The Q&A Archives: Container Gardening Basics

Question: I have a ten year old mentally handicapped son who wants to try container vegetable gardening. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. He is doing the garden as a science project and is very excited about it and we want to encourage him as much as possible.

Answer: What a fabulous idea! I am sure this will be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. Some keys to successful container gardening are:

1. Use large containers--small containers dry out quickly. Be sure the containers have drainage holes.

2. Use a commercial potting mix, preferably one containing some vermiculite or perlite to keep it light.

3. Choose compact varieties, such as bush beans or cukes, or determinate tomatoes. (Or you'll need to rig up a system so vines can climb.)

4. Be diligent about watering; keep soil moist but not soggy. Also, be sure to feed regularly with a balanced fertilizer. (If possible, use some compost in the mix at planting time.)

5. Be sure to place the containers in a place that receives adequate sun. Most garden vegetables need full sun.

6. For your first season, choose reliable, durable varieties. Lettuce, bush beans, bush zucchini, cucumbers, determinate tomatoes, and marigolds would be good choices.

Good luck!

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