Gardening In Containers – 6 Things I Learned

This is the first summer in a few years that I decided to grow a garden. I’d been successful with an in ground garden several years (okay, maybe about eight) ago, but I was eager to grow some stuff that we could eat. This time around, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to be breaking ground and building wood barriers around it, so I grabbed some pots and went to town right on my deck! Anyway, here are 6 things I learned about gardening in containers:

1. Bush Cucumbers Climb Like the Dickens When Gardening In Pots.

Bought myself a bush variety of cucumbers because the little container said “good for containers.” I’m like, “Perfect!” Let me just tell you that unless somebody switched mine with a variety that vines, my cuke plant had no idea that he was a bushy, container variety.

So he wrapped himself all around my deck, growing cucumbers outside of the deck. I have to go through an obstacle course just to harvest these guys! This was a Bonnie plant bush variety I got from Walmart. Does it look bushy to you?

Potted cucumber plant
Here’s the cuke plant view in the container.
container gardening cucumber plant vining around deck
Here it is going through the front of my deck. Crazy plant!

2.  Organic Potting Soil For All Potted Plants Doesn’t Feed Veggies Very Long.

My bag of potting soil said, “Feeds up to 3 months.”

After about a month, I noticed my plants were beginning to cry. The leaves and flowers weren’t really producing like I thought they should, and the leaves around the base of my tomato plants looked like they needed help.

Next time, when I see a bag of soil that says that it feeds up to three months, I’ll know that it means up to three weeks.

organic container & potting mix bag container gardening
This is the brand I used that was purchased from my local Walmart.

3.  You Can’t Count On Bees in Your Container Garden.

I found that when my lemon tree was blooming, I had bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds stopping by to visit all of the plants on my deck. But when it stopped, my cucumber plant wasn’t getting pollinated.  No pollination. No fruit.

So what did I do?

I learned how to pollinate the stinkers myself.  The problem is…I’m not a bee, and in the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

4.  Sometimes Little Mushrooms Grow In Gardening Pots.

This freaked me out! But thanks to the good old internet, I was able to find out that these white little invaders actually add nutrients to the soil. They pop up when the soil is moist for a period of time. They die when the sun dries them (and the soil) out.

I honestly thought I was going to have to toss my pepper plant after about six popped up that first morning. That brings me to the next thing I learned.

5.  Pots Keep Soil Moist For Longer Than In Ground Plants (Unless The Plant Is A Cuke).

I found that I didn’t have to water my peppers, tomatoes and eggplant so frequently growing them in containers.

BUT

Those mean cucumbers. They feed like pigs in a trowel! They don’t like to go a day without something wet, at least on the surface, of the soil. And they want to have a deep watering consistently.

6. Alaskan Fish Fertilizer Is the Bomb For Container Gardening

When my garden began looking like it was slow to produce, I automatically thought about fertilizer. I’d used organic pellets, but as my plants grew, I didn’t want to disturb the roots by adding the pellets to the soil.

I decided to go back to an old friend, fish fertilizer.

Mix a couple of tablespoons with a gallon of water and use it in place of watering your plants. This stuff was an organic miracle made from rotted fish. The smell is nasty at first, but it goes away after a few hours. 

I used it every two weeks and my veggie plants got super happy! The cukes, being really heavy feeders, love it too. (That may be why they’re growing like crazy huh?)  I highly recommend it if you want to see your plants produce more. You can grab some here.

(It’s also good for indoor potted plants.)

Alaska Fish Fertilizer for Container Gardening - things I learned home by 12
This stuff is amazing for getting more blooms and veggies, and even more leaf growth in houseplants!

All in All

I grew a garden this year so that my little ones would be able to experience growing their own food. We’d studied plants over the school year, and container veggies seemed a perfect (and easy) way to grow.

Though the work of breaking the ground and prepping the soil is more work in the beginning of in ground planting. Container planting has its own set of issues that I wasn’t quite prepared to deal with.

Keeping up with soil nutrients in containers seemed to be quite more work than when I planted in the ground.

I think I’m going back to in ground planting.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer gardening in ground or in pots?

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6 Things I learned About Gardening in Containers

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