The Garden With The Small Footprint, But Big Results
Growing and tending a garden – it has always been very rewarding for me. I usually grow flowers, specifically, hibiscus given I live in warm, tropical Florida. I enjoy caring for them and watching the results. I few years back, my brother started a vegetable container garden – in Brooklyn, NY. He has a great apartment with his own private rooftop space. He would post pictures on social media and I was amazed. It got me interested in starting my own container garden and growing my own food.
Your plants do not mind which container they grow in. There are many choices on the market – terra cotta, ceramics, and even barrel containers. They come in neutral colors to very eye-popping colors. Choose what works best for you. The only criteria: it should have at least one hole at the base for the water to drain. A larger container will allow you to grow a greater variety in one space, which may save porch space (think of putting several herbs together in a pot versus small, single pots) or something smaller for better manageability.
Depending on your space and personality, the container is your choice. But choosing the right soil is a key to success. Container plants need soil that allows the roots to grow easily, fast draining, yet moisture retentive. Consider a good organic potting soil with compost. Compost is a great nutrient base for your plants to thrive. Part of the fun of container gardening is watching and taking care of your plants. Watch the moisture level and know your plants – do your plants need more water or do they like a drier environment?
I like a good organic fertilizer. I live in a small townhome community and while fish emulsion is great for plants, it may not be great for fostering good relationships with neighbors due to the initial smell. I did find some odorless lobster and kelp plant food from a company called Coast of Maine. It had good reviews and I liked the sustainability of the company working with the lobster industry. I used it according to the instructions and my plants have enjoyed it very much!
My back porch faces the West, which means it gets pretty warm and sunny back there in the afternoon. In the hot months of July and August, I move tender plants under the awning to avoid the intense heat. My hibiscus and palms, however, love it and thrive. A little research on your plants and which direction your container garden faces goes a long way.
Grow Something You Enjoy Eating or Looking At
One of my favorite things to make is salsa. Before I conquered growing tomatoes, I started growing my own jalapeños. It is true what people say – when you grow it yourself, it just tastes better. There is nothing better than making fresh salsa and picking the jalapeños straight from the plant. Jalapeños were a great starter plant for me and yielded a wonderful crop. This year, I decided to take on tomatillos and cherry tomatoes in addition to jalapeños and herbs. I even grow catnip – I clip and dry the leaves, crush them up to really activate the oil, and my cat loves it!
What do you enjoy eating? Bell peppers? Cucumbers? Tomatoes? Maybe it is flowers that attract birds and butterflies, sunflowers or roses. Whatever you choose, when the conditions are right, the possibilities are endless. Jump in and give it a try!