3, #6, and #7? Avoid them if you can! An example of one of these numbers like #6 is Styrofoam.



The Chasing Arrow symbols. Want to learn more about each plastic? Go to https://www.acmeplastics.com/content/your-guide-to-plastic-recycling-symbols/


If you are thinking of using something heavier, like terracotta and clay, be aware if you decide to move your plants outside during a hot day. These containers will easily heat up and dry up your plants! But let’s say you really want to use terracotta and clay. I would recommend having another pot with a drainage, and the terracotta and clay pot can catch the excess water. It’s a nice way to have colorful plants and a colorful container! (Tip: Remember companion planting? Don’t forget some plants will compete with each other! If one of your plants isn’t looking too good, consider rehabilitating to another pot)



Image by Suanpa from Pixabay


Speaking of drainage, make sure your container has one! Without one, you are practically drowning your plants when you water them! How many and how big should the holes be? If they’re small, like half an inch or smaller, multiple holes would do. Some containers have a singular one inch to an inch and a half hole, which can work as well. If you can’t remember if you had recently watered your plants or how much water was added, you can dip your fingers into the soil to test its moisture levels, or consider investing in a moisture meter if you don’t want to play in the dirt.



Photo by Kristine Lofgren


Soil

Plants need nutrients, no matter how you garden. Perhaps when you pass by the gardening center, you see all these bags of soil. So what works? For container gardening, your best bet is potting soil. You should also consider getting fertilizer for your plants. Some people also use compost as a nutrient source. I always have a separate container or pot for mixing the potting soil, compost, some fertilizer, and natural soil from the garden (If you use soil directly from your garden, you may run into pests that you don’t want).



Image by walkersalmanac from Pixabay


Moving In and Out

Is tis’ the season for moving your container plants inside or outside? Some plants like to be inside during colder weathers, while others can withstand the chills that winter has got to offer. Be sure that you know how to care for your plants including the need to trim, how much light is needed each day, and watering. Plants that naturally spread may not be able to spread in containers, while others shoot out runners and plant themselves in another nearby container if not maintained. Unlike plants grown directly into the soil outside, plants that move in and out of the house during certain seasons will need to slowly be exposed to their environment, which is why some garden centers that deliver your plants wait until the time is right. By suddenly moving your plant to a new environment without prior slow exposure, it may “shock” your plants, and it will appear ill or dead.




Tagging

I’ve made this mistake on multiple occasions when I plant something from seed. Is that little green sproutling my sunflower? Or was that my tomato? No, it’s my cucumbers. Or maybe it was my sunflower…as you can see, I struggle to identify my own plants that I grow in the past 1 to 2 days. The point is, it’s important to have some sort of indicator of the plant you’re growing, whether it’s a piece of paper sticking out of the soil, taped to the side, whatever helps you remember!



Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay


Those are the tips I have, and obviously, there are more helpful tips and ideas that aren’t listed here. If you have more, how about contributing to the blogs for LandHealth Institute? But for now, Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope everyone has a wonderful gardening journey in the next growing season!


References

Martin, Susan. “10 Container Gardening Mistakes to Avoid.” Proven Winners, www.provenwinners.com/learn/top-ten-lists/10-container-gardening-mistakes-avoid.

Vinje, E. “The Benefits of Container Gardening.” Planet Natural, CafeMedia, 21 May 2018, www.planetnatural.com/gardening-in-containers/.

Gibson, Anne. “The Benefits of Container Gardening.” The Micro Gardener, Avada, 8 May 2018, themicrogardener.com/the-benefits-of-container-gardening/.

Michaels, Kerry. “10 Container Garden Tips for Beginners.” The Spruce, Dotdash, 21 Jan. 2021, www.thespruce.com/ten-container-garden-tips-for-beginners-847854.

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