There’s nothing like a fresh vegetable plucked straight from the garden.
It hasn’t been handled by many, it hasn’t sat on a shelf for weeks, and it didn’t have to ride in the back of a dirty truck to get to the table. Container gardening provides many with a fulfilling hobby and a full belly.
Master Gardener, Marilyn Lloyd, earned her illustrious title from Washington State University in 2008 and shared both her knowledge and experience of container gardening with folks at the Pleasant Senior Center on April 12th. The lecture was put on by the Age and Dementia Friendly (ADF) group of Winnemucca and Humboldt County.
According to Lloyd, the master gardener program—which every state has through an associated land-grant university (University of Nevada Reno)— is a way for science-based information from a university to be shared with the public.
Here are Lloyd’s tips for cultivating a successful container garden:
• Start a container garden to have fresh vegetables, to save money, have little time for a big garden, have limited space, or don’t want to deal with pests and weeds.
• Pick varieties for small spaces, bushes, compact or dwarf varieties, and varieties that bear fruit throughout the whole growing season.
• Pick a window sill, patio, balcony, porch, or doorstep area that gets a minimum of six to eight hours of sun per day. This is most easily determined by physically going outside at different points of the day and feeling the sunlight.
• Use containers such as planter boxes, ceramic pot, bushel baskets lined with plastic, or a plastic trash container. Ultimately, make sure the container is porous, and has plenty of drainage so the plants do not drown. Rocks can be placed under a container to raise it off the ground and promote drainage. The size should depend on the needs of the plant.
• Make a homemade soilless mixture of compost, vermiculite and peat moss, or purchase organic soil locally. When deciding between soils, look for the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) to make sure that it meets the standards of truly organic soil.
• Never reuse a container or soil that has been occupied by a diseased or pest-ridden plant.
• Use cages to support vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, pole beans, and squash.
•Choose a fertilizer that has a 5-10-10 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) ratio for vegetable varieties that produce fruit, and a 10-10-10 ratio for leafy vegetables. Fertilize every two weeks for optimal growth.
• Water thoroughly in the morning by hand or even easier, set up a drip system to do it automatically.
• Make sure to pay attention to planting directions.
• Check on your plants daily.
Lloyd encourages container gardening for anyone who has an interest at all in gardening or plants. She expressed the tremendous value it adds to her life in the summer.
She added “I think many, many people benefit by putting their hands in the soil.” The next lecture by ADF, HomeFit—Making Certain Your Home is Accessible, will be on Tuesday, April 26, at 10:15 a.m. in the Pleasant Senior Center.