Container gardening has been a great solution for all ages and gardening levels. But if you are like me and tend to start a garden with every expectation to follow through “this time” but struggle with execution, then stick around for ways to scale back and start a container garden.
Let’s face it…you bring home a new houseplant, tray of cute baby veggie transplants or a packet of seeds with the idea you are gonna grow the things this time around.
Where the need for container gardening starts.
You can picture that moment of snipping off fresh herbs from the windowsill while making dinner and the amazing smell of those freshly harvested tomatoes stewing.
For a few weeks remembering to water or lovingly fluff the leaves to the little plants has us feeling pretty good. Even creating a few pat yourself on the back moments with a “you totally got this” congratulations as we round week 3 of keeping the plants alive.
We start with every good intention but are not always able to keep up the momentum. I get it. There are a million and two things that need to be done and scream for our attention and time. So let me share some tips to set yourself up for success from the beginning.
Reason #1 to start now: it’s easy to start a small container garden and grow in size
Starting a container garden is a simple way to add freshness whether you have a little porch, one window sill, an outside plot or a huge field. The catch is to be realistic. It’s all gonna seem easy in the beginning when spring is finally here and all you can do is imagine those little seeds sprouting as you tend to their every need. However, don’t bite off more than you can realistically handle.
My general rule of thumb is only plan for devoting 5-10 minutes of time to tending to your container garden at first. That time frame allows enough room for water, feed and care rotation, not everyday will need all 3 elements.
The reasoning behind that short time frame is that finding 5-10 minutes to involve the kids/husband to help water at the end of the work day or a neighbor to check on the garden in your absence is simple and less stressful. Therefore doable long term, setting you up for success from the start.
Remember you can always add more later once you have confidence more time can be devoted.
Need seeds that fit container garden small spaces but produce BIG time? Visit SeedsNow and check out their category on container friendly seeds!
Reason #2: No experience needed
The fun of container gardening comes from little to know experience needed, it’s small enough to get you confident (aka hooked) while keeping the learning curve gradual. Trust me, container plants are easy growers so you can master the fundamentals and a routine before adding in the more needy varieties.
Good beginner container plants are usually:
- Bush tomatoes
- Bush green beans
- Container herbs such as: thyme, mint, basil or cilantro
- Root crops like:carrots, beets or turnips
- Leafy greens such as: lettuce, spinach, salad mixes or greens
- Any seeds that are modified for containers
The list above are plants that start off easy, needing little care.Then gradually need more attention as they mature. By the time harvest comes (and it comes rather quickly) you have gotten into a routine and look forward to the daily check-in.
Needy container plants are:
- Vining plants like cucumbers, squash or melons. They need help with a trellis or cage for vines, and later on need a sling as fruit begins to grow. Also, watering becomes a daily, or even twice a day thing because the developing fruit takes so much water to develop.
- Herbs like: oregano, rosemary and lavender are MUCH easier to start from dividing a bigger plant than growing from seed. But are temperamental to water/sun conditions.
- Runner beans
- Vine tomatoes
- Broccoli or cauliflower- tend to get top heavy if the wrong size container is used.
- Zucchini or yellow squash- unless you get a variety bred for containers they can be somewhat overbearing for a small pot causing the fruit to spill over the sides.
These “needy” plants can certainly be grown in a container, but require more attention to learn the best methods to ensure a good harvest.
Experience level should not hold you back when it comes to planning a container garden. Instead, look at the time you have to spend on caring and learning so you can grow the best harvest for your goals.
Reason #3: Budget friendly
I’d say most gardens are started for one of two reasons: hobby or necessity. Perhaps a little of both? Whether you have a tight budget or a little cushion to work with, container gardening has small upfront investment, which also makes any failures along the way easier to accept.
Of course success is what we want, so to make sure you are getting off on the right foot, check out my post to learn about your growing zone. This will get your season off to the best start, find the post here: https://ashestoroots.com/garden-zone-basics-start-here-and-have-an-amazing-harvest/
Container gardens are made from 3 things: dirt, a container and seeds/transplants. Sometimes you will need to purchase all 3, other times you can exchange seeds with a friend or find some ways to recycle materials you have on hand into a container for your garden. There are a ton of ideas on Pinterest.
Some great ideas to look into include:
- Re-purposing plastic bottles into window herb gardens.
- Using worn out jeans as a large planter.
- Milk jug greenhouses
- Tin cans painted or covered with rope
If you have found a unique way to use an otherwise useless item, let me know! I love getting new ideas to use what we’ve got on hand for something new.
Reason #4: Kids are easily involved
If you have kids, grandkids or friends with kids, you will all enjoy a container garden. Especially if you stick to the 5-10 minute of care, kids can get involved with water, moving the plants for better sunlight, harvesting and awareness of growing their own healthy food. Life lessons to teach how we can always have an impact on our diet, cleaner air, learning to care for something else can all be part of your container garden.
I love seeing my little girl covered in dirt and having the BEST time of her life using a small watering can. One of my favorite pictures is with my daughter, no more than a year old, planting herbs and seeds. She stayed by my side and couldn’t get over how mommy was actually getting dirty on purpose! The puzzled look on her face cracked me up. So if you have kids or not, there are some great reasons to keep in mind that container gardens are for everyone.
Reason #5: Wildlife
Lastly, container gardens are a wonderful way to attract wildlife whether it’s a windowsill, porch or in the yard leading up to your house. From small animals to tiny insects, your garden will bring life up close and thank you by pollinating or eating the bad bugs. Not to mention who doesn’t love sipping coffee and seeing the bumbling bee pollinate the budding flowers on your bush beans, or the yellow buds on your tomatoes?! I know I love it!
So wrapping it all together, container gardening is for anyone, at any stage, with any budget. Don’t forget to look around for tips on how to care for your growing seedlings, unusual ways to find containers around your house or pest solutions to keep your garden, however big or small, on track for your needs.