Container Gardening For Apartment Dwellers

Container gardening! Apartment dwellers don't give up your love of gardening! Have your vegetables and eat them, too. Grow your garden right outside your door.

There is no reason that people living in apartments should sacrifice their love of plants, blooming flowers, small shrubs, herbs, or even some vegetables.

These can all be grown in various containers on balconies or patios. If you are fortunate to have a large sliding glass door, all the better. Have your garden outside in the summer, then inside in the winter.

Start first with obtaining your containers. A frugal purchase of containers means more cash to purchase the variety of bulbs, plants and flowering bushes you want. Try first at garage/yard sales. You can find many of the plain black variety in different sizes. Look here, also, for the lovely baskets you could put the black containers into. Don't overlook the sales at Kmart, Target, HomeDepot, etc. You can also use old plastic buckets, as long as you "˜drill' multiple holes in the bottom for drainage. With all containers, you should place small rocks/pebbles in the bottom covering the drainage holes to avoid the soil from washing through. Remember, size of these containers depends on the type and size of plants you prefer. Never put a large plant in a small container.

Next step is to buy good potting soil. You can find this at most of the above mentioned stores, usually less expensive that at garden centers. A recommendation is "Proterra" from Target. A very good all-purpose mixture for both indoor and outdoor potting. $1.98 for 16 lbs. dry weight. This is also good soil for root aeration and moisture retention.

You most likely have in mind the type of plants you want for your container garden. But let's explore some alternatives:

Calla Lilies:

Bulbs - Beautiful and unusual green foliage that produces a gracious white bloom for a short time. The foliage is worth having. Cover or bring inside during hard freeze.



Hibiscus:

Bush - Purchase a small one and plant in 12"-14" container. Comes in a variety of colors. Blooms from late spring to late fall, hardy in most all climates. Cover or bring inside

during hard freeze.

Tomatoes:

Starter plants - Buy these at most garden centers in early spring. Many varieties from "˜cherry' to large "˜Beef Eaters'. One or two plants to a 12" container. Stake with an old brooom handle for sturdier growth as plant grows. Can produce from spring to late summer.

Green Peppers:

Starter plants - buy at most garden centers in early spring. Variety of pepper sizes. Nice Green foliage, easy to maintain. Spring thru summer.

Hot Red Peppers:

Starter plants - from garden centers. Beautiful and unusual decorative plant, but keep out of reach of children and pets. Easy to maintain, lasts years.

Herbs:

Starter plants from garden centers. Beautiful and aromatic. Mint grows profusely, plant only one for starter. Other herbs for cooking use: oregano, cilantro (Asian parsley), basil, sage, dill, rosemary. Plant in separate containers.

Strawberries:

Check plant catalogues. They sell plants as well as strawberry planters - plastic will be much lighter and easier to handle than clay/ceramic. If there are no "˜lips' on the side holes, cut a 3" diam. half-moon from plastic milk bottles, insert rounded part in bottom of opening at a downward slant. This keeps soil from washing out.

Most plants love sun and water, but can tolerate partial shade. In hot weather,you will need to water your plants in early a.m. and afternoons. Watch tomatoes and strawberries. In 95 - 100 deg. weather, they may need watering 3 times a day. Plant food is another good care for your plants. A good over-all is Schultz' (10-15-10) liquid that can be desolved in water and used every 2nd or 3rd day. Plant, water, and enjoy.

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