Monthly Archives: June 2016

ontainer Garden Design

Creating container garden designs just requires you to be a little creative and think out of the box. Here are some guidelines on coming up with a design that suits your personal taste.

Container gardening is a boon for those who do not have a sprawling landscape to fulfill their desire for gardening and greenery in their homes. You don’t have to give up on your green thumb simply because of the lack of space to pursue it. Growing plants in small containers gives you enough space to create a small garden in your patio, thereby giving you a little bit of both worlds. What’s more, with the variety of plants, along with the different types of containers that can be used to grow them, have led to the emergence of unique and creative designs for gardens. Here, we give you some tips on container gardening, that will help you express your love for nature in your personal style.

Tips

Creating a unique and interesting container garden design requires the use of certain tips and tricks. If you want to create an attractive garden, the thumb rule is to break through traditional barriers and norms of design and get as creative as possible. Also remember, the success and the beauty of the plants in your garden largely depends on the kind of lighting that they require and that they are exposed to. Keep in mind all these details before you set about designing a beautiful garden yourself.

Containers
The type of container you use makes a whole lot of a difference to your garden. Not every pot has to be the regular round, terracotta pot. Go for different colors and get creative. You can also opt for a variety of different materials including ceramic and stainless steel pots. Finally, go for pots of different heights to create interesting level differences that add to the aesthetic appeal of your garden. You could also hang your pots, which adds a whole new dimension to the visual appeal of the garden.

Plants
Depending on the kinds of plants you wish to grow, there are different ways in which they can be used to create an interesting container garden.

  • If you want to create gardens with flowers, you can opt for flowers of the same color, or different shades of one base color. It could be blue and purple, or pink, red and purple. On the other hand, you could choose a completely contrasting color scheme, such as pink and blue, to alter the design of your garden.
  • Make sure that the color of your plants and pots do not clash with each other. You must ensure that the pots and the flowers make a good combination on their own. Similar is the case with creating a vegetable container garden.
  • Choosing different shades of greens, along with various textures, also adds to the beauty of a garden. Do remember that the texture of a pot combined with the texture of a plant can make an outstanding design effect.
  • Plant varieties also help in adding to the beauty of a garden. Ideally, a container garden should have a combination of these 4 types, namely, thrillers, fillers, accents, and spillers. Thrillers mainly add height to your garden, as they are a variety of upright plants. Use these where you would like to create an illusion of height. Fillers, on the other hand, provide the effect of a rich, lush garden. Accents are meant to highlight your garden, so a dash of burgundy leaves among greens is what will create that extravagant factor. Spillers refer to plants that spill out and over the pot, into another pot. These also give the illusion of a rich lush garden. Create a combination of these as another option for a focal point in your garden.

Placement
Not all plants have to be kept together. Create clusters of plants that are similar in sunlight and water requirements, as well as those that create a focal point together. Decide on a suitable location for your plants. You could make the cluster of pots of different heights, textures, and colors, a focal point, and then have a few containers strewn here and there. Creating a pathway by placing plants along the edge of a path is another way of adding interest to an otherwise regular garden.

Accessories
Whether you need container gardening designs for your patio, a deck, or a garden, there is a lot you can do to accentuate it even further. Add to it accessories such as water features, unique landscape lighting, wind chimes, and other small figurines to complete your design.

How you create designs for your garden completely depends on your idea of what beauty is. You know that the effect of greenery and the brightness provided by certain plants is definitely pleasing to the senses. Use it in a manner that heightens this sensitivity, so that not only do you have something that soothes your eyes, but also has the ability to relax your mind after a stressful day.

Growing Tomatoes in Pots and Containers

The idea of growing tomatoes is not limited to gardens or large plots. Tomatoes can be grown easily in pots as a part of container gardening. Growing them in containers can be rewarding, provided you select the right container, potting soil, tomato variety, location and supply the plant with necessary nutrients.

Even if you live in the heart of a city and don’t own a large plot, you can still enjoy garden-fresh, juicy tomatoes. The key factor is that you should have a sunny patio or balcony, so as to expose the tomato plants to maximum sunlight. Of course, careful planning is required while purchasing the container, selecting the tomato variety and taking care of the tomato plants. Let’s discuss in brief the tips of growing tomatoes in pots and containers.

