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Just because you live in a condo or have restricted opportunities to garden does not mean you cannot get involved in gardening. Container Gardening in Toronto has become very popular because of the increase in the number of people choosing condo living and the desire to grow your own food.

The main thing to remember about choosing a container is that it must have good drainage or must be made of a material that you can drill holes into for drainage. Simply putting gravel in the bottom of the container without drainage holes will not work.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind for your container selection. If you want to keep your containers outside all year round, then choose a frost resistant variety. There are plenty of beautiful styles to choose from. Some ceramic and terracotta pots will need to stored inside during the winter. Wherever you purchase your containers, the staff should be knowledgeable about the effects of freezing and frost on each style of planter or urn.   Larger containers that will kept outside during the winter and will be planted with small trees or perennials, should be lined with 1” Styrofoam for insulation. This will help protect the plants roots during the winter months. Placing large containers on dollies or wheels will make them easier to move around.

Decide what you wish to grow in your containers. Whether it is beautiful blooming annuals, perennials, vegetables, fruits or even small trees, knowing this will help in the selection of an appropriate size of container. When it comes to filling up your containers with soil, ordinary garden soil is not