Starting a Garden

By lipsie Latest Reply 2009-06-27 14:37:47 -0500
Started 2009-06-19 08:16:56 -0500

Okay, now I am VERY interested in knowing how to go about starting something. I live in a apartment but the landlord is cool so I dunno. I dunno about the neighborhood too well yet though. But what's this planting a garden in the pots rather? And I don't know the first things about going about this…any tips, sites, etc.?? For someone clueless that is. Thanks so much! Sheila

20 replies

Pauline B
Pauline B 2009-06-24 19:15:39 -0500 Report

We've been growing tomato plants in huge containers (because that's what we have) and expanded our garden to include several vegetables grown in 7 or 8 inch deep heavy duty "plastic" bus tubs that we got from a restuarant supply house. We used a mix of houseplant dirt and 3/1 soil that is sold by the pick-up load.

Crops include 2 kinds of lettuce, strawberries, green onions, beets, short carrots, chives, and green peppers. This is all grown more for the fun of it and to see how things work out. We had to drill holes in the bus tubs because the extensive amount of Seattle spring rains drowned the first planting. We fertilize regularly, and watch for bugs but there haven't been any so far. Berries taste good.

GabbyPA 2009-06-20 18:45:25 -0500 Report

I live in a gated community (snootyville, we don't really fit in) Anyway, I cannot plant a garden so we do it in gallon pots. We have a little bed behind our AC unit, kind of hidden so no one complains.

Here is what we have done this season that seems to work well for a container garden.

First, we get seeds that are heirloom or NON-hybrid. These will produce best for you and if you keep the seeds, dry them, you have planting for next season.

Then we buy these little peat pots that come with a "greenhouse" tray and lid. They are about $6 at Kmart and will start about 40 seedlings for you. We fill them with Miracle Grow SEED STARTING soil and follow the directions on the seed packets. Keep your packets, even if they are empty, they will help you know when to transplant. We mark our trays with a plastic knife and we write the name of the plant and when we planted it. There is a huge difference in the times plants will sprout.

Once the plants have a set of "mature" leaves (that means a leaf that looks like the plant, not the seed leaf that comes up first) you can transplant them into a small pot with simple potting soil. We use PINT pots for this step.

Then, as the plant matures and gets strong (not all of them will grow, so plant several and pick your best ones) and they begin to sprout several leaves, you can move them into a gallon pot filled with potting soil. Don't use top soil, there is no nutrient in that.

Then you have to keep them watered well. In a pot, the roots can get too hot (at least here in Florida) so if you see your plants have a little wilt, make sure you give them some water. If you can add mulch to the pot to cover your soil, that will help a lot, but you don't have to.

After they have been in the gallon pots for at least a week and they look strong you can fertilize. Make sure you use an appropriate fertilizer. If you are growing flowers, use a flower fertilizer and if you are growing veggies, use one for those. They are different and you have to use the right one or you might damage your plants.

If you are growing tomatoes, crush up egg shells and mix them in your tomato soil. They need calcium and that is an easy way to get them some. They also need more fertilizer than say, green beans or cucumbers.

Our garden of pots is on our south side of the yard. We are using our fence as a trellis for the tomatoes and cukes. We also have black beans that are twining on the fence and now some yellow squash.

As your plants grow, make sure they have support. You can use a cage or tie them up but you want them off the ground, specially if it concrete. You will also want to trim dead and sick leaves off, to keep your plant healthy and watch for bugs. We are struggling with catapillars, they like our tomatoes. We pick them off and kill them. We are trying not to use any pesticides at all. That way you can just pick right off the vine....yum.

Some things that we have found that don't transplant well are: herbs, squash, green onions, lettuce, and radishes. If you are growing those, just plant them directly in your gallon pots.

You can get cheap gallon pots at your local nursery. Just ask them for some used gallon pots and you will usually get a bunch for a buck or two. You should rinse them and soak them in a bleach/water mixture, then rinse again. And don't reuse your dirt for growing things. The plants can have diseases or the veggies will eat the nutrients. New dirt for new plants.

