Now let me preface this by saying I am NOT an expert on the subject of container gardening. I just happen to really be interested in it and becoming successful with it. I attempted gardening three years ago and was lucky enough to have a huge space in the backyard of the house we were living in to have a full-sized garden, and that proved to be much too overwhelming for a first time gardener. Now I’m kicking myself, because we live in a different place and only have a teeny deck to try and squeeze some pots onto. But, it ended up working out fine, because I got to know more about container gardening and how it can work just as well. Read on for how I started, and for some resources for beginning your container garden and growing your own local, healthy food!
Start your plants indoors
Last year was my first year of really trying to succeed with my container garden (also known as urban gardening). Some things worked out, and some didn’t. I really recommend researching what you choose to grow, see what containers are ideal (or if it’s ideal for container gardening at all) for the plant, and where it needs to be placed as far as sun goes. Some of you may be lucky enough to start your gardening very very early in the spring, or continue on throughout the winter. If you’re in a colder climate like I am, then you won’t be able to start your plants too early. We just planted our seeds last week in a Jiffy planter (you can also use egg cartons to create an easy seed starter) and keep them indoors until they are ready to be planted into a pot and left outside. The Jiffy products are great because they have the instructions on the box as far as how to care for your plants. If you plant your seeds and start them indoors, they will be in great condition to transplant into a larger container and put outside once the weather is warmer. TLC has a great article about starting your seeds indoors here.
I made the mistake of expecting myself to be able to grow tomatoes, strawberries, and a whole variety of fruits and vegetables the first time around. I ended up getting one measly strawberry from my plants and the tomato plant shriveled up. It’s like when David took me golfing and I thought I was going to be awesome the very first time; I was completely wrong. Just like anything, start slow and build your way up. See what works for your space and what doesn’t. I found a really good article from blogger Char Vandermeer about container gardening that was really helpful. Herbs are a good plant to start with; they are hard to kill and will produce well. I suggest going that route. Don’t expect to have a huge container garden your first try — just start with a few plants and go from there!
Make memories with your kids.
My favourite thing about gardening is the fun I get to have with my daughter. She loves to help me with all of the gardening: taking off the dead leaves, watering, planting the seedlings into soil. Gardening allows us to spend some real quality time with each other without the T.V. or the iPhone. I love that our spring and summer memories will be filled with us planting and enjoying the food and flowers that we’ve grown together. Not only does it create special memories, but growing her food gets her REALLY excited to eat it. Last year we grew some really amazing pea plants, and whenever I would go out to see if I could pick any off of the plant, she had already been out there eating all of the peas. When children see them grow from tiny seeds to a big plant it connects them with what they’re eating and makes it much more exciting.
I’m going to be documenting my progress this year and will do regular posts on how my container garden is doing. Stephanie will be taking part in this as well! If any of you are doing any kind of gardening, whether it be in your backyard, on your deck, or indoors, keep us updated on how you’re doing and if you have any great tricks! Check out the resources I’ve listed below to get you started on container gardening and check back in a while to see how we’re doing!
Container Gardening – Canadian Gardening
Container Gardening For Food – container-gardening-for-food.com
Guide to Container Gardening – Garden Guides