There are few things I find more delightful and satisfying than a luscious garden. How about you? But the time and effort, not to mention the space required, can be daunting.
Yet you don’t need a huge piece of land to plant a spring garden to grow flowers or vegetables. You also can get away with doing almost no weeding of your garden, as well as escape long and arduous prep times required when you till the soil, check acidity, and cart around all the big tools. The easy way to garden is through container gardening.
As someone with more of a lazy thumb than a green one and as someone who doesn’t always know a weed from a carrot top or Queen Anne’s lace, I often abandoned the idea of a garden because I knew that as much time as I put into starting one, I frequently ran out of time and energy to tend it every day. The answer for me – as it may be for you – is container gardening where everything is done in one or more big pots.
With container gardening, you drastically reduce the enemies of a good flower or vegetable patch: weeds, pests, and drying out in the hot summer sun. In fact, you can get everything from quite simple to very elaborate watering systems for containers that make it almost impossible for you to kill your plants through dehydration – unless you try very, very hard.
Open up any seed catalog or go into any home and garden store and you will be amazed at the number of varieties of plants – both flowers and vegetables and now, increasingly, even some trees – cultivated exclusively for containers. Think strawberries and other fruits, as well as peppers, tomatoes (far more than just the cherry and grape tomatoes we’ve always had), and all types of herbs, plus just about every flower type you can imagine. Some of the best roses and carnations I have ever grown have come from container gardening; the same is true for begonias and portulaca and pansies and petunias.
You can also get extremely creative with containers, pressing into service far more than the usual material at the discount department store. I’ve bought fantastic pots – not usually the planting kind – and floor vases as well as milk cans dirt cheap at garage sales and flea markets, and then taken then home, cleaned and painted them, and turned them into my next garden patch. You can do the same. One of my neighbors, a plumber with a slightly odd sense of humor, produces a vibrant rose garden each year between an old-fashioned toilet and a claw foot bath tub he placed in his yard for container gardening. Folks in the next town over used the bed of an antique Ford truck for the same purpose, one year even growing pumpkins in there for a spirited harvest display.
Don’t assume you have to fill a gigantic container with soil, however. I often find it best with extremely large pots or such to create a platform within the big container in which I put the soil and the seeds or starter plants. This way, I don’t have a two-ton container garden.
And this brings us to another great point about gardening in containers: get something like a trolley or big yard wagon, and you can easily move your containers back and forth depending on the weather and where you want to create some color or bounty. For example, some of my containers have plants that can keep growing throughout the year. So, before winter strikes, I put them on a big cart and move them to a shelter where they can spend the cold months with just minimum care. Then in spring, out the containers come again, ready to start the blooming cycle anew.