Container Gardening 101

Container Gardening 101

Prior to this gardening season, the closest contact I had had with plant life was my 7th grade science fair project, which failed miserably.

For my project, I secured three identical houseplants, as my experiment consisted of “watering” two of the plants with different substances while having a plant that received nothing. I wanted to know how would each plant would react given the following circumstances: no water, a standard amount of water, and … (wait for it!) … maple syrup! What?! Where did I come up with “watering” a plant with maple syrup? I’m confident my 7th grade mind was trying to make some scientific connection between the plant’s survival on maple syrup and my own. You know how the story ended. I was left with two dead plants and one plant that was so traumatized by seeing its friend watered with maple syrup that it died, too. If you weren’t previously convinced I was born a liberal arts major, this illustration solidifies that claim.

At the beginning of this gardening season, I told my husband this story. From then on, he kept a careful eye on my interaction with our babies, as we call them.

The plants (thus far) have survived, there’s been no maple syrup in sight, and our marriage has been strengthened by our Container Gardening 101 life lessons learned.

Here’s what we did (so you can do it next year!):

  • We used recycled planters to limit buying new stuff. Two of them were actual large planters, one was a trash can, and the other two basins purchased from the Dollar Tree. I recommend the recycled planters–they have done the best and have held the most water for the plants to enjoy throughout the day.
  • We purchased organic container gardening soil specified for vegetables. You can find this at most stores that carry garden supplies.
  • In late April, we attended a Grow and Share event. These are great for beginning gardeners. You can pick out up to 24 plants for free provided you sign a contract pledging to share your harvest and/or plants. We came home immediately and gave some of our plants to our neighbor, and our harvest has been already shared.
  • We planted tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini, cucumber, and basil. We watered and nurtured them, (I pray over them and to them, which Fred thinks is funny). Each May and June morning, we’d rush awake to greet them and see how they had grown.
  • Most days, I keep a pitcher by the sink to collect non-potable water from dishes to water our plants with. This cuts on the water costs and promotes sustainability.
  • The most challenging part of container gardening: the schlepping. As my office is at home, I’m in charge of schlepping. Our apartment faces East and receives morning sun. Each morning, Fred puts them out front for morning sun, and I schlep them to the back for afternoon sun. All of our plants need a full day of sun, so that’s how we do it.
  • Harvest: we’ve harvested tons of basil and made this tasty, inexpensive pesto recipe as a result. We’ve cut one zucchini and one cucumber and have several peppers and tomatoes that are almost ready.

Basil Pesto Recipe from New Life on a Homestead

  • 1 1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 c. lemon juice
  • 1/8 c. olive oil

Put the basil, garlic, and cheese into a blender or food processor and mix well. Pour in the lemon juice and olive oil, and mix again until well blended.

The gardening life really is a blast. It’s amazing to see God’s work in nature and to be a helper in that process.

Did you begin a container garden this year? What have you learned/experienced? Please share!

Photo credit: PictureNewYorkLG

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