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Try Container Gardening

Gardening has become very popular, but not everyone has a big backyard to grow a large garden or the time to tend it. If you are short on space, consider container gardening.

You can grow many different vegetables in pots on a balcony, doorstep or hanging basket, in barrels on a deck or in planters on your window sill. Some people even grow flowers and plants in unusual containers such as worn-out kitchen pots.

Here are some tips for planting in containers:

  • Be sure your container has drainage holes so extra water doesn’t pool at the bottom and damage the roots. If you want to grow tomatoes, peppers or eggplant, gardening experts usually recommend 5-gallon containers. Smaller pots work well for green onions, lettuce and herbs.
  • Add “potting mix,” not plain dirt from your yard. Your soil needs to drain well.
  • Choose seeds or plants. You can start your own seedlings in egg cartons or even an old cake pan. Fill the container with potting soil, add seeds and cover with about ½ inch of soil. Cover with a clear plastic bag, place in a warm, sunny area and water regularly. When the seedlings have four or more leaves, they are ready to transfer into the final pot.
  • Find a sunny spot for your container. If your plants aren’t doing well in the spot you chose, move the container to a better place.
  • Water often and fertilize according to the directions on the fertilizer container. Container gardens need to be watered more than regular gardens, ideally at least once every morning.
  • Add enough water on top of the soil so it begins to leak out the bottom.
  • Be sure to pull weeds regularly. Weeds compete for space, water, nutrients and sunlight.

Check out the “Gardening Delights for All: Nontraditional, Money-saving, Sustainable Gardening” from the NDSU Extension Service at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/hortcrop/h1600.pdf .


Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

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