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Container gardens are versatile, easy

POSTED: April 20, 2012 1:30 a.m.

When it comes to gardens, most folks tend to think of large plots filled with rows of vegetables or beds overflowing with buds in bloom.

While those wide-open spaces are nice, container gardens provide a viable option for gardeners with limited outdoor space or who may not be able to bend down to tend low-lying plants.

Although you can buy planters, the specific containers you use for your garden are less important than them having two features — drainage holes and enough space to accommodate growth.

"You’ll see plants in wheelbarrows, a shoe, all kinds of containers," said Sarah Galshack, a Hall County Master Gardener, during a recent "Growing at Gardens on Green" workshop.

"You can really use anything for a container. Whatever appeals to you."

When mixing plants in a single container, be sure to pick ones that have the same needs, Galshack warns. You don’t want to pair plants that require full sun with others that grow best in the shade. The outcome just won’t be good.

Although there aren’t any hard rules when it comes to designing how your garden will look, many gardening gurus adhere to a few guidelines.

"They say containers should have a thriller in the middle, fillers and spillers," Galshack said.

"Thrillers are typically things that grow tall. Fillers go around them and then the spillers are things that will grow down the sides and soften the look of the container."

While you’re shopping for plants and containers, be sure to pick up a bag of good potting soil.

"Besides drainage, soil is the most important thing," Galshack said.

"Get yourself some good potting soil, not that 99-cents-for-a-big-bag stuff."

Once you’ve assembled all of your materials, it’s time to get packing — figuratively speaking. You want to keep things light, not compacted.

"These plants have got to have some air around their roots," Galshack said.

"You want to make it nice and light and airy."

To help reduce the amount of soil you need to fill your container, Galshack recommends putting a layer of filler at the bottom, before you add your soil. Peanut shells, pine bark mulch, even packing peanuts — if they aren’t the kind made from corn starch that dissolve in water — are all good options, she says.

"Most annuals and plants only need about 6 to 8 inches of soil," Galshack said.

"So I like to fill the bottom of my containers with something light."

When it comes to "feeding" your container gardens, Galshack says it’s nearly impossible to over fertilize since the regular watering washes away a good bit of the fertilizer.

Speaking of watering, Galshack has a slightly unconventional idea for helping your containers conserve moisture: Clean baby diapers.

"It’s very practical if you have little ones," Galshack said.

"They’re full of little water absorbing crystals. I just cut the little stretchy parts off and lay the (open) diaper on the bottom of my container."

Once you’ve gotten all of your plants transferred to your container of choice, there’s still one more thing you should do.

"Always take pictures of your containers," Galshack said.

"You’ll think, ‘Oh I remember this for next year.’ But then you don’t.

"If you really love it, take a picture."

If you haven’t decided on what to plant in your containers or your traditional garden for that matter, Full Bloom Nursery, 6662 Holly Springs Road in Clermont, is having its annual spring open house from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

In addition to deals on plants, fresh strawberries from Jaemor Farms and items from Hewell’s Pottery, the open house will also include live music and food.

 


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