Saturday, June 15, 2013

More Container Gardening Tips

      Years ago I was doing a move out clean and the owners wanted everything gone.  I had to haul off some planter pots and trash.  It all came to my house but the pots stayed!  Today, I retired the tomatoes in the large flower pots in my yard.  I have learned a lot about container gardening over the years.  

     I have enjoyed the fruit of the vine and now, the remains are in the compost heap.  Tomorrow, I have to sweeten the soil and start again.  I have planted Mexican Petunias in the pots with the Tomatoes to confuse the eyes of the local yard guards.  I also under planted with some colorful coleus.  Now, that summer in Florida is in full swing with temperatures over 90 degrees, the coleus will also retire.
     I have also given the replanting of the pots some thought.  After I take out the petunias and turn the soil in the pots, I will top it off with a mix of topsoil and potting soil.  I will put back the petunias along the back of the pots up against the house and in a few days I will replant tomatoes and this time the under planting will be squash.  

Tips for getting more produce out of your container gardens:

Do not OVER fertilize your plants, especially tomatoes.  A slow release fertilizer will amend the nutrient deficient potting soils.

The old method of adding a layer of rock to the bottom to give good drainage is really not needed.  To keep the roots or soil from clogging the drainage holes, I like to put in a single rock and a piece of broken tile or crockery.  I really did save a saucer I dropped in the garden supply box until I needed it for the bottom of a pot.  

Set the pot in place in the sunniest location you can, vegetables need full sun, then, fill the pot with soil.  These things can weigh more than you can carry and dragging heavy pots across the carpet as you shake the plants, and spill dirt all over the carpet, not a fun cleanup !
Don't forget to protect the floor or carpet under your plants with a planter tray.  If you over water, the tray will catch the spill before it becomes a stain.  For small and medium pots, you can use a plate or bowl. 

Don't get attached to your plants.  They sprout, they fruit, they die.  Then, if not taken care of, they become a fire hazard! 

If plants seem to be getting 'leggy' or tall and spindly, cut them back.  

Choose plants that enjoy the same need for water.  You can plant shade loving plants on the 'dark side of a large planter, but you can't water one side of the pot more than another. 
Partial shade loving plants are herbs and greens and give good color when under planting, but resist the urge to crowd plants, they need room to spread their roots.

If your plants will need a trellis, some support or a tomato cage for support, plant it at the time you plant the container.  A tomato cage stake is very sharp and can cut your plant roots, other stakes can also damage roots as you press them in to the pot, so place the supports and let the roots grow around them.

Terra cotta pots are a fashion favorite and industry standard.  They also dry out quickly.  They are not the be all and end all of interior garden growing.  Plastic pots are lightweight, do the job and come in lots of colors.

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