I know that is a lot. I hope it helps. And yes, this is a great topic. There are a lot of folks here who do garden and they will have some great tips for you as well. Eating fresh from your garden is a wonderful feeling. We have been enjoying so much from ours so far, and it is good exercise to get out there and work. Nothing like getting your hands dirty! So dig in! Be patient, and watch it grow. It really is a lot of fun.

lipsie 2009-06-23 05:26:58 -0500 Report

Thank you VERY much! Shela

patti 2009-06-24 01:12:34 -0500 Report

I have a garden in my back yard, I grow green beens tomatospeppers garlic, carrots, and oinions. and strawberies, To keep the birds away from my tomatos I hang a red Christmas ornament on the plant lol it does really work. Like Gabby said the hybrids work great If you are close your public library has some great books on beginning gardening! hoping to extend my garden next year. Good luck with yours!

GabbyPA 2009-06-24 06:57:20 -0500 Report

Clarification, hybrids are ones you DON'T want. They do not reproduce themselves. So unless you just want to keep buying seeds every year, you want to avoid them. Besides, they are genticly altered sometimes too. I stay away from those kinds of seeds and try to get Heirloom seeds.

GabbyPA 2009-06-27 08:21:56 -0500 Report

That's ok, I figured as much. I just wanted to make sure that was clear. I know I kind of knew about hybrid seeds before, but I have learned a lot this year about them. And while they can survive or produce a pretty fruit....what ever they did to change it, there is nothing like a good old fashioned veggie, no matter how ugly it might me. The important things are taste and nutrition. Heirloom will give you both. I am amazed an how much better my home grown veggies taste, even over the ones I get at the Farmer's Market. Maybe I am just crazy...LOL

patti 2009-06-27 10:10:38 -0500 Report

Hey Gabby no your not crazy! Mine taste better too. but I do get alot from the farmers market just because it is fresher than the grocers. I am glad you are able to sneak in a garden! I have a window over my sink and I have herbs growing there just the right sunlight! Labor day weekend I will be canning all weekend tomato juice, sauce, and whole. but then I have enough for the year.

GabbyPA 2009-06-27 14:18:00 -0500 Report

That is one of the things I am working my way into. I made some sauce (my first) but the recipe told me to freeze it. Do you have any recipes for canning sauces that can be kept in the pantry? I really would prefer that in case we loose power, I don't want to eat all of that! LOL
Our tomato plants are bursting, and we get fresh ones almost every day now. Unfortunately, we did not plant a whole lot of plants and we tend to eat what we get. Next year we hope to expand. This year was our "experiment" year. Re-teaching ourselves the skill.

patti 2009-06-27 14:32:06 -0500 Report

Hey Gabby
I will send you the recipes and all the stuff you need to can. My girls help though out that weekend we have a great time I used to help my mom can tomatoes peaches, make jellies and jams, So I continue it myself and My girls are learning too. maybe this year I will let them do it and I will be the helper! Who knows? Glad this year was good for you with your garden am glad you can expand next year! Patti

patti 2009-06-27 14:34:31 -0500 Report

Hey Gabby
check your local grocer in the bakery dept they have the 5 gallon buckets from the frosting they make great pots too. sometimes they will give them to you!

mamaoak 2009-06-20 15:48:18 -0500 Report

hi there you get some pots put potting soil in them then plant tomatoes dig a little hole in the soil and put the plant in cover the roots and water not a lot . erbs you can grow erbs in the house if you have aa window, you have to water them do not drowned them just soak them a bit each day. good luck.

lipsie 2009-06-20 07:50:42 -0500 Report

As I look as this it makes me sad for I see the percent go way down. I could care less about points, if that even gives you any but I thought this to be important for some…diet…I dunno call me crazy but learning to eat healthier…what am I missing here????? On my other note, I am reading everyones' responses', ty very much, but I am lost LOL I really don't know the first thing about this…where to being, what to start with small first. I live in NY where winters are rough, dunno if I should mention that as well. I mean yes I want to do the dirt and mess, not just okay here we go…LOL but seriously HOW? lol I admire those of you that are doing this btw, I really do…I really want to do this and have something, a project, something else to live for kind of thing if that make sense, I know I am weird so I will shuddup. lol But thanks for the responses!! Love yasssssssss Sheila

cakeybakes 2009-06-24 18:54:51 -0500 Report

I use packing peanuts in the bottom of very large pots (not the biodegradable kind) instead of rocks for drainage. This makes the larger clay pots much easier to move if necessary. If I think the plant will get really big for that pot I cover the hole in the bottom with a coffee filter or a non-treated sponge (which helps retain moisture) and don't use the rocks or packing peanuts. You still get drainage, but you don't lose the dirt. Put the dirt in a little at a time and shake it down or tamp lightly so it won't "settle" too much when you water it for the first time. Make sure you plant your seedlings the same level they are when you take them out of their pots. Tomatoes should be planted up to the very first stem. They like their roots to be deep and they like to be watered deeply (very well).

