Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Organic Container Gardening - No Garden? No Problem

If you want to try your hand at growing your own organic flowers and vegetables but have no garden, don't worry. Many people grow organic products successfully using a container. You can keep the container wherever is convenient or move it around if you need to.

A container describes any vessel which can hold soil. It might be natural, such as a clay or wooden container, or you can use an old wheelbarrow, plastic carton or bucket. As long as it is not going to fall to bits when watered, you can make use of it. It is important that your chosen container can drain because most plants dislike being over-watered. If the container does not have holes in it, you can make some with a drill or knitting needle, depending what the container is made out of. An inch or so of broken clay pots, gravel or pebbles in the bottom of the pot ensures good drainage, while a layer of leaf mold or ripped up paper on top of the clay or gravel can help to retain adequate moisture.

Living, organic soil is very important in organic container gardening. If you are using a garden, you can gradually add organic matter to the existing soil but if you plan to use a container, you need to begin with organic soil. You need organic soil, capable of holding water without drenching the plants' roots too much because there is no subsoil in the container. Adding peat moss to the organic soil is a good way to do that. You can grow organic products in peat moss by itself without adding soil if you prefer.

Depending on the size of your chosen container, you can grow whatever you like in it. As long as the pot is big enough, you can choose from herbs, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, lettuce and many other vegetables. Organic seeds and plants should be used for organic gardening to produce a true organic product, but as long as you don't plan to sell the product, it is up to you. It can be fun to experiment!

Pest control is much easier in organic container gardening than in regular gardening. You can see the whole plant and pick off bugs such as hookworms. You can bring it to a faucet to wash the leaves and stem when the plant is in a pot instead of in the garden. You probably won't see cutworms if you are using containers but you might find slugs. Simply sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the soil around your produce to get rid of them.

If aphids make a home on your plant, you can sort this problem out by buying a pack of ladybugs which will eat the aphids without destroying your produce.

Anyone can have a go at organic container gardening. It is easy and can be very satisfying to grow your own food. Organic food tastes so good too. If you can place your container in a sheltered area with natural light, it is possible to grow produce in it throughout the year.

Lee Dobbins writes for Backyard Garden and Patio where you can learn more about organic container gardening.

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