Tuesday, March 10, 2009

6 Things about Container Gardens

Crocuses, daffodils, a pink aura on the trees...I don't care that its currently snowing like a snow globe outside - spring is almost here!! That means I am worried about having to start wearing spring clothes - damn my pale fat winter self!! - But it also means I am starting to think about what to plant in my porch garden. This is the perfect time to start seeds indoors. I'm also plotting how to make my urban apartment balcony into a beautiful summer space for sipping greyhounds and knitting.

6 things to think about when setting up a container garden:

--How much light does it get?
My balcony gets blazing full sun in the morning until around 2pm in the summer. I need to take into account plants that are going to like that such as lavender, poppies, daisys, beans, tomatoes. Another option would be to create a little shade for them with some kind of cloth canopy to shield certain plants from frying in the sun.

. How often can you water it? Are you never home? Maybe you could set up some kind of self-watering system. I've heard its best to water them at night after the heat of the day is gone so they can soak up all night. I also think it is a good idea to give them a little water in the morning too before the sun bakes the dirt completely dry. Keep in mind tho, that over-watering is one of the most common mistakes gardeners make, especially with container gardens. This is not as big of a problem in the dry heat of the summer as it is when it is humid.
---How to tell when to water or not. Just use common sense, look at the dirt and touch it. Is it dark black and slightly moist? Then the plant is fine, don't water it. Are the leaves of the plant wilt-y and droopy looking with the soil lighter in color and dry to the touch? Water it! Soak it if it is at that stage! If the leaves start turning yellow that is a sign you may be over watering.

--How much space do you have?
Do you want a lot of little pots? Or one or two larger ones? Would it look better to have a large circular one in the corner flanked by little round ones? Or would you prefer long narrow rectangular window boxes on the ground in a border around your space?

--Think about how you want it to be arranged.
I think it looks best to have a mixture of sizes, nothing too uniform. Keep the big ones in the back. Think of the principles of foreground, middleground, and background. The delicate little stuff in front, the mid range stuff in the middle, and the big show-case stuff in the back.

--Think vertical
. I have bars on my balcony, so I really try to think of climbing plants to cover them in an explosion of flowers and green. Tomatoes, morning glories, sweet peas, beans...etc. When ground space is limited, think UP.
I am thinking about using this idea, but I'm not sure how my property mgmt would feel about me drilling holes into the brick.

See how amazing it looks to have the green cascading down! I love it. I think this is a beautiful way to use up otherwise blank space. Painting the cans a vibrant color really adds to the interest. I think its a good idea to think of what color would look really good with bright greens and brick red. Blue is a great idea, it turns the cans themselves into something fun to look at. Imagine if they were black...(which I am a big fan of btw)...but that would look so misplaced. Like you were trying to hide the cans.

--What kind of plants do you want? Do you want a lot of flowers? Or are you trying to have a little veggie garden on your porch (which is do-able!)? Are you thinking about making an herb garden only? Or do you want a little mix of everything? Think about what kinds of plants you want before you go to the store! If you are anything like me, it is easy to get swept away in all the beauty and potential of the seedlings, and buy more than you have space for, or get overwhelmed and walk away with nothing. Its good to plan a little before hand.

Coming up :::
--Types of plants for your container garden
--Porch decoration ideas
--Cocktails to drink on your porch (or in your living room)

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