I buy plants at the local nursery because they carry what will grow best in your area. Ask what will perform best in your lighting conditions. If you have lots of sun then you're good to go for veggies and herbs. Herbs don't like a lot of water, the soil should be dry to the touch between waterings.

If you do tomatoes, cherry or grape varieties perform very well in pots. I like the Sweet 100 variety. I put two plants per 10-gallon pot. Make sure you have a cage or make a teepee-type structure with bamboo poles. Cable ties make awesome plant ties, but don't STRANGLE your plant. I usually use strips of old pantyhose to tie the vines loosely to the cage or poles as they grow.

After that, you really just have to make sure and keep them watered (not drowned) and watch them grow. I swear by Miracle Gro Moisture Control potting soil! Make sure you pinch back your tomatoes if they grow little shoots between the vines (you'll figure it out). This helps get a better yield of fruit and not as much greenery! Don't be tempted to pick them too soon, give them time to ripen on the vine and they will taste so darn good!

Herbs are VERY easy to grow in pots. You can do a larger windowbox/rectangular type pot to grow several varieties. Easy ones are oregano, Sweet basil, lemon thyme, marjoram, French tarragon. Arrange them with different textures next to each other and it will be really pretty. Some of them may even come back next year if you insulate around the pots with bags of dirt or even straw. Sometimes, I've even seen piles of snow help with the insulation (but you have to have a lot of snow and make sure the roots stay covered). Pots don't usually winter well if it's too cold, but you may get lucky.

I hope you find it as fun and relaxing as I do. I have "grown" quite a lot of patience with trial and error over the years. Good luck!

cakeybakes 2009-06-19 22:32:56 -0500 Report

I also rent. We have flower beds lining the sidewalks. We also have LOTS of pots on the patio and the front walk. I even have pots of lettuce and tomatoes, and an herb garden along my back patio! I get a lot of compliments from neighbors and the complex manager gave my a Wal-Mart gift card one year for making things look so nice! It is awesome excercise and it calms me to dig in the dirt.

I have found the Miracle Gro Potting Soil (Moisture Control) is REALLY good for your potted plants. Just make sure and keep them watered when the weather gets really hot. Sometimes twice a day! I've also gotten the best results with terra cotta pots because they allow the roots to "breathe" better and will hold moisture better. The plastic pots just haven't yielded the results as well, and the terra cotta pots are much cheaper.

Also, don't buy a pot that will be too small for your full-grown plants! I have 14-inch pots and planted up to 4 plants in each pot! They are deep enough for good roots, but the tops get filled with a lot of blooms (or greens). A 6-inch pot is cute, but your plant will die very quickly in hot weather.

Lastly, HAVE FUN!

Robert C. H.
Robert C. H. 2009-06-19 11:19:52 -0500 Report

I live on the third Floor of a 3 decker and have a porch in front sunny and a porch in back shady. I grow tomatoes. cukes…, peppers herbs and even sunflowers for the birds in front and the back I grow plants that don't need a lot of sun and put them in the house in cold weather containers are easy and few weeds. Good luck Robert

MeiMei 2009-06-19 09:28:44 -0500 Report

Pots on a balcony are a great way to grow veggies. Also hanging pots, commercially known as TopsyTervy or Tomato Trees (I am making my own out of tarps) are a great way to grow vining veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash and you don't even have to support the plants because they grow down instead of trying to get them to grow up. You can also plant herbs in them or in pots on your balcony.

cyncyn 2009-06-19 08:40:32 -0500 Report

Are you allowed to have a flower bed? If so, you can plant peppers, tomatoes, etc., in the flower beds. You can grow tomatoes from a hanging pot, also. Grow different herbs from pots. I could go on and on!
It is so worth it!