A Small Garden to Call Your Own

Container Gardens

You don't need a large amount of land to have a garden. Planting all your favorites in containers can give a beautiful array of flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs. If you have a balcony or a patio, using containers to make a garden is a great idea. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Choose containers large enough to prevent plants from getting root bound as they will dry out too fast.
  • Plants in pots can dry out quickly so check the soil about 2 inches below the surface to make sure they are getting enough water. It should be slightly moist.
  • Water daily in hot weather. Pour water into the pot until it runs out the drainage holes at the bottom.

  • If you go away for a period of time, place your plant containers on top of pebbles in shallow saucers and then fill the saucers with water and move to a shaded area.
  • Soil will dry out quicker in clay pots and plants in terra cotta pots need more watering than those in plastic pots.

Even the smallest patio or balcony can boast a crop of vegetables or a garden of flowers in containers. Planter boxes, wooden barrels, hanging baskets and large flowerpots are just some of the containers that can be used.

The container gardener is limited only by your imagination.

Planting Vegetables in Containers

You don't need a big garden to grow vegetables, they do very well in containers. Try lettuce, radishes, green onions, zucchini, tomatoes and bush or pole beans in containers. Food plants will need a maximum of 12 inches of soil to grow in, however those that have shallow roots will only need about 6 inches of soil. Herbs are well suited for planters in full sun. Plant mint, parsley, chives, oregano and basil for your own kitchen garden.

The secret for growing vegetables in pots is the growing medium. Use a 50:50 blend of screened compost with coconut fiber. If you don't have compost then use granular, organic fertilizer into a potting medium or apply liquid fertilizer throughout the season. Liquid seaweed boosts fruit and flower production while liquid fish fertilizer aids in the production of leafy greens. Feed them regularly and you will have a healthy and thriving garden.

How to Plant Containers

Make Your Own Mix for Containers

If you want to make your own perennial mix for containers or planters try this recipe:

In a wheelbarrow mix well:
1/3 screened topsoil
1/3 screend compost
1/3 aged horse manure

Add 10 percent of the above volume of perlite for drainage and aeration. Add one gallon of a balanced granular, organic fertilizer (5:2:4) (containing alfalfa meal, gypsum, rock phosphate, sul-po-mag, greensand, zeolite, kelp meal). Note: Don't use garden soil unless blended with organic matter as it will dry out too quickly and will also deprive the young plant roots of oxygen.

Gardening Magazines

7 Steps for a Successful Container Garden

Almost any plant can grow in containers provided you are willing to give them the love and attention they deserve.

Choose Your Containers Wisely
Plastic containers can deteriorate in the sun, terra cotta is stronger but tends to dry out rather fast. Glazed ceramic pots can be used, but remember to drill a hole in the bottom for drainage. Using larger pots are a good idea as you won’t have to water them as much.

Sterilize Your Containers
No matter what material you chose for your container make sure you clean it first. This is important if the container has been used before. Use an environmentally friendly all purpose cleaner and make sure they are well rinsed before planting.

Plan Before You Plant
Where you place the containers will depend on the type of flowers or vegetables you will be growing. Some plants need full sun while others prefer the shade. The nice part of container gardening is that you can move them if the plants need less or more sun. Also, plan how you are going to arrange the plants in the container. You will want to work from the middle of the container out towards the edge.

Fertilize, Fertilize, Fertilize
If you want big, beautiful flower then they need to be fed. Fertilizing every time you water is a great idea because you won’t forget. For vegetables make sure to use a manure tea as it is natural and won’t leave chemicals on your vegetables. Essentially manure tea is water extract from manure with soluble nutrients. It helps build the organic content of the soil. Check with your local garden store.

Rotate Your Crops
Planting different vegetables in the same containers will have the same effect that farmers have when they rotate their crops. Different plants need and use different nutrients which helps to keep the soil healthy. Just make sure you leave enough room for them to grow.

Water Regularly
Plants in containers will require more water than a regular garden. This is especially true during the hotter summer months. When you water, make sure the water comes out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. This will tell you that the plants have gotten enough water.

Choose the Best Potting Mix
Make sure you are using a potting mix and not garden soil. Garden soil is too heavy and won’t hold the moisture. You will need a more porous soil. Check for potting soil at your local garden center.

