By utilizing containers, both large and small, it is possible to grow almost anything that you can grow directly in the ground. Patios, balconies, steps, and window sills are good locations as long as there is sufficient sunlight (about 6 to 8 hours worth), the only limit being the size and the weight of your containers.
Containers come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials and in fact, can be just about any thing that will hold soil, even old shoes and sneakers can be pressed into service as flower pots with admirable results. Materials can be wood, plastic, terra cotta, clay or metal. All containers do need drainage, so it is good advice to add one inch of coarse gravel on the bottom and have drain holes ideally one half inch from the bottom. Drainage can be severely hampered by placing the pot directly on a hard surface such as concrete so elevate the container an inch or two to insure proper water flow.
The size of the container will be determined by the plant selected. Common sense is the rule here; provide enough growing room for the plants and that what you cannot see, the roots. Generally speaking the larger the container, the better, but is there enough support under the plant to carry the weight? Consider if you will have to move the plant when you bring them in for the winter or, if you are a renter and want to take your plants with you?
The ideal planting medium should be fairly lightweight and drain well, but still retain moisture to keep the roots moist. Soilless mixtures, which are available at your garden center are ideal and have the added bonus of being free from soil borne diseases, weed seeds and nematoids.
However because these soilless mixtures drain well and will leech whatever nutrients originally present, fertilization will probably be necessary. Water soluble and time release fertilizers are recommended. Follow the directions for the fertilizer chosen, but do not exceed the recommended rate, because over fertilizing may burn and kill your plants.
Proper watering is extremely crucial since the containers have small volume and tend to dry out quickly, especially if they sit in the hot sun or in the wind all day. Plastic containers will normally require more frequent watering. Learn to check your plants daily and water as needed. Preferably use a watering can to avoid getting water on the plants leaves as this will encourage diseases. Water until the water starts to run out of the drain holes. A moisture tester, which can be bought at any garden center, is an invaluable tool in proper watering.
Be sure the drain holes are clear to prevent the soil mixture from becoming water logged and rotting the plant. Too much water can be as bad as too little water.
Dick Murray loves to write about growing fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables and has created an information packed web site web site dedicated to gardening basics and designed for families who care about their food supply..