Below is a guide for container gardening for beginners. No matter where you live or what season it is, or what kind of plant you are trying to grow, container gardening offers a very good start for any type of plant.
Archaeologists have found evidence that man has grown plants’ in containers for thousands of years. Artifacts from the Egyptian times and the Roman times show that mankind used clay pots for gardening a variety of different horticulture.
Since there is much so versatility with container gardening it can be done anywhere. If you live in a high rise apartment building in a big city you can do container gardening on your balcony or on your back porch. If you live further north in a colder climate you can do container gardening inside on a window sill, table or porch that has access to the sun for a few hours a day.
Containers can always be used outside to grow your favorite plants’. They are perfect for vegetables because the growing season usually lasts from the beginning of Spring to somewhere in the Fall.
Pots for container gardening are many and varied. In this article I am going to concentrate on the ones mostly used to grow vegetables.
Peat Pots are an excellent choice for a container when you are growing a vegetable and you are starting from a seed. The biodegradable pots are perfect to start seeds in. Using a good quality potting soil, which I will go over in a while, is one of the most important parts of growing any type of plant.
It is very important to start seeds in a small container first because it is much easier to give the right amount of water. In a small pot with a limited amount of soil it will only hold so much water making over watering almost impossible. What this does are make the roots grow stronger so that once you transplant it into a bigger pot there is less shock to the plant. It also teaches the plant to grow fine, fibrous roots which are better at reaching out and grabbing nutrients from the soil.
Plastic Vegetable Pots
Plastic pots have been around since the 1950s and there the biggest asset is that they are inexpensive and lighter than other types of pots and durable to a certain degree.
The downside of plastic pots is that the plants’ roots can only grow so far and then they start circling around the container as they hunt out water and nutrients. As more and more of the circling roots travel around the outer perimeter of the container they pick up more radiant heat from the sun that passes through the container. Depending on how hot it gets where you live too much heat on the roots will cause the plants’ to die. One more thing is that they can get brittle with age and your plant will have to be re-potted.
Also known as ceramic pots or terra cotta pots. These are clay pots that have been fired in a kiln and can be either glazed or left unglazed. Clay pots have several advantages over regular plastic pots. They have thicker walls which leads to less heat transfer to the roots in summer and actually will help to insulate them in the wintertime because the porous walls allows them to breathe. They are heavier and that makes them less likely to blow over in high winds.
Since clay is porous it allows excess water to be wicked away from your roots in case you have over watered or it can be a detriment if you under water. Another advantage of clay pots is all the beautiful colors they come in.
One disadvantage of clay pots is that they can form a white crusty layer on the outside of the pot. This is caused by the mineral salts in the water wicking through to the outside of the pot. One more disadvantage is that clay pots can be broken fairly easily if you are not careful.
Fabric pots are relatively new to the potted plant market. They come in many different sizes and have been around for a few years now and have become the favorite pot for growing anything for several reasons.
-They provide a more favorable environment for your plants’ to grow in than similar size plastic or clay pots.
-Fabric pots offer better breath ability and excellent drainage than hard sided containers.
-Just by their nature they are considered a porous aeration container that releases heat better than solid sided pots do and will promote fibrous root growth.
– Fabric pots will air prune the roots, which means when the root grow outward and hit the side of the container they are naturally pruned by the air and the light. This leads to an improved root structure shooting out more feeder roots.
-This improves root structure and root mass that which allows them to take up more water and nutrients which means a healthier and more robust plant.
-The porous sides of a fabric pot offers oxygen to aerate the root zone from all sides and not just from the top and the lower temperatures helps build healthy microorganisms and rhizospheres.
Best potting soil for container gardening
There is really only two of types of potting mix one should consider for container gardening when you are just beginning.
If you are growing from seed than your potting mix should be a little bit different than if you already have plants’ growing. A good seed starting mix is excellent product to used to start off a plants’ life. A beginning seed houses the entire plant and can survive on its reservoir of food so it can naturally survive on its own without added nutrients. The way this happens is that it can turn its stored food into sugars which the seed uses to grow.
-Seed starting mixes usually have a finer texture than regular potting soil. They also contain perlite, coconut fiber and peat moss. This type of potting soil is designed to be used from when you first plant the seed to when it gets big enough to be put into a bigger pot.
-There are numerous types of potting soils available on the market as anyone who has been to the garden center at Home Depot or Lowes can attest to. Some are good and some are basically just dirt thrown into a bag.
-One type of potting soil I have run across is made by Espoma which is an organic potting mix used for all potted plants. It is an excellent potting mix that can be used in containers for indoors or outdoors growing uses. It is an all natural potting mix that contains earthworm castings and myco-tone, which is a blend that promotes root growth, increases water uptake and reduces drought and transplant shock.