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February 26, 2024

GGGL: Container Gardening for the Space Challenged

By Writer Gypsy

Do you dream of having your own garden? Do you live in a place that makes a traditional garden in the backyard impossible? If so, don't let that stop you. No, don't go stealth gardening in someone else's yard. Instead, start a container garden.

A what? A container garden. This is exactly what it sounds like. It's a garden in which you grow the plants of your choice in various containers in your home -- even if that home is an apartment. Sound strange? Maybe. But it is both possible and economical.

Okay, so how do you get started? I could say at the beginning, but that would be impolite. Instead, I suggest you first decide what types of plants you would like to grow. It can be flowers, vegetables or bonsai trees. It's up to you. I will focus on growing vegetables because I am familiar with this type of container garden and because such a garden has the double benefit of providing you with fresh produce.

For my garden, I decided to grow only four types of plants. Tomatoes, hot peppers, onions and potatoes. These are the vegetables most eaten at my house, so it made sense to start with them. That, and they are all relatively easy to grow, even for someone new to gardening.

The first thing I had to do was select my containers and soil. For the tomatoes and peppers, I selected medium size flower pots. These are about ten inches deep and twelve inches or more in diameter. The soil I chose was recommended for vegetable gardening. I mixed it with regular topsoil. For the onions and potatoes, I used the same soil, but the containers were quite different. Since both plants produce their fruit underground, I needed deep containers. For the potatoes I selected a planter that resembled a wood barrel cut in half. It was about two feet deep and two feet across. Keep in mind that you do not have to keep the containers inside. If you have a patio or balcony, they can stay outside. For the onions, I selected a smaller version of the planter I used for the potatoes.

Once I got my containers and soil home, I found each container a home where it could stay for the duration. If you keep the plants indoors, remember to put them on the tile or linoleum, or to adequately protect your carpet from moisture and staining. I had a back patio which was rarely used, and commandeered it for my garden. After placing each container, I began by filling them with the potting soil and topsoil mixture. You can purchase both types of soil from most home improvement store garden centers.

I read the directions with regard to how to prepare the soil for planting. Then I watered each as yet plantless container and let the soil settle. Next, I purchased my plants. I simply went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of green onions, a sack of red potatoes, a package of tomatoes and a few of my preferred hot peppers. Each of these I took home. I put four potatoes in the pantry in a container with water covering the bottom. The onions, I cut off most of the green (chopped and froze it for later use), then put in a glass with water. The tomatoes and peppers, I seeded and planted the seeds in a layer of soil spread in a cardboard box like cases of soda come shrink wrapped in. Over the course of a week or two, I kept an eye on my plants. When my potatoes sprouted eyes and stringy roots, I planted them about six inches into the soil of their container and watered them well. The onions I handled in a similar fashion, except I left about an inch of the tops exposed. For the tomatoes and peppers, I waited for my seedlings to reach two inches tall before transplanting them into their containers.

My garden was started. Now, get yours started. Then all you have to do is let it grow, make sure the plants get plenty of water and light, and wait for fresh ripe tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and onions, or flowers or whatever you chose to start with.

Happy gardening!

Article © Writer Gypsy. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-10-30
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