May 11, 2011

Written by David Green.

By JO ERBSKORN

It is Mother’s Day, and  what a beautiful day it turned out to be. The forecasters were calling for rain all week and instead it was sunny and perfect.

Have you noticed how full of blooms the magnolia trees are? Sharon and Larry Bruce have the most beautiful magnolia I have ever seen and it is really in spectacular bloom this year. Sharon said that when magnolias are loaded with blooms it means we will have lots of rain. Guess she got that right.

I’d like to talk about container gardening which can be used to plant vegetables or flowers. If you live in an apartment with a terrace and it gets even partial sun, fresh veggies are yours with a little work. If you live in a home that takes all the property space, container gardening may be for you. If you have a large garden and have certain vegetables that you use frequently, having a few containers of them on the patio may make your life easier.

To begin, choose what you want to grow. If you’re planting vegetables, usually plant one type per container. The exception is carrots and radishes, which may be planted together. Pick your container and potting soil to fill it. Your container should be as wide as the plant will get and at least half as deep as the plant will be at full height. These dimensions can be obtained on the plastic insert in the plant seedling or on the package of seeds.

When I buy potting soil I try to buy it with the fertilizer included. One company makes a moisture retaining soil that is wonderful if you are short on the time needed for watering. It is about the same price as buying them separately and less work all season. You will also need something to put in the bottom of the pot to increase drainage, such as rocks. About one inch is sufficient, and some people experiment with other things like styrofoam peanuts or anything small that is not biodegradable. Place the rocks in the bottom of the pot and fill the pot two thirds full of soil.

If you are planting tomatoes or peppers, place one seedling in the center of the pot and fill in and around it with soil, stopping within an inch of the top of the pot. Prior to putting your seedling in the pot use your fingers to break up the bottom of the root system; it helps the plant to spread it’s roots out. Water your plant thoroughly and place it in a sunny spot.

Other than watering occasionally and feeding if you opted for soil without fertilizer, you’re good to go. If you are planting a climbing flower or vegetable, think of something to use for a brace to climb on. I often use a tomato cage, and if using seeds like peas, plant them around the perimeter of the container letting them climb the tomato cage. I like to turn the cage upside down and bury the first ring in the soil for stability and twist the legs together at the top or bend them down for safety.

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