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The Art and Science of Container Gardening – Part 2

The Art and Science of Container Gardening – Part 2 4/26/19Last week’s column focused on the container and the growing medium for container gardening.  Now let’s turn our attention to watering, fertilizing and pest control in container gardening.

Watering regimens and fertilizer additions are of crucial importance when we are gardening in containers.  Watering will be required on a more frequent basis than if that same plant was growing in the ground.  In fact daily watering is recommended if the containers are outside.

As for fertilizing, increased frequencies are needed to keep the plant vigorous, and capable of producing its fruit or vegetable.  More frequent and lighter fertilizations will do the job better than heavier fertilizations spread out through time. Start out with 50 percent less than the recommended amounts and adjust either more of less from there.

A big advantage of container gardening is the virtual elimination of weed competition. The medium used has been pasteurized, making it free of weed seed, and initially free of disease organisms and insect problems. If an unwanted insect or disease gets started on your containerized plant, control and elimination is much easier than with in-ground plants.

Vegetables in containers need as much direct sunlight as they can possibly get to be productive. This might require the gardener to move containers to adjust to the seasonal locations of the sun; this is important for container gardeners to remember.

Vegetables typically are grown in dark poly 3- or 5-gallon containers that have at least three holes in their base. Keep in mind that dark colors will absorb the sunlight, raising the internal soil/root zone temperatures to near lethal levels, causing some root injury. This would cause the vegetable plant to be held back or reduce its productive capacity. If possible, on the hottest days with the most direct sunlight, move containers to a dappled shade area or construct a temporary screen around the container to intercept the sun's direct rays.

Expect the produce from container gardening to be mature earlier and of higher quality. In most cases, produce production also is higher per plant, compared with the same plants in the conventional garden. Because of their mobility, expect plants in container gardens to be able to bear longer into the fall as well.

Source: The Art and Science of Container Gardening, Ron Smith, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Extension Horticulture and Turfgrass https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/health-and-nutrition/eatsmart/eat-smart.-play-hard.-magazines-1/2012-esph-magazine/the-art-and-science-of-container-gardening

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/old-farm-tool-iron-garden-decor-782255/ (downloaded 4/30/19)


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