With a container garden, you can grow cacti in cold zones, control the spread of lovely but invasive softscape and have a vegetable garden on your balcony.
This article is the second in a three part series on container gardening. If you’d like, you can read part one, Container Gardens; Portable Nature, first.
Do you have invasive plants? We planted some mint once, because we have bunnies and they enjoy it all summer long. But it’s so pervasive that we had to dig it all up. And you can rarely get all of it. It’s been seven years since we dug up that mint, and I’ll still find stray sprigs in the middle of my lawn, yards away from where they once grew. The bunnies still get fresh mint, though. I grow it in two large containers now, right next to the bunny hutch, and whenever there are children in my yard, you can be sure they’ll find their way to the mint so they can feed the bunnies.
How about succulents and cacti? Are you trying to be environmentally conscious and want to practice xeriscaping, but live in an area that simply won’t support it? Container gardens allow you to grow whatever you want no matter where you live. As a matter of fact, I happen to live in zone 5, which most certainly wouldn’t sustain any type of backyard xeriscape I might want to try my hand at. But I’ve already created my first container garden of the year, and it’s filled with nothing but succulents. Right now it’s doing a lovely job of functioning as the centerpiece on my dining room table. But soon I’ll be bringing it out to harden off, and by late spring, it will have found a summer home in my yard.
Expanding on the notion of climate and container gardens, another early springtime phenomenon that many of us experience is the desire for some color when it’s too soon to put any annuals in the ground. Yes, there are bulbs, but sometimes you want a bit more. Especially when you’re out browsing at your favorite nursery or home improvement store and they’ve gotten their first batch of annuals. It’s hard to resist taking a few of them home. And when you do, how can you deny the desire to put them outside? You don’t have to if you plant them in a container. Make it look just the way you want and set it outside during the days. Soon it’ll be warm enough that you can leave your colorful container(s) out most nights. Just keep an eye on the weather reports, and bring them in if the temperature might dip too low. Although you can’t plant your annuals in the ground yet, you’ll be able to have a few spots of beautiful spring color till you can.
You can also grow vegetables in a container garden. This comes in handy when you have limited space, or just aren’t up to tilling and caring for an entire vegetable garden. Even if the extent of your outdoor room is a balcony or small deck, a container or two of tomatoes or baby lettuce, perhaps intermingled with flowers, is the perfect way to have home-grown vegetables and some color for your outdoor space, regardless of its size. Maintenance is minimal for this type of container as well. Just a note. If you decide on a container of cherry tomatoes, don’t expect to be able to use them in your kitchen. As soon as ours ripen, anyone who spies one usually dines on it then and there.
Read the third article in this series, Container Gardens; It’s All About the Container.