Enjoy the flexibility of container gardening

Andrew Mangwarara
MORE people are moving into smaller apartments and residential stands as the demand for space increases.

But for garden lovers this need not be a big worry as you can still create a wonderful garden with containers using the limited space that you have.

Container gardening is the answer if your yard or flat is small. You can play around with different ideas to create your own unique urban xeriscape.

Containers come in different colours, shapes and sizes. Asbestos or cement pots can easily be painted to suit your colour preferences. Pots can be chosen to fit the design concept of the garden, with formal designs requiring round or square type of containers.

The first step is to choose the correct type of pot in terms of size, in proportionate to the garden. Why place a very large pot in a small area. You can also maximize the amount of space you have by making use of metal or wooden stands, which would allow you to place different pot sizes cascading upwards.

Not to forget the power that hanging baskets have in beautifying your garden. As another part of container gardening, hanging baskets can fit on house walls or boundary fences. Containers need not be the expensive stuff, you can also use wood panels to build raised beds to grow your vegetables or flowers.

Another important aspect of container gardening is that you can always move your pots into different positions to suit your design or to accommodate the type of plant you are growing, shade or sun loving.

Even if your schedule is tight, pots allow you the privilege of using different methods to water your plants. You can install a drip line or self-watering techniques, which will allow you to leave your garden for days on end without watering.

This involves just installing a rope into the pot whilst the other end is dipped in a bottle of water. The container will be replenished with water from the bottle as it dries.

Choose those pots that will allow you to easily remove your overgrown plants, such as those with small bases and wide tops or those with no curves at the rim.

Container gardening requires that you use the right potting mix. A general guideline is to use one part soil, one part compost, one part river sand and a general fertiliser (250g for one wheelbarrow potting mix).

Each component plays a pivotal role, river sand ensures adequate drainage and aeration while the soil and compost supply the much needed nutrients and improves the water holding capacity of the mix.

Most plants will grow well in pots and if you are using larger pots you can have the advantage of mixing different plants together to create variety. You can grow vegetables, herbs, annuals, ornamental shrubs and some trees as well.

Pots allow you to extend your garden indoors. The major headaches in container gardening are not ensuring that your pots have enough holes at the bottom, which could cause water logging problems for your plant.

Asbestos or cement pots have the disadvantage of being porous so they can easily dry out as they easily respond to temperature changes. Therefore you need to take care to give your plants plenty of water, depending on the weather patterns.

Container gardens can be transformed every now and again at low cost by simply changing the plants and pot colour.

The versatility of container gardening is that when you simply cannot make time for gardening, you can easily hang the boots by removing the soil and tucking the pots away for use at another juncture when the opportunity arises again.

This is something that you cannot do in a normal garden since nature has a tendency to take over easily. So why stress? Move over to container gardening and enjoy the flexibility it brings.

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