Container Gardening 102 – Purchasing and Prepping the Pots

I was motivated to start a garden, but where to start? Though we have over an acre of land, we also have lots of wild critters. Our neighbors have struggled to keep their garden protected so I though I would start our garden in containers up high in the safety of our raised deck.

I started looking for pots and decided to start with light weight pots on casters so that I could easily move them around the deck. I came across a container called a “Patio Picker” (also called “City Picker“). It is a “self watering” container – which really means it is self-regulating so that you cannot over-water. You do still need to water it daily, but you water it from underneath the soil by filling up a water reservoir. It looked interesting to me, but before I bought one, I researched it online to see if it was just a gimmick or a worthwhile container choice. All the reviews I had read raved about its ease of use and the growth it produced. So back Lowe’s I went. (Home Depot carried it too but in a different color.)

Being new to gardening, I followed the directions exactly …okay, I did skip the mulch cover, but I bought everything the container insert told me to buy:

  • Potting Mix (not potting soil) – I used about 1½ 32ct bags to fill one patio picker
  • Dolomite (aka garden lime)
  • Fertilizer

Because I want to grow an organic garden, I chose the “organic” variety of each.GYF PatioPicker 4 steps

To fill the container, I started by putting down the grate that creates the water reservoir while setting the watering tube in the correct corner. Next I started to fill in with the potting mix.  We filled the mix down into one corner so that the water can wick up into the mix as needed to water the plants.  As I continued to pour it in, Moe watered it so that it was moist enough to start the wicking process. Occasionally, we stopped to mix the moistened soil to avoid any dry spots. Then when the mix reached two inches from the top, we added the recommended amount of garden lime, filled in more potting mix and gently mixed the garden lime into the top 4 inches of the potting mix. Next, as the directions suggested, we made a small well down the middle, sprinkled in the fertilizer, and covered it back up with soil. Finally the patio picker was ready for planting.

Since this was all a new experiment for me, I wanted to plant some traditional pots as well.  Because one of my goals is to have light, movable pots, I used empty water bottles (with caps on tightly) to line the bottom instead of rocks.  I admit I was concerned with plastic chemicals leaching into my dirt but my light weight pots themselves are plastic.  As I researched plastic safety and it’s decomposition, I felt confident that it would not harm me or my plants as long as I refresh the potting mix after planting/growing cycles.   If you have empty glass bottles, I would imagine that would be a great alternative as well.waterbottle lined

I purchased more organic potting mix, drilled my drainage holes, lined the bottom with two rows of bottles and filled those pots to within 2 inches of the top.

Now, what to plant?MissMint_AprilShowers_edge

More on my gardening adventures….

Container Gardening 101 – Choosing to Garden

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