Gardening Green – Save Money by Container Gardening
Container gardening isn’t just for small spaces or small budgets, but it can be the perfect solution for both of these. If you’re looking for ways to save a little green and grow a little something green, consider how container gardens can help provide you with fresh food at low costs. The added benefit – minimal care compared to a full-size garden, and you can even sow container gardens on your apartment patio. Container gardens require little soil, are easy to maintain (saving you time and energy), and can produce hearty and fresh fruits and vegetables available at your home.
What Kind of Container Do I Need?
The size of container depends on the food you decide to grow, so read the back of the seed package or the tag on the established plant to make sure that you are selecting an appropriate size container. There are usually details listing the “mature” height and/or width of the plant. You also don’t have to invest in expensive clay pots in order to grow your container garden.[ws_ads_post position=”right”]
- Look for gently used pots at thrift stores and garage sales. If the finish is scratched and you want to improve the look, head to your local hardware store for spray paint that looks like stone and that inexpensive and weathered plastic pot can turn into a decorated treasure for less than $5.00.
- Consider unusual containers. Old washtubs, large tea kettles with the lids removed for herb gardens, and heavy duty wooden boxes make eclectic and functional container gardens.
- Check for drainage holes or create some yourself in your pot with a drill or hammer and nail. If your pot is extremely deep you can add shredded newspaper to the bottom to reduce the amount of dirt you need to add and enhance the draining.
- Ensure that your pot doesn’t blow over when out in the wind by placing a scoop of river rocks in the bottom. This will add weight and assist with the draining.
What Should I Plant in My Container Gardens?
If your container garden is really going to help save you money at the grocery store or farmer’s market, you need to make sure that you plant wisely.
- Only plant what you like to eat or will use. It might be fun to plant an entire pantry worth of herbs, but if you only use garlic and basil the rest will go to waste.
- Find ways to preserve what you plant in case you raise more than you need. Basil, garlic, and oregano are just a few of the things you can easily dry by hanging on the back of your door (and they will make your kitchen smell like an Italian restaurant). Peppers can be washed, sliced, and frozen for later use in soups and sauces.
- Check for the weather zones in your area to make sure you are spending money on plants that are intended to thrive in your area. Also be sure to cover container gardens when there are frost warnings in the spring and fall in cooler climates.
How Can I Make the Most Green from My Container Garden?
- Match your plant choice to your pot. If your plant likes hot weather, such as jalapenos, old wash tubs or metal buckets and deep, dark pots work well because they attract and absorb the heat from the sun.
- Read the seed packet labels or tags from the plant nursery for water care, and don’t hesitate to ask a professional at your local garden store for any tips on watering or light needs for you particular plant. Just be sure to explain that this is a container garden.
- Plant two crops in one pot, even in colder climates. You can begin late in winter indoors with cool weather crops like lettuce, and then move outdoors to tomato plants when you have harvested your greens (lettuce prefers cooler weather, while tomatoes thrive in the heat).
Container gardens are inexpensive and low-maintenance ways to help fill your refrigerator and pantry without spending a fortune. If you have room for multiple pots, consider planting enough ingredients for an entire meal – lettuce, tomatoes, basil, and snap peas are a perfect fresh summer afternoon lunch that will taste like it came from a gourmet kitchen – your own!