As the city sees an increase in high-rise apartments with little to no lawn areas, many gardening enthusiasts are stumped on how to pursue their passion within concrete walls. Enter container gardening — a cheap and low-effort way to grow vegetables and fruits while improving home decor. Freelance
Organic Farming and Horticulture consultant with over 30 years of experience, CP Anoop Kumar, breaks down the process for all those with a green thumb.
What type of containers can be used for container gardening?
The type of the container is immaterial as it can be of any shape, size and material. The container just has to serve the purpose of preventing the soil from falling apart so the roots can be established and moisture can be retained.
Things like paint containers, water bottles, old vessels, non-woven bags can be used. Apart from these, terracotta containers, cement containers, HDPE (High Density Poly Ethylene) bags and pots, polycarbonate pots and troughs are also recommended.
Is having holes in the container necessary?
The pot should have holes in the bottom to have a good drainage system in place. Large broken bricks or pebbles should be kept around the holes so that the drain holes will not get closed by the potting mix and the mix will not flow out through the holes.
Which types of soil are most suitable for container gardening?
Loam is the best soil that can be used for gardening as it contains sand, clay and organic materials. For container gardening, a combination of river sand, clay and humus in 1:1:1 ratio is used to mimic the texture of soil.
It is best to use one part of garden soil, one part of river sand and one part of well-decomposed farm yard manure, cow dung, leaf compost or kitchen compost. Mix everything well and store it for 10 days. This mix can be used to grow any type of plant.
How often must the soil be replaced and how regularly must it be watered?
Annual plants will have to be started each season as they die soon after flowering or fruiting. The perennials have to be repotted depending on their health, condition of the soil and water retaining capacity. If the water from the pots is running off easily and the plants are withering, it indicates that the plants need to be repotted.
The soil used to repot plants must be filled with mix that has been sitting for more than 10 days. Watering the plants depends on the plant and the type of soil mix. For example, a well-balanced pot mix will hold water in hot weather for a day or even two.
How much produce can be expected from a container?
Plants yield quite considerably in containers, provided the size of the containers relates to the plant growing in it. The size of the container must be decided according to the type of plant that one wishes to grow.
For example, gourds require large containers as they have long, spreading roots and need to be topped with nutrients from time to time.
What kind of plants can be grown in a container?
You can grow any type of plant — flowering plants, fruiting plants or herbs — in pots. A few plants like banana and palms can also be grown in containers. If large plants are grown in small containers, they will not yield. However, they can be used for ornamental purposes.
How time consuming is the process?
Apart from the initial set-up and training required for plants, at least one hour must be spent on the plants every day. For maintenance, namely major resetting and shifting work, half a day is required.
What kind of plants do you recommend for beginners?
For beginners, it is ideal to grow okra (ladies finger), eggplant, tomatoes and greens. Growing herbs like mints, basils and perennial greens will be appropriate as they are less demanding.