Container Gardening Tips for your Deck or Balcony

  1. Think of ways to garden while standing up. Hang containers on a deck or place them on tables or retaining walls. This keeps rabbits and deer from getting to them.
  2. Avoid carrying heavy bags of potting mix. Although buying in bulk may be less expensive, it isn’t worth hurting your back. Consider a wheeled cart or wheel barrel.
  3. Use a quality potting mix, not top soil or garden dirt. (Think light, airy soil mix.) Some mixes come with water-conservation amendments that should require less watering.
  4. If your potting mix doesn’t contain fertilizer, use water-soluble plant food every other day. If it has three, six or nine months of slow-release food, begin using plant food after that period.
  5. Read and follow label instructions on sun/shade requirements that come with the plant or seed packet to get best results.
  6. Be certain that your container has adequate drainage. Otherwise, plant roots could be deprived of oxygen, causing them to drown. This includes draining the catch saucer after a very heavy rain.
  7. Consider using about ½ inch of fine mulch in a container to minimize watering.
  8. If the plants you purchase are root-bound, tease them out (I use a kitchen fork) and cut off about a third before putting them in containers.
  9. Refill watering cans (and extra gallon jugs) every time you water. That way, when you are in a hurry, the plants won’t suffer. I prefer using a gallon spout (versus sprinkle) watering can. It isn’t too heavy, and I can direct the water where I want it.
  10. If you harvest more herbs than you can use, chop them and freeze them in distilled water in ice cube trays. Once the herbs are frozen, store them in labeled zipper-lock baggies. Then they’re ready to use in recipes.

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