Extension Notes: Container gardening

2022-06-30 18:58:28 By : Ms. Amanda Zhan

Not everyone has acreage or land where they can just dig in the soil. As long as you have a sunny spot, whether it be a balcony or parking lot, if you can get sunlight, you can grow flowers or vegetables in containers. It isn’t difficult.   

Just about any container will do, but the smaller the container, you will be more of a slave to it. Unless you work from home, are a stay at home parent, or retired, small containers do not make any sense. Don’t use anything smaller than half of a bourbon barrel, 24 inches in diameter, if you are going to grow tomato plants. The more soil you can give that plant, relative to its size, the less water and maintenance you will have to do. 

You can grow anything in a container, but remember, the larger the plant the more challenging it is. Lettuce, radishes and plants that don’t grow tall, and don’t require a lot of water, are very easy to grow in containers. There is no denying, plants in containers depend on you for everything. Generally, watering is a daily chore and if you let plants dry out and become stressed, you will limit how much they can produce. 

Being in containers, plants don’t have access to the nutrients in natural soil, which is usually a potting soil or soil mix. You have the commitment of feeding or fertilizing on a regular basis.  Young people are very interested in horticulture right now. They usually live in apartments before owning a home, and that makes container gardening a perfect fit.   

Containers can be of any size or shape. Container gardens are elevated and do not contain native soil. Raised beds require much less watering than container gardening.  

One of the most popular questions at extension offices concerning container gardening is about blossom end rot, which is associated with tomatoes, and is technically a calcium deficiency. Blossom end rot is actually the lack of consistent watering, making it hard to grow a full-sized tomato in a container without running into issues. Plant breeders have gotten around that by developing container-bred varieties which are much shorter plants. Dwarf tomato plants get about two feet tall and need only about a third of the water that a full-size tomato plant requires. There are a multitude of varieties of other vegetables that are bred for container gardening.   

Contact the Carter County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service for more information on container gardening.  Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

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