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Organic Container Gardening

written by: Bree E. Underwood•edited by: Lindsay Evans•updated: 11/23/2009

Organic container gardening is the perfect way to garden for those who live in smaller spaces or colder climates. Container gardens can add variety, texture and color to your home garden. Here are the basics of how to start a lovely organic garden using containers.

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    Organic Gardening for Healthy and Green Living

    Container gardening can turn a drab yard into a feast for the eyes! 

    Vibrant colors bring life to your container garden. 

    Having an organic garden means that you're keeping the nasty chemicals and pesticides out of your garden, the atmosphere and your body. Organic gardening also means utilizing a variety of methods to protect and nurture your garden such as compost tea and employing natural pesticides like ladybugs. If you don't have the space to go all out, or perhaps you live in a colder climate, then organic container gardening is a fantastic option! Even people who have large gardens like to add containers to their yard since they bring color, texture and variety to any garden.

    To start organic container gardening you'll need some basic supplies:

    • Hand shovel
    • Potting containers- choose the size based on the needs of the various plants you wish to grow (more about that below)
    • Organic potting mix
    • Mulch
    • Natural fertilizer
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    Choosing What to Grow

    Grow a variety of plants in different containers 

    When deciding what you want to grow in your organic container garden, you should consider several factors before making your purchase, such as:

    • Pick the right size container for what you are growing. Investigate ahead of time to find out how much space the plant will need once it is mature. You can grow many kinds of trees in pots - you just need to be sure you have the right size!
    • How much time will you be required to spend caring for the plants you want to grow, and is that suitable to your lifestyle?
    • Choosing plants that are native to your region tend to thrive best. You can visit the American Horticulture Society's website for more information on what grows in your area (see the resources section below).
    • Plants grow best in temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees F, and require between 4 to 12 hours of sun exposure everyday. Bring plants indoors during the winter season and provide shade for them in the summer- if needed.
    • When choosing your pots consider that plastic containers tend to keep plant roots cooler while wooden ones tend to work best in terms of insulation and absorption of water- plus they look nice!
    • Grow plants with similar care requirements together.
    • You can purchase seeds or buy starter plants to help you get going.
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    Part of having an organic container garden means employing gardening techniques that won't cause further damage to the earth. In fact, eco-gardening will help to improve the condition of both the planet and your body. You can grow delicious fruits and vegetables and know exactly what's going into your body. Gardening is also a fantastic stress reducer...so get your green thumb on today!
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    Prepping Your Container Garden

    You can choose decorative containers to make your garden look more interesting. 

    Once you have determined what to grow in your containers, it's time to get the containers and the potting soil prepared for planting. First you should clean out your containers with hot, soapy water and then rinse them out well. This will help prevent contamination.

    Purchase a high quality, organic potting soil and get it slightly wet in the bag that it came in. You can also make your own potting mix using equal parts of garden loam or topsoil, peat moss or compost and clean builder's sand or perlite. (Making your own compost is a great way to reduce waste.)

    Now you are ready to partially fill your containers with the potting mix - about 1 to 2 inches below the rim of the container. Remove the plant from its starter container very carefully, loosening the roots gently when applicable.

    Place the plant in the new container and gently pack in organic soil around it. Water it immediately with something nutrient-filled like compost tea. In addition, add mulch to the top to help slow water loss.

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    Extra Tips

    Use natural pest control methods and fertilizers for your organic garden. 

    Watering

    It's easy to over-water or under-water your plants. The goal is for them to be uniformly moist throughout. You should water the soil directly and lightly mist the plant itself. Drip irrigation systems are a great way to control water intake.

    Fertlizing

    Fertilize your container garden with homemade mixtures or purchase the the organic variety. This will feed your garden with life-promoting micro and macro nutrients, amino acid, minerals and tons of vitamins that plants just love! Compost tea, worm casting tea, fish emulsion and liquid organic fertilizers are all fantastic options.

    Natural Pest Control

    It isn't necessary to tarnish your garden or the atmosphere with toxic commercial pest control products. Many times you can simply spray pests off of your plants, or pick them off. In addition, you can use insects like ladybugs to prevent the nuisance critters from taking over. Container gardens already tend to attract fewer pests than ground gardens do, but if the problem becomes unmanageable using the above mentioned techniques then you can purchase organic pest products.

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    Your Organic Container Garden - A Place of Peace

    Your personal zen time 

    Gardening is a stress-relieving hobby and it also very rewarding. Maybe your garden will provide delicious and pure food for your body, or maybe it is to become a place of beauty and relaxation, or both. The time you spend planting, growing and nurturing your organic container garden is special, and many find the time to be a zen-like experience. Regardless of your motivation, you are undoubtedly attracted to the fact that organic gardening promotes a healthier planet and a healthier you!