Thursday, August 2, 2007

Container Gardening

Even the smallest patio or porch 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 his imagination. Consider the following guidelines when choosing your container.

Avoid containers with narrow openings.

* Cheap plastic pots may deteriorate in UV sunlight and terracotta pots dry out rapidly. Glazed ceramic pots are excellent choices but require several drainage holes.

* Wooden containers are susceptible to rot. Redwood and cedar are relatively rot resistant and can be used without staining or painting. Avoid wood treated with creosote, penta or other toxic compounds since the vapors can damage the plants. One advantage of wooden containers is that they can be built to sizes and shapes that suit the location.

* Use containers between 15 and 120 quarts capacity. Small pots restrict the root area and dry out very quickly. The size and number of plants to be grown will determine the size of the container used. Deep rooted vegetables require deep pots.

* Make sure your pot has adequate drainage. Holes should be 1/2 inch across. Line the base of the pot with newspaper to prevent soil loss.

* In hot climates use light-colored containers to lessen heat absorption and discourage uneven root growth.

* Set containers on bricks or blocks to allow free drainage.

* Line hanging baskets with sphagnum moss for water retention. Keep baskets away from afternoon sun.

* If you choose clay pots, remember that clay is porous and water is lost from the sides of the container. Plants in clay pots should be monitored closely for loss of moisture.

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