Here are several quick tips for creating a healthy basket or container garden this summer. They are quick and easy to use – so perfect for container gardening.
The first is to use an artificial soil composed mostly of peat moss. Good soils such as Fafard or Pro-Mix use perlite, peat, and other ingredients to produce a soil that will not compact over the summer. Real garden soil compacts and turns into concrete under the pressure of regular watering. And when it does, plant roots stop growing because they require good open spaces to move into and absorb nutrients.
Hard, compacted soils do not grow good plants so don’t use real soil in your containers. Reuse your artificial potting soil from year to year. Just dump it out of the pot and break it up with a shovel to cut up all last year’s roots. Then add approximately 10 % by volume of compost. The compost increases air spaces and gives plants a boost in healthy nutrition.
Feed your plants weekly. Nitrogen, the engine of plant growth, is water soluble and as you water your containers from the top the dissolved nitrogen is leaving from the bottom. Use a fish-emulsion liquid feed with seaweed to provide all the trace nutrients your plants require. You can use any liquid plant food (like Miracle Grow or Shultz) to promote growth. Compost tea is the Cadillac of liquid plant food and if you make your own compost tea, your plants will respond with bigger and better blooms as well as increased vigor.
And finally, no matter the size of the container, it is important to soak it all the way to the bottom at each watering. Continue watering until water emerges from the pot bottom. This ensures the roots can reach all parts of the container and grow properly.