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Container Gardening For Beginners

April 14, 2016

If you have the itch to garden this spring but are low on yard space or time, container gardening could be just the thing to bring a bit of green into your life. And whether you have a tiny balcony or a sprawling patio, everyone can make a bit of room for a planter or two.

It’s easy to get started. First, pick your container. Browse Gordmans or your local garden center for pots or planters that catch your eye. Options go beyond the classic terra cotta pot to include textured, painted and glazed creations of all shapes and sizes. If you’re the DIY type, browse your garage or basement first and you may be surpised by what you have hanging around (a wagon, a bushel, even an old pair of galoshes) that could be repurposed into a quirky planter just by drilling a few drain holes in the bottom.

Next, load up on potting soil and your plants of choice. Gardening gloves and a hand trowel are pretty much the only tools you need to get digging. When it comes to selecting plants, you can’t go wrong clustering together a handful of colorful flowers. For something more functional or funky, check out these four inspirational themes.

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CHEF IN TRAINING

What if you had all the fresh herbs for a three-course meal right outside your kitchen window? An herb garden container is an entry-level project that will pay off big time in the dinner department. Think cilantro for taco night, dill for smoked salmon on toast, chives for baked potatoes and oregano for pasta marinara. Just keep a pair of kitchen shears handy and snip at will!

BARTENDER’S BUDDY

Up the ante on summer parties by growing your own fragrant herbs for cocktail-making. Mint is a major multitasker for your home bar, necessary for mojitos, mint juleps and pimm’s cups. Lemon verbena is lovely muddled into a white wine spritzer or sangria. Basil makes a tasty addition to lemonade or bloody marys, and rosemary sprigs serve as a fragrant stirring stick for citrus-based punches or margaritas. If you have room for multiple pots, consider keeping the mint on it’s own; it’s more invasive than the rest and tends to take over.

TOSSED SALAD

How does a pot full of salad fixings right outside your door sound? Lettuces produce a decent yield for a small amount of space and tolerate both sun and shade well. Add companions such as cherry tomatoes and baby peppers or—if you’re feeling adventurous—even an edible flower such as calendula or chrysanthemum.

DESERT INSPIRATION

Succulents are super-trendy these days, and for good reason: They’re adorable and relatively easy to take care of, too. Decorate your patio tabletop with a shallow bowl full of succulents or cluster a few terra cotta pots of different sizes. Popular varieties to look for include echeverias (spiny rosettes), senecio (finger-like clusters) and graptopetalum (pointy-petaled beauties). Mix and match a variety of colors, sizes and textures for maximum wow factor.

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>When picking plants, make sure to take note of your location (full sun, full shade, partial shade, etc.) and cross-reference it with each plant’s label before buying. For extra-large pots, fill the bottom half with empty plastic water bottles or styrofoam blocks to aid in drainage and keep the pot from getting too heavy to move around. Happy gardening!

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