Tips on a Container Garden — What I Learned by Trying Containers

May 5, 2020

Interviewing Natasha Nicholes for this week’s episode talking about gardening reminded me about previous years of my container garden. This spring and my need to stay quarantined makes me wonder whether I will get much planted since I didn’t start from seed like I normally did and then I would combine those with a few plants and wow, my local nursery has been flooded. I hope to try again next week.

As I mentioned in the podcast, I have enjoyed gardening over the years but I keep it on a smaller scale than Natasha. Anytime I let it get too big, I felt overwhelmed. I like gardening for the things I love most in small amounts. It works well for me to use containers.

Container Gardening on My Deck

I started growing herbs and a few plants on my balcony way back in my apartment days. I’ve had containers at several houses since. For me, I can always make containers work. The house I live in now, has a fairly small backyard AND I have a massive tree. That means there can be a lot of shade. I do have a nice sized deck to accommodate a table, chairs and grill…. and it gets great sun at least some of the day and I like being int he shade a good bit of the summer.

For all those reasons, I found a corner of the deck that is perfect for a container garden. And it is close to the faucet for the hose too!

Bonus? The happy plants usually keep me from seeing the air conditioning unit!

Selecting Pots for a Container Garden

I bought some fairly big pots a few years ago based on the recommendations of a guy I worked with who paid for college by growing & selling tomatoes! I can’t imagine and luckily I don’t have to because I’ve seen his amazing garden and his daughters are on a path to do the same with their tomato business!

Anyway, I asked Eric about how to pick containers. I had some small pots for house plants I was thinking of using. He said using a few bigger pots usually works better. You can put a few plants in and all have more room to grow.

He also helped me decide to use plastic containers. I hadn’t thought much about it but, he said terra cotta pots can be really heavy if you need to move them and terra cotta also absorbs a lot of the water. This would let the water stay available for the plants, especially important if you are like me and may forget now and then.You do want to put a few holes in the botton of the pots — I used the drill to do it.

So I went big at the garden shop and then went home with pots and some big bags of potting soil. The people at shop helped me figure out how much to buy.

Early in the season these few plants look like I could plant more in there but peppers get pretty tall & can bush out quite a bit so you want to be sure you have space.

tomatoes and peppers

Choosing the Right Plants

As Natasha says in the podcast, planting vegetables you like is a good start. But I’d add if you can find ones you like that aren’t too finicky, you really hit the sweet spot.

For me, snacking tomatoes are perfect.

Part of that is I just love them. Regularly buy a container from the store & wash them, just leave the container on the counter in the kitchen and pick a few up every time I walk through.

The last few years I even put one container out by my front door so I could grab tomatoes as soon as they ripen!

The Sun Sugar is my favorite. It’s more orange than red which I think has been helpful because big red tomatoes kept having squirrel or bird damage on them. That wore me out! I didn’t get a single red tomato off the vine one year. Dang squirrels and birds!

I also love peppers. Usually have some jalapenos, maybe serranos, banana peppers…. And I use all the herbs. Sometimes I grow from seed that has been very carefully selected and other times I just get whatever seed or plants are available. They both have worked!




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