The pandemic has brought about a number of widespread changes in how we live, eat, and thrive. Gone for now are the days of carefree eating out. Tightened budgets often mean tightened belts as more and more Americans look to save money as their incomes take a hit with reduced working hours, furloughs and, in the worst cases, lost jobs. The silver lining to all this grim news is the growing interest of many people in growing their own food. However, substantial numbers of home gardeners find themselves challenged for space and turn to flexible, versatile container gardening to raise both food and flowers.
What is a container garden?
A container garden is a descriptive name for gardening in a pot. It’s the practice of growing plants -- including edibles such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices – in containers such as vases, pots, and trays instead of planting them in the ground.
In fact, almost anything can function as a container, from an old wheelbarrow to a galvanized tin bucket. The beauty of container gardening is that it allows you to be creative, and if you have a big enough container you can grow pretty much anything.
Why is container gardening popular?
Container gardening has become increasingly popular as a result of the growing need for high quality produce as families focus on sourcing more nourishing food for less money because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It enables them to create little islands of both healthful and beautiful plants around them while securing a ready and reliable source of food.
Adding to the popularity of container gardening is the flexibility and creativity it allows. Gardeners with a creative streak as well as a green thumb can bring splashes of color, texture, and other visual interest to their container gardens through their choices of plants, their containers, how and where they choose to place them and even decorate them.
Where to find container garden materials
There are many sources of gardening containers in different forms and shapes to meet any homeowner’s needs. Companies such as Garden Supply Company provide many options including raised beds and elevated garden beds, both of which are good for people who have difficulty bending over or simply want the convenience. Patio planters are also popular for smaller yards and locating flowers closer to your home. Of course, your local hardware or big box store such as Home Depot or Lowe’s may have similar options but not necessarily the same variety.
Looking to save a little money or just exercise your creativity? Look around for objects that you can “repurpose,” such as an old clawfoot bathtub or the above-mentioned antique wheelbarrow. Got some old drums or barrels laying around? Cut them in half and use the bottom as a portable container and the top as a raised bed. The only limit is your imagination and what you can scrounge.
Beyond the containers, most materials are common gardening supplies you can find just about anywhere: plastic lining, potting soil, topsoil, peat moss, plant food, seeds, seedlings, and established plants.
Vegetable container gardening
As we mentioned, many individuals and families get into container gardening to improve their food sources and ensure they have a ready supply of tasty, nourishing fruits and vegetables. This can be especially helpful when the grocery stores run out of certain items as the pandemic affects the supply chain.
If you’re considering a container garden as a go-to source of sustainable ingredients for daily meals, you’ll need to think about committing some serious space to growing enough to supply your table. In this case, one of the best containers is a raised bed because it helps prevent animals from damaging your plants and eating your food. Raised beds also give you enough space to combine vegetables that grow well together, as well as combinations of vegetables, herbs, and annuals that support each other’s growth. In Italy, this kind of vegetable garden is called a “L’orto” – kitchen garden – because they’re placed as close to the house as possible. An added benefit to any container vegetable garden: the quality family time spent planting, watering, and harvesting all that tasty produce.
Herb container gardening
If you buy herbs in the grocery store, you know they can be very expensive. But growing your own herbs is a wonderful way to save money and get better quality. You can start your herbs by seed or purchase small starter plants to get a head start on the growing season. Professional chefs really love the impact that fresh herbs have on the quality and flavor of their food and now you can enjoy the very same enhanced flavors in your own home. You can even place your herb container garden close to the kitchen so you have ready access to the herbs. No need to trudge across the yard to cut some fresh herbs – just open the patio or back door and harvest at your convenience.
A container garden for your pets
That’s right – consider a container garden containing plants that are tasty and healthy for your furry family members. In addition to making your cat happy, catnip is a natural repellent for mosquitoes. It also has great visual appeal for us humans, adding colorful blooms and pleasant scents to your garden. And don’t forget Fido. Dogs can benefit from fresh vegetables and herbs, too -- you can make healthy, homemade treats from what you grow in the garden. Just be aware that there are many plants that are hazardous to your pets, so do a little research first.
Container gardening can be fun and productive for the whole family. It also provides peace-of-mind as you become self-sufficient, growing foods to augment and even replace some of the items you might be struggling to find in the stores or that have become too expensive to enjoy on a regular basis.
Whether you’re just starting out or considering expanding your existing gardens, container gardening is a great way to get some gentle exercise, reduce your stress level, enjoy spending time with family, and be able to top it all off with something good to eat.
If you’d like to learn more about sustainable landscaping and a strategy for creating container gardens for your family to enjoy then please consider contacting us today. If you are interested in organic landscaping practices and how to protect our environment, please download our eBook titled "10 Common Gardening Mistakes that Hurt the Environment."