Last updated on May 27, 2020 by Liza Hawkins
Starting a container garden is easier than you think!
Over the years I’ve acquired basic knowledge for seeds and plants and growing things. That said, I hesitate to actually call myself a “gardener” because growing plants — and, more importantly, keeping them alive — has been been, shall we say, problematic.
The irony of my lack of a green thumb isn’t lost on me, of course, given the fact that my mother and sister are experts in the field of gardening and farming (respectfully).
And, while I don’t profess to want to be a master gardening with crops galore, I do enjoy having a few freshly grown herbs and veggies at my fingertips. There’s nothing better than prepping a pasta dinner and stepping outside to grab a snip of parsley, or a handful of basil, to toss into the sauce.
Rather than construct a garden in my yard when we lived on my parents’ homestead — I could walk around our homestead property to enjoy (and pluck from) my parents’ garden plots and raised beds for that — I prefer the simple maintenance of a container garden on my porch.
And now, even in Bloomington at our new house, I still have my herbs and veggies planted in containers. Besides being footsteps away from the kitchen, my container garden looks aesthetically pleasing on the back deck — a mix of herbs, veggies, and flowers in varying pot types and sizes helps.
Here’s what else this beginner gardener has gleaned over the past few years!
5 Beginner Tips for Starting a Container Garden
I’m lucky to have a connection close by (um … my mom) for heirloom seeds via Garden Gate Farmer on Etsy, native to the area. She’s been saving seeds for years and they produce beautiful produce and flowers.
Every. Single. Time.
Because I don’t have the patience or the space to start seedlings from scratch, I typically forgo the seed stage (aside from tossing zinnia seeds into our flower bed — that’s about all the labor they require to produce beautiful flowers all summer), and instead use the bedding plants my mom starts in very early spring.
The quality is so great, that my only task once they’re planted is to make sure they’re watered enough (or not too much), and to pinch off growth when needed.
2. Do a little research and connect with someone who knows how to garden.
Again, here’s where I luck out. My mother is a master gardener (actually, I forget if she holds the true certification — but, she might as well be if not), and my sister is a farmer. When it comes to questions and help, I know exactly where to go.
If you don’t have family whose has gardening prowess like mine, then I’d look to friends with green thumbs OR I’d visit the local farmers’ market and ask the folks at the stands some questions.
Farmers are usually eager to help people learn how to grow things, and happy to dig into a growing problem.
3. Choose a variety of pots and containers and place them at varying heights.
Let’s talk aesthetics. My container garden is on my front porch because it’s easy to get to, and because it looks nice! Plus it gets great morning sun, and nice diffused light the rest of the day.
I chose different pots for my container garden — both in look and size — to group together towards the end of the porch. I have a few stands so that some of the plants sit higher than others, which makes the spacing interesting to the eye.
It also helps the plants that need more sun, because they’re sitting up higher and not shaded by others.
I’d love to say my containers were chosen purely for aesthetics, but the reality is nope. I used what we had already, so practicality wins for me (and in my mind, looks cool anyway).
4. Wear the right gear.
I don’t mean buy fancy gardening attire, what I mean is, wear comfortable and practical clothes. Try to protect yourself from the sun with a good hat, and lightweight shirts and shorts.
The only thing I’d definitely make a point of buying (that you probably don’t already own), is a great pair of sturdy and well-fitting gardening gloves.
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I have one last tray of basil to plant, and then my container garden is finally done for this year! 🙌🏻 The @aventuraclothing Arden Short (in beach sand) I’m wearing here has been perfect for gardening. Love them! 🤗 Here’s to keeping the plants alive… #aventuralife #ambassador
5. Grow plants you’ll actually use and enjoy.
For me, that means tomatoes, basil, Italian parsley, celery, chives, and mint. My mother grows lots of other things on our homestead property that I’m able to help myself to: lettuce, chard, potatoes, onions, garlic, etc.
There’s nothing better than stepping right outside my kitchen to snip some herbs for dinner as I’m cooking, or gazing upon colorful petunias and poppies. Makes me smile! And that’s what a garden should do.