June 11, 2012

Container Gardening

Last year was my first attempt at container gardening, and I grew basil and lettuce.  This year I planned to only do herbs but the persuasive farmers at the Menomonee Falls farmers' market talked me into more and I'm happy they did.   

Gardening is satisfying because you can see growth in just a short amount of time.  My Swiss chard has exploded and makes me wonder if I planted too many for the container size.  Three weeks passed between the top photo and bottom photo below.

I attended a class on container gardening last month at Wendland Nursery, which covered some things I never knew, such as:
  • Place 2" of packing peanuts in the bottom of small containers (4" in larger pots) to facilitate drainage and prevent water build-up that could damage the roots of your plants.
  • Use a slow-release fertilizer (Osmocote was recommended) at the time of planting. 
  • Add a layer of mulch, after placing plants in the soil, to help keep the soil moist.
  • Water every day during warm weather, and water each plant until you see water come out the bottom of the planter.

The photos below show 4 weeks of growth on a container of herbs I made during the class.  We were advised to add 3 herbs to the 14" container.  I chose cilantro, parsley and basil.

Now that I have a full pot of herbs, I really need to start using them.  Here is some advice that was shared on how to clean herbs:
    • Select leaves with good color, nothing yellowed, wilted or with holes.
    • Place herbs in a deep bowl of cold water. Let them soak long enough for the dirt to settle to the bottom of the bowl.
    • Once the herbs are clean, spread them out on a towel. Blot the herbs gently before rolling them up in the towel.

Another tip mentioned during the class is to buy a watering can with a narrow opening which allows you to water the soil and avoid getting the leaves wet.  On hot days, water on leaves will burn and leave yellow spots.  I previously used the watering can on the left and have now switched to the one on the right.   

Does anyone have any other advice on container gardening?  I still have some empty containers, and would like to grow even more this summer!


  1. Peppers! Mint? Chives? : )

  2. Garlic chives that is, trying that this year too.

  3. I seriously bought every herb available at the Nature's Nook by my house. Basil is by far my favorite fresh herb. Dill too. This year I also bought curry, so we'll see how that tastes. Your post was interesting about learning to plant them and putting 3 to a pot. I put mine all in individual pots and this year I put the basil in a huge pot as I want a ton. We'll see if it works?!

    1. I did the same with basil last year, and it was wonderful. My pesto supply lasted through the winter!

  4. I'm so jealous. These plants look like beauties.

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