Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern Coasts
May, 2004
Regional Report

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Containers can be focal points, add color to green places, and bring smiles.

Contain Yourself!

Growing plants in pots can be the answer to the constraints of site, soil, space -- and age. Container gardening lets the gardener pick the site and soil, and control water and fertilizer to precise levels. Perhaps tilling a new garden bed is impractical, but a collection of pots along a sunny wall can be a design opportunity as well as a labor reducer.

Larger pots require less frequent watering and can be focal points among smaller containers, patio furniture, and garden ornaments. Growing tomato plants and other vegetables in plastic garbage cans reduces their vulnerability to soilborne diseases, and makes for instant conversation on the patio.

Clay or Plastic?
Controversy reigns on the subject of clay vs. plastic containers. Afficionados of each swear theirs is the only way to grow healthy plants, but the truth is, both can be completely functional. Gardeners who like to water every day as part of their routine will find that clay pots dry out faster, and thus can take the daily dunking. Plastic pots hold more water, keep soils warmer, and are generally more durable. They are more forgiving if you forget to water for a day or two.

Gadgets to Help
If you haven't grown plants in pots since that ivy died on the apartment windowsill, you're in for a surprise. Accessories and tools have come a long way, starting with reservoir pots. First used to keep African violets in bloom year-round, reservoirs hold fertilizer and water at the ready. Wicks or perforated inner saucers put the soil in contact with its water supply, and it draws what it needs through osmosis. Look for ribbed saucers that allow air circulation around the bottom of the container.

Take advantage of small platforms with rollers for big or heavy pots, and long- and short-handled water wands for baskets and plants high on shelves or the wall. Your back will thank you. Areas without ready access to water can use rolling reservoirs. These small tanks feature pressure action that allows you to mist or pour the water on, depending on how much pressure you pump.

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