The naming is as true-to-name as you could imagine – growing a garden in containers. The most simple flower pot is container gardening. Planting miniature orange, banana or lemon trees in a pot is container gardening.
But whether it is several hundred acres of land, a 10 foot by 10 foot area in our back yard, or in a pot on our balcony – one thing nearly every gardener strives for is ease. We want to enjoy our plants, vegetables and flowers – not sweat over them – and not dump our paycheck into them either.
This is where permaculture can mix with container gardening. You need not buy the most scientifically berated soil and all the gadgets and gizmos at the garden center. Nature did not. Everything in nature relies on the cycle which brings nutrients from one part of the cycle to another – and you CAN mimic this in a container.
Bring Nature Indoors:
If you are “stuck” with buying some potting soil and fertilizers, then that is that. Better to enjoy your container garden then not have it at all. But did you consider everything before just giving in and buying what was there… literally on the ground for you to take?
Check with friends and family and you may well find someone who knows they have worms happily living in a compost pile or in their own garden. Ask for a shovel full of soil and put it in your container. In doing so you saved money in soil and fertilizer. Here is what you can do:
Place soil that has some worms (it does not have to be very many) into your container. Plant your seeds or seedlings (we encourage you to try to start with just seed), and cover it all with just about an inch or so of wood chips. Since we are dealing with containers, be sure to find some small mulch or chips to use, not the big “deco nuggets” that typically fill store shelves.
Mulch is not your only option – a bit of straw could work as well – essentially anything that imitates a ground covering, like what you may find in nature.
A word of caution! If you are placing these containers in a place where they will receive rainfall, be sure there are drainage holes in the bottom. Otherwise it may retain water too well. Remember, in nature water travels into the soil and then follows the contour of the land – the excess water needs someplace to go.
How, and Why, It Works:
None of us are all to anxious to get back to biology class, but here is a tiny refresher. Rain, or your own watering efforts, goes into the wood chips and into the soil. The wood chips decay and the worms eat it. Worms create manure, known as vermicast, which a highly rich in nutrients.
These nutrients replenish the nutrients the plant “eats” from the soil, allowing it to grow. The wood chips also keep a covering for the soil, meaning the water in the soil cannot easily evaporate back into the air – keeping the soil moist. That means you have to water less!
This little cycle repeats itself every day throughout the world without any human interaction. Recreate it in your own home and enjoy all of the benefits!
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