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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Mar 18

Container Gardening

Posted on March 18, 2016 at 9:19 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

It's not too late to start planning your garden. Oft times the space we allotted for our garden is not adequate. Sometimes it is a matter of our fresh culinary needs being too far from the kitchen to easily access a snip of parsley or basil needed for a meal. If the growing conditions are favorable, you might consider setting seeds for those plants you cook with the most and planting them in containers set by the closest entry door to the kitchen.

Wheel Barrow container
Newly planted container garden—even old wheelbarrows make great containers!
Containers make it easy to accomplish this task. They come in a bevy of materials, colors, and sizes so it is imperative to think about what plants you are considering before selection. We can use clay or glazed pottery, wood, or plastic to enhance the mini garden. Consider the ultimate size of the mature plant before choosing a container. Herbs such as parsley or basil may only require a container diameter of 10 inches, whereas a "patio pick" tomato would be better suited for a large 16-inch pot.

Before planting, be certain there are drain holes in the bottom of the container. When ready to plant, add broken clay fragments or drain rock to prevent the rich combination of topsoil and compost from escaping at the bottom.

Container gardens do require a bit more maintenance than plants growing in the ground. They need more water as the air circulating around the containers will dry out the soil faster. Hydrozones are imperative with container planting also. If you are going to mix plants in one container, be certain that their sun and water requirements are the same for a successful outcome.

Also remember that vegetables are heavy feeders, and the soil in containers is limited for drawing on additional microorganisms. A monthly application of organic compost tea should sustain a healthy environment and keep production at an optimum. Lastly, place a layer of mulch around your plants to decrease the amount of evaporation from the soil.

Wimsical planting container
 Whimsical planting container
Once you get into container gardening, it is guaranteed you will be seeking out other nooks and crannies in the garden to enhance with other types of plants. The recipe for healthy plantings in containers works as well for accent color spots on decks, patios, and porches.

Enjoy the experience of expanding your garden with containers. It is amazing what fruit and vegetable crops can be attained by adding a few colorful pots in prime growing conditions.


Scott Stokes
March 18, 2016 at 2:23 PM
Congratulation! We knew you were destined for a larger audience. ????

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