For countless reasons, from limited space or mobility to the local soil composition and length of growing season, container gardening can be an incredibly powerful tool if you wish to have a bodacious and diverse garden. We are going to walk through three of the core benefits of container gardening and how they can be used to create the exact growing conditions to accommodate your garden dreams.
These benefits become especially applicable where the green space is little-to-none, such as in apartments and large cities! Container gardening can be used for something as large as outdoor pots for planting fruit trees that may otherwise not thrive or even survive in your local soil or as small as a series of windowsill-dwelling potted herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and basil. With the right soil, container, and container gardening can offer most or even all of the benefits of a raised bed without the required construction or the relative permanence.
First, container gardening gives you the power to cater directly to a plant’s soil and nutrient needs without having to balance all the factors of remediating your native soil or building raised beds. The next core benefit is a vast one! Gardening in containers can help you get more out of your growing space, regardless of if that growing space is in a garden, on a concrete landing, in an empty lot, or in some found space inside an apartment. Finishing our list is the accessibility that container gardening provides to those with limited mobility.
1. Picky Plants!
Containers allow you to have various soil structures and to apply a specific combination of nutrients; therefore, you can accommodate for a more diverse selection of plants compared to what you can do with native soil. Exercising control over the soil structure and nutrients is one of your best tools for investing in your plant’s healthy growth and production. For example, if your native soil is alkaline, but you are looking to plant blueberry bushes that need acidic soil, then you can fill a suitable container with acidic soil while feeding an acidic nutrient blend to the plant. Through multiple seasons of carrot cultivation in the high clay content soil that we have in so much of the Pacific Northwest, our Director of Operations, Denise Beins learned that root vegetables like carrots and parsnips do best when given a looser soil structure.
Sunlight is another factor that you can have more control over with container gardening. As long as you have a way to transport them, plants grown in containers can be moved to follow the exact sun conditions needed as the seasons progress. Learning the right blend of soil, light, and nutrients for each plant you want to grow could prove overwhelming, so take care as to not to overburden yourself by trying to know each plant’s needs all at once! I recommend focussing on learning the needs of a couple or few plants per season. Pick your favorites, and after a few seasons you’ll have a proficient and well-rounded understanding for growing your ideal palette of plants. 🙂
2. Making the most of your garden space
Container Gardening Outdoors
Container gardening can help you get the most out of outdoor space! Added to the benefits of customizing your soil structure and nutrient mix, container gardening can make seemingly unusable land into a bountiful part of your garden! Areas that have been paved, laid with gravel or stones, or have low-growing ground cover or brush that could suffocate young seedlings can all become healthy growing space with an intentionally selected container, soil, and nutrient mix. Containers can also turn an apartment patio into a garden. You can even cultivate otherwise invasive plants, such as many varieties of bamboo and mint, without having that worry! Another fun idea includes companion planting mutually beneficial plants, or simply planting fun arrangements/combinations, such as a “Salsa Planter” with cilantro, perilla, hot peppers, and garlic chives.
Container Gardening Indoors
Indoor container gardening truly makes a night and day difference! For those without access to growing space otherwise, container gardening can be the difference of not being able to grow anything to being able to grow nearly any plant you’d like! Whether it’s sheer excitement to start cultivating your own garden or seeking access to whole fruits and vegetables, your local community is probably filled with testimonies of people experiencing the empowerment of having an indoor garden you can look to for inspiration. With GYOV, your online community will certainly have some sources of inspiration to share! Or maybe you have some container gardening experiences to share in the comments below? Please feel free to share that below and be a patron to some else’s garden motivation!
The most common examples of these include hanging gardens, windowsill gardens, and a seed starting station. Hanging gardens utilize a space to its fullest by efficiently utilizing the vertical space. Windowsill gardens bring the vivacious energy of the garden into your home, and their foliage can also help illuminate your home by reflecting sunlight into the space. A seed starting station can range from simple or elaborate; from a warming mat and a grow light on a side table to a wire rack arranged with warming mats, a grow light, air circulation, and a drip tray below to protect floors when watering.
3. Accessibility for gardeners with limited mobility
It is a common challenge for a gardener to come to a time in their life where they may have physical limitations from the methods they have used to garden. Whether it’s temporary from an injury or their body physically losing mobility with age, For those with limited mobility, there are many solutions for enjoying fresh veggies using container gardening!
One method is utilizing large, tall containers, measuring 2-4 feet off the ground, although these may require assistance to get started. These may be wood framed, large plastic or materials such as terra cotta (a couple options are showing below). One thing to consider is you may want these large containers to have wheels so they are mobile incase you can move according to the sun or for other reasons.
Another option is to incorporate some of the indoor gardening ideas mentioned above. You can grow lettuce, herbs and more in a windowsill and add fresh produce to your meals.
Using containers in your garden can expand possibilities for you so that you can achieve your garden dreams! There are lots of gardeners just like you (and us here at GYOV) who have found creative ways to enhance their harvest and enjoy the beauty that cultivating plants brings into your life!
Please share in the comments below ways that you’ve added ease into your gardening process with container gardening.