Selecting the Right Container

Tomatoes are dicots and have a deep root system. So the containers opted for tomato plantation should be deep (five gallons or more), plastic or fiberglass pots. It’ll provide sufficient room for development of roots, making it easy to maintain a healthy root system. A well-established root system is very essential for healthy growth of a plant. Other than flowering pots, you can make use of any large container like buckets, cooking pots or other unused cookware (make a bottom hole to the pots).

Choosing Tomato Variety

This is the most crucial step for growing tomatoes in pots. Some tomato varieties are large and spread out to a great extent. You might be already aware about using stakes and supports while growing them in gardens or greenhouses. For planting them in pots and containers, it is always advisable to select the dwarf and bushy variety of tomatoes. With such cultivars, the plants are easy to maintain in a manageable size.

If options are available, choose disease-resistant and indeterminate tomato seedlings. Indeterminate variety produces fruit steadily, whereas determinate variety bears maximum fruits at the same time.

Preparing Potting Soil

Tomatoes can grow well in any good quality, organic soil. You can purchase ready-made soil or prepare it on your own by adding peat moss and farmyard compost. If you are preparing potting mixture, then supplement with plant nutrients. Remember that the plants directly depend on the potting soil for water and nutrients. Garden soils are usually not preferable as they are very heavy for container gardening.
Make sure you add healthy soil mixture, otherwise there can be chances of soil-borne fungi and other pathogens in the potting soil, which may lead to development of diseases.

Planting Tomatoes

For planting tomatoes in pot you need to add the potting mixture in the container to about one-fourth of the depth. Place the plant in the center of the pot and add soil till it reaches the height of the stem, where the lowest leaf is developed. This way, you are allowing further development of roots from the stem to promote a healthy root system. Make sure that you keep the level of soil a few inches below the rim of the pot. While planting, lightly press or firm the top soil around the seed.

Caring Tips of Tomato Plants

Light and water are the two most important factors for maintaining the healthy growth of tomatoes in pots and containers. A healthy plant requires about five hours of daily light. You can place the potted tomato plants in any area, either balcony or windowsill, where the plants will get maximum sunlight. If possible, select a location which is less windy, as high-velocity wind may result in drying of the soil.
Once the potted tomato plants are placed in a proper location, water the plants thoroughly. Make sure to water the plants regularly and supplement the soil with organic fertilizers. For water retention and weed control, you can consider mulching with straw or bark mulch. Provide the tomato plants with supports like stakes or cages, when the first fruits appear.

Depending upon the tomato variety and the growing conditions, the plant will start bearing fruits within 6 – 8 weeks. Growing tomatoes is easy but adequate care should be taken as they are susceptible to diseases. Majority of the tomato plant diseases are caused due to soil-borne fungi. Hence, as long as the potting soil is disease-free, there are very less chances of diseases in tomato plants. In case of disease occurrence, you can discard the diseased parts as far as possible and use mild fungicides to prevent further spreading.

Container Gardening Plants

Container gardening refers to the practice of growing herbs and plants in containers, instead of in the ground. The practice is very popular across the globe, aiding the efforts made towards recycling plastic containers and chipped chinaware. It is pursued by many a green thumb for ornamental purposes as well.

Container gardening is best suited for regions where the soil is unsuitable for planting or cropping herbs and plants. The concept appeals immensely to the gardener in urban areas, where space available for plantation is limited. There are a number of herbs and flowering plants that thrive in container gardens, either developed in the balcony or porch, or within the kitchen window-box. This method allows the modern homeowner to use every empty container and to infuse the home with a new spark of green! A number of fruits and vegetables can be potted in used jars and chipped china, depending on the size of the container.

The practice has many advantages associated with it. Not only are the plants exposed to lesser risk of contracting soil-borne diseases, but the gardener is able to virtually eliminate the menace of weeds. It also allows the gardener to capitalize on mobility of the potted plants and to ensure optimum control over-exposure to moisture, temperature, and sunlight. The concept, however, is not a new one. It has been around for ages, with herbs and vegetables sprouting from kitchen boxes flaunting chipped tea cups and pots, plastic jam, butter and cheese containers, and even tin pots. Today, there are a number of innovative designs generated around the concept to accommodate automatic-irrigation systems.

