Saturday, March 18, 2017 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Versatility of Gardening in Containers

Grab a container and start gardening

BRIAN JERVIS Master Gardener

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Q: I would like to grow some vegetables in pots on my patio. What can I grow and how do I get started? Barb, Tulsa
A: There are many advantages to growing both ornamentals and vegetables in containers. For people in apartments with limited space or those not wishing to create and maintain a traditional garden, containers may be the answer.
Many types of vegetables and most herbs lend themselves well to this type of gardening. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash and a variety of salad greens can be grown separately or mixed with any of your favorite herbs. The main thing is to pick plants that have the same growing requirements.
Containers can be as attractive and elegant as colorful glazed pots; as whimsical as an old wheelbarrow or leather boots or as traditional as clay, plastic or metal. They not only can add to the d├ęcor of an outdoor living space such as a patio, but have the added advantage of being portable, allowing one to be flexible about this design.
Whichever type of container you select, it must drain well. You should also be aware that some pots, such as clay, are porous and will need to be watered more often and are more likely to freeze and crack in winter. Be aware also that light-colored pots are cooler in summer than those of darker shades.
The potting soil is very important. It is best to select a good brand of soil; they are not all created equal. Most contain variable mixes of compost, peat moss, sand, vermiculite and other materials. Slow-release fertilizer with both the major and minor nutrients are added to many potting soils. Do not use soil from the garden as it may contain disease and drain poorly.
After planting your container, water and fertilizers are the next most important considerations. Since potting soils must be loose and porous, they do not retain water and nutrients as do soils in your garden.
Containers should be watered when the top of the soil is dry. Enough water should be added to allow drainage from the bottom of the pot. Drainage water should be discarded, it contains undesirable fertilizer residues that may be harmful to your plants if not removed. In summer, many containers will need irrigation every day or every other day. Drip irrigation, which may be easily installed, is perfect for conveniently irrigating all of your containers.
All plants have their individual needs for fertilizer. But a generic suggestion is to use a general liquid fertilizer once every two to three weeks. Do not over-do it; too much nitrogen fertilizer may be harmful. This is especially true with tomatoes, which would do best with the above schedule using the fertilizer at half strength of what is recommended on the label.
Container gardening has unlimited possibilities fitting into most gardener’s plans, not only for attractive flowers, but for many types of vegetables.
For more information, contact the Master Gardeners at 918-746-3701 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Garden tips
·       Cool-season lawns such as bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass may be fertilized now with the first application of the season. Usually, four applications of fertilizer are required per year, in March, May, October and November. Never fertilize these lawn grasses in summer.
·       Start your routine fruit tree spray schedule prior to bud break. Contact the Master Gardener Office for a document outlining recommendations for all fruit tree types — they are not the same.
·       Don’t prune out parts of plants which may look like they have “winter-kill”. They may still be alive and may rebound with spring-time weather.


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