Kerry Michaels has been an obsessive container enthusiast since moving to Maine seven years ago. She has been a writer and producer of multi-media for 20 years. Her credits include, Country Living Magazine, The Twentieth Century with Mike Wallace and the award winning documentary, River of Steel. On twitter she is @containergarden and may be found at about.com
This may sound ridiculous, but I truly think that everyone should grow plants. There is mounting evidence that growing stuff is good for you psychologically – plants make people happy and more productive, and plants can actually clean chemicals out of indoor air.
I’m particularly fond of growing plants in containers. This is partially due to my extreme aversion to weeding and also because I’m a huge fan of instant gratification. I find immense satisfaction in buying seedlings at a farmers’ market; popping them into a container and watching them grow.
I believe that anyone can grow plants, but also that they are kind of like chickens, or any other living thing - you need to pay attention to them and learn what your plants need – which actually isn’t much.
If you want to grow plants in containers there are only a few things you need to know to get started.
-You can use almost anything for a container. I use everything from juice boxes to colanders to re-usable grocery bags. However, I only use containers that either have, or that I can pound, drill or nail drainage holes into, because most plants will die if their roots sit in water.
-The bigger your container, the better because the bigger your container, the larger your margin of error is for watering. Small containers dry out fast and that can mean that some you will have to water, in the heat of summer, many times in one day – which is just not in my joy spectrum.
-Use potting soil, not garden soil. I use an organic potting soil.
-Most potting soil has no nutrients for your plants and they won’t thrive if you don’t add some food. Mix a slow release fertilizer into your potting soil before you plant anything in it – worm poop is great for this. Then feed your plants regularly with a liquid, diluted plant food. I use a combination of fish emulsion and seaweed.
-Read your plant label and pay attention to what it says in terms of how much sun your plant needs and how much water. That said, most plants want to be in slightly damp soil – not wet, not dry but damp.
To be honest, gardening is a crapshoot and sometimes your plants will die. That said though, there are few greater pleasures than eating something you have grown yourself or watching a flower unfurl. And like chickens, plants can be a pain, but most of the time they are well worth it.