Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grow Up! - The Vertical Vegetable Garden

Do you picture a typical vegetable garden as a vast area, with neat rows stretching to the horizon? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. If your garden area is limited, you can save space by doing something your mother probably told you– “Grow Up!”

Container Basics:
The size of the container should be compatible with the size of the plant. Small plants in big containers put their efforts into root production, stinting foliage and blooms. Large plants full small pots with their roots, leaving little room for a nutritious planting medium. Think Goldilocks and go “just right.”
If your container doesn’t come with holes for drainage, use a drill to create some. For breakable materials like terra cotta, cover the bottom of the pot with tape to avoid cracks.
Fill your container with moist, but not soggy, planting medium. The best mediums are comprised of sand, soil, and light planting material such as sphagnum or coir fibers. Garden soil is not a good choice for container planting, because it’s too heavy and retains too much moisture.
When you’ve got the right container and the right medium, fill the container to 2” below the rim. While filling, break up any clumps of soil, and gently press down the soil to remove all air pockets.
If you’re starting with seedlings or transplants, set them on top of the soil in an arrangement that works for you, then remove the plants from their pots and place them in their spots. Next, fill in the space around each plant up to its crown. If you’re starting with seeds, plant according to the depth and spacing requirements specified on the seed packet, and finish by providing good gentle soaking of water.
Container gardens need frequent watering. Check the moisture level by poking your finger in the soil; it should be moist, but not soggy. If the soil is dry, add water until it runs out the holes in the bottom of the container. In warm areas, you may have to do this twice a day.
Finally, don’t forget to fertilize. Once a week, use compost tea when you water. If that’s too much trouble, use a gentile, all-natural, slow-release fertilizer that won’t cause salt build-up.

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