Following these tips will help insure that you get a beautiful and bountiful garden on your patio or balcony this summer.

Garden Composters

Having a composter in your garden is a wonderful way to improve the quality of your garden as well as getting rid of kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, plant and lawn clippings so they don’t end up in the land fill. If you think compost is dirty and difficult you might want to revisit the type and different styles of compost bins available.

The sealed garden compost bins are designed to keep out rodents and other small animals. Another benefit is in wet weather a sealed compost bin means you won’t have a heap of wet compost which would stop the microbes from functioning and just rot the material instead of turning it into wonder new plant feed.

There are many small garden composters available with some that can sit on a deck or in a courtyard.  Your budget and just how small your backyard is will determine what size composter is more suited to your needs.

Attracting Birds to Your Garden

One way to attract birds to your garden it offer them food and of course water. Depending on the size of your yard, you can add a pool or even an ornamental pedestal birdbath.

If you plan on having food for your birds make sure that it is in a location where other animals such as mice and squirrels can’t get to it. There are a number of seeds including sunflower seeds that birds like as well as some food such as corn.

In order to not scare the birds away, make sure you don’t have anything that is too noisy in the garden such as a windmill or whirligigs. Also if you have a dog or a cat you might want to make sure that there is time when they are not in the garden. Cats especially are good at catching birds and of course dogs will chase them.

There are certainly some species of trees and plants that don’t agree with birds so check with a local nursery to find out what those would be for your area.

Knowing what kind of birds are native to your area and what they might be attracted to is a good way to attract birds to your particular backyard or garden.

5 Steps for Creating a Beautiful Garden

There isn't any reason to have to spend a small fortune to create a beautiful garden. As a matter of fact, there are lots of ways to save money when it comes to gardening. Here are five tips to consider:

1. Make a Plan: The first step is to make a plan. For instance if you are planting a vegetable garden you will want to choose plants with different times for harvesting your vegetables so you don’t have everything ripening at the same time. This will also make your garden last longer.

2. Selecting Plants: Select perennials rather than annuals for your flowerbeds so that you will have the same plants flowering in your garden year after year. They will also multiply each year so your garden will fill in and have a more mature look.

3. Don’t Forget to Compost: Composting your kitchen scraps is good for the environment and really good for your garden. You can also add your coffee grounds and yard clippings. The end result is much better than any potting soil you can buy from a nursery or hardware store. This is definitely recycling and very inexpensive!

4. Using Mulch: You don't have to use mulch as you can try other materials such as pebbles or small rocks in your garden as ground cover. You can also find pebbles and small rocks on the beach if you live near water so you won't have to spend a lot of money.

5. Quality Lasts Longer: Purchasing better quality gardening tools will mean that you save more money in the long run. Better quality tools will last for years, saving you dollars because you don’t have to replace them every year. The same goes for gardening gloves, shoes and other gardening clothes.

Comments 10 comments

Ultimate Hubber profile image

Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

Some very useful tips for growing plants in pots. Well done!!!


True Blue Tips profile image

True Blue Tips 6 years ago Author

Thanks Ultimate Hubber. I appreciate your comments.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

I use a lot of containers here in my Florida garden because the soil is crappy, sand, sand and only sand. It's easier (and cheaper) to use compost in containers than to amend the soil in the entire yard at one time -- though I'm working on it. One problem -- water, water, water. Unless it rains, you're watering twice a day in the Florida heat.


True Blue Tips profile image

True Blue Tips 6 years ago Author

Thanks Immartin. Living in Vancouver we get rain, rain, rain. Trade you!


Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio

Great tips for container gardening.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Hey True Blue -- no thanks. Love the Florida sunshine! (And I'm from Alberta -- lots of sunshine but four seasons in one day. I'll stay here thanks.)


True Blue Tips profile image

True Blue Tips 6 years ago Author

Immartin, I don't blame you for wanting to stay in Florida. Glad I live in BC and don't have to put up with Alberta winters!


Seriously Flowers 6 years ago

Good tips. Perfect for people with limited space to garden.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thank you for this long list of useful and interesting tips!


True Blue Tips profile image

True Blue Tips 3 years ago Author

Thanks AliciaC. I appreciate you dropping by.

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