Vegetables and Herbs Conducive to Container Gardening

The urban green thumb is now able to make the most of the space available and the flexibility in design that the containers offer. The garden involves the potting of plants according to the root system. This helps the gardener to experiment with the development of bonsai and special pot-bound and root-bound plant varieties. Not having garden space is no longer a constraint to grow vegetables like:

Tomatoes
Peppers
Green onions
Eggplant
Beans
Lettuce
Radishes
Parsley
Cucumber

The technique is also very helpful in growing herb-garden annuals, biennials, or perennials like:

Anise
Basil
Caraway
Chives
Fennel
Lovage
Thyme

It is essential to consider the implications of drainage, porosity, and weight when choosing the material. The width of the container mouth decides the plant variety that could be opted for, since a wider mouth would facilitate quicker evaporation, while a narrower one would retain water for a longer time. There are a number of dedicated resources, online as well as offline, that allow the green thumb to access containers made of glazed ceramic, resin, fiberglass, and metal. They also enable access to synthetic soil mixes composed of sawdust, peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.

The design and space available for the container garden largely depends on the kind of containers being used. While smaller containers are ideal for table tops, mantles, and window ledges, larger varieties adorn the yard. Container gardening offers the plants protection from pests and control-invasive plants. The containers are not only convenient to move around, but can also be displayed indoors. The effort could be theme-oriented or material-based . The home owner could choose a color, monochromatic or complimentary, or a size theme to merge with the existent indoor home décor. The choice of a material-based theme, plastic or ceramic, to infuse the porch with a touch of black-eyed susans or petunias is also popular today.

Indoor Greenhouses

An indoor greenhouse should be considered by people who have to face cold-weather and space related limitations/restrictions. These are easy to set up and maintain, the only condition being that places with availability of adequate sunlight need to be chosen. Perennial crops can grow well in this setup during winters.

How to Create an Indoor Greenhouse

The items required for building an indoor greenhouse can be purchased at nearby hardware stores. Materials required for setting up such a structure include the following: plastic utility shelves, fluorescent light tubes, shop lights, power strip, and light timer. These are used to provide enough light to the plants of greenhouse. Lighting is an important aspect of setting up an outdoor greenhouse.

  • The plastic shelves used for indoor greenhouses need to be arranged so that the plants receive enough light from the source.
  • The power strip should be attached to middle shelf by means of twist ties. The advantage of placing the power strip at the middle is that it becomes easy to connect cords which arise out of every shop light.
  • The light timer should then be plugged into the electrical outlet. Settings about the time duration for which lights are kept on during the entire period of 24 hours can be determined and implemented with a timer.
  • Shop lights have to be assembled with the help of hooks and hanging chains. These lights need to be suspended below the shelf so as to provide light to the other shelf which is present underneath. To illuminate the uppermost shelf, lights have to be suspended from the ceiling.
  • Lights need to be connected with power strip. The power strip should be turned on after connecting it with a timer.

Portable Greenhouses

Nowadays, there are many portable greenhouse kits available in the market. These mini indoor greenhouse kits help in creating a setting for plants to grow with ease in different seasons. The materials which come with these kits include panels of polycarbonate, carrying bags, greenhouse heaters, ground stakes, water hoses, and portholes meant for connecting electric cords. These greenhouses help plants survive harsh weather conditions and protect them from ultraviolet rays. Maintaining the desired levels of humidity and temperature is possible with these portable greenhouses. Proper ventilation can be provided, and one can also protect the plants from pests.

The greenhouse structure can be made as elaborate or simple as possible. It actually depends on how sophisticated and user-friendly you want your greenhouse to be. Portable structures are suitable for those who want to pursue the practice of indoor gardening as a hobby. For others, it is advisable to use permanent structures. Wood and metal is generally used for the purpose of making frames for greenhouses. Poly films and plastic is used in covering these frames. If one is looking to have a permanent structure, then the use of cement foundation should be considered. The other features which can be included in permanent structures are the auto-venting system (for temperature regulation) and integrated windows and doors.

The information in the article above should help in setting up a suitable structure for a small-scale operation. Temperate countries, unlike the tropical ones, are not gifted by nature in order to continue gardening/farming the entire year. It becomes necessary for gardening enthusiasts from cold countries to resort to means like greenhouses for the purpose of indoor gardening.