Not everyone has access to a lovely yard full of rich soil and abundant sunlight. For those of us in cities, container gardens—growing plants in individual pots—is often the only option. But there are special considerations for container gardens.
Most urbanites, and many suburbanites, are restricted to containers when planting a garden. Containers have a lot of advantages: they’re portable, cheap, and can be placed in awkward places, from yards to fire escapes to roofs. But they have special needs, too, and many home gardeners make some key mistakes that can prevent their fruits, vegetables and herbs from delivering home-grown deliciousness. So we’re going to walk you through the basics of setting up an expert-approved container garden.
You want north-facing light, because you want the majority of your light to come in the morning. You might think that the more sun you can get, the better, but that’s not always true: harsh, broiling afternoon light can burn your plants and evaporate water too quickly for your soil to really absorb it. And in containers, that problem is amplified. There’s less soil volume, so things do dry out more quickly.
The most important thing in container gardening, and the thing that almost everyone gets wrong, is not the material of the container but the size. You want to go bigger. Bigger means more soil volume, which means more root mass, which means it can hold more nutrients and water.
Go for a good organic soil, and mix with a good organic fertiliser. We stock a great selection. And make sure to follow the instructions for the amount of fertiliser to add: you might think that adding a little more fertiliser than the package recommends will supercharge your plants, but it’ll have the opposite affect. Over-fertilisation is just as bad as under-fertilising. Think of it like salty soup. If you over-fertilise you’re basically creating this salty soil that the plants don’t like. If you already have your soil, you can mix in some fertiliser and then make sure there’s a layer of soil on top, so the fertiliser doesn't scorch.