Southern DIY: Container Gardening 101
I remember being a small child and growing banana peppers and tomatoes.
I was not a fan of them. Growing them was ok, but I really had zero interest in eating them.
Not helping was my grandfather poking fun at us by eating as many banana peppers as he could… ewwwwww.
Fast forward to being an adult with kids of my own and the local food movement really taking off. Now, I’m interested in learning about gardening.
This is for a few reasons. I’d love to save anything that I can on my grocery bills, for one. And two, maybe my kids will eat more veggies if they grow them!
So we went to Home Depot this past weekend and I picked up a few of the Bonnie Plants. Mostly because they were right up front and on sale, but they are looked to be in the best shape. I choose the rosemary, because I had a rosemary bush outside of my old house and loved the smell; lemon basil, because I could use it would make for a great addition to my cooking; lavender, because I love love LOVE this smell and want to use it in the products we make here at Southern Bon Vivant; and heirloom tomatoes, because now that I’m an adult I love tomatoes.
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Purely by a lovely accident, these particular potted plants only require you to take the plastic label off- and you can plant straight into the ground! I chose to go ahead and put them in slightly larger containers so that I can move them around my porch as I see fit. I’m hoping this doesn’t come back to bite me later.
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I also got some inexpensive pots from Home Depot. They had the .88 cent ones, which yes I started to get, but at checkout there were some $2 ones that also had the bottoms on them. So I went with those.
I also got their hanging strawberries, because my son insists that he wants to grow strawberries. And the Miracle Grow potting soil which protects against under or over-watering, because I’ll either forget to water them or overdo it altogether.
Now, at some point I do plan to get really nice pots and planters to put on my porch, but we’re still in basic renovation mode over there and I have yet to commit to a color scheme. Which will affect the color of my front door. Which will ALSO affect my patio furniture and therefore… the pots and planters.
For a moment there, I was worried that perhaps I made a mistake and should have put these lovelies into the ground. But the Bonnie Plant website reassured me that I did not, in fact, mess up. In fact, here’s my Top 5 Favorite Tips for a newbie gardener from their website:
1- All herbs do well in pots, also all greens, and all tomatoes
2- Self watering pots: “Usually made of plastic, these are containers with a reservoir at the base that holds water for later use. Often you can even water directly into the reservoir. Such designs are good time savers.” (I think these are the ones I bought by sheer accident, the plastic insert at the bottom just seemed like it gave good space or something- haha.)
3- “Mulching herbs with white pebbles helps keep the foliage healthy in humid climates. The pebbles, which dry out fast, reflect light and keep the damp soil from creating even more humidity for the plants.”
4- “Use a premium-quality potting mix. DON’T use garden soil; it can be too dense and infested with disease or nematodes. After a year, empty the old soil, which loses its original texture, into a compost pile and replace with new. In cool climates where decomposition is slower, a 2-year rotation is usually okay.”
5- “Before filling your pot, cover the drainage hole(s) at the bottom with a coffee filter, piece of screening, or scrap of landscape fabric. This will keep soil from spilling out of the hole but still let water drain; don’t use anything that will stop drainage. If you have a heavy pot, consider putting it on casters for easy movement. Then fill the pot with potting mix to an inch or two from the rim of the pot. Plant your plants, then fill in around them with more potting mix, if needed, to be sure that the roots are properly covered.” (Whoops, I didn’t do this. So I guess this means I get to go back and fix it… I was going to transplant my items into other containers anyway!)
Something else I discovered? I actually really enjoyed taking the time to put the potting soil in, making sure I had the right amount of soil in the pots around the plants, etc. It was a great way for me to unwind and focus on something other than my computer (even though I did get a couple of photos!).
Do you do container gardening? Send me your favorite tips and tricks! You might see yourself quoted in a later article.
Love to all y’all,
Molly McWilliams Wilkins
Molly McWilliams Wilkins is a Southern culture commentator, web producer, and social media marketing maven. She is also a freelance writer who has worked with a variety of publications and online magazines including Bourbon & Boots, Paste Magazine, Macon Magazine, the 11th Hour, Macon Food & Culture Magazine, and as the Digital Content Editor for The Southern Weekend. Mommy first, fashionista, social media maven, writer, artist, dreamer and poet. Hangs on to her Oxford Commas by force. Addicted to shoes and purses- and lots of coffee. Coffee coffee coffee.