Submitted photo. A raised flower bed.
From Grant Wood
Saskatchewan Perennial Society
Container gardening is not a new type of gardening, but it has become very popular in recent years. Plants, annuals, perennials, and vegetables can be grown in a variety of containers, including nursery pots, decorative pots, semi-barrels, garden planters, and even raised beds.
Take into account the purpose of your garden. Do you want a soup and salad garden where the goal is to harvest fresh vegetables without long-term storage or processing? Or do you want a food garden that produces as much food as possible to feed your family through the winter? Food gardens are usually large and mostly involve the storage and processing of vegetables. The third option is a combination that includes both types of gardening. Your choice will determine if containerized gardening is appropriate and how many / type of containers to use.
Container gardening offers many benefits, but there are also challenges.
• Containers allow you to start gardening on a small, manageable scale
• Convenience ; Vegetables and herbs near the kitchen are more likely to be used
• Depending on the design, containers can make gardening more physically accessible
• Can create an excellent growing environment; If containers are portable, they can be moved to an area of the yard that receives more light and warmth. They can be filled with high quality potting soil that is superior to garden soil. The use of garden soil is not recommended for containers as it can negatively affect drainage and ventilation around the roots
• Container media can be watered and fertilized more evenly, which leads to better vegetable quality
• If there is a risk of frost, you can bring plants into the house / garage and put them outside again in warmer weather, thus extending the growing season. You can also bring plants into the house for the winter – for example herbs and several ornamental flowers
• Can use areas of the yard including patio, patio, driveway, balcony, sidewalk, roof, etc. for food production
• Can control aggressive herbs, such as mint, and prevent them from spreading in your garden
• Weeding is usually less of a problem in containers than in a garden
• Can isolate all diseased plants; You can easily remove diseased plants so they don’t contaminate nearby plants
Submitted photo. Potted herbs.
• The entire root system is above the ground and is limited to the size of the container, so the plants need more frequent watering, probably daily as the plants get large. Plants die without water!
• The entire root system is exposed to sunlight / heat, so the containers are often hotter than when plants are growing in the ground; Plants in the cool season prefer a cool root system and may need to be double-potted
Almost any container will work, but should meet the following requirements:
• hold media; within reasonable limits, the larger the root area, the better
• Drainage is essential; Plants need moisture, but they also need air around their root systems. Excess water should drain through a hole in the bottom of the container
• The material of the container affects the moisture loss and the temperature; Clay pots look good, but they are heavy, dry quickly, and require more frequent watering. They also need to be handled carefully as they break easily.
• Light containers are easier to move; The load capacity is important for balconies, roofs and terraces
• longevity of the containers; Fiber pots have a lifespan of 2 or maybe 3 years, while wooden containers can last for many years
• Take into account the appearance of the container; Even if the container may be free or cheap, does it fit into the landscaping and will the neighbors agree?
• Adapt plant size to container size; larger plants like semi-determined tomatoes will need a larger container than smaller plants like spinach and lettuce
• Selected varieties recommended for container cultivation; Types specially selected for containers are often referred to as “patio”, “compact” or “bush”. They are often smaller plants and produce less, but you still harvest fresh vegetables
• Remember to do crop rotation to control disease and insects; Do not plant the same variety of vegetables in the same container more than every four years, and remove the media when plants become diseased.
Container gardening can be very rewarding, so give it a try!
Retired Faculty, Institute of Plant Sciences, U of S
This column is courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS; [email protected]). Visit our website saskperennial.ca) or our Facebook page (facebook.com/saskperennial). Since the end of the pandemic is hopefully in sight, we have reserved the Halle am Forsthof for our autumn plant exchange on September 12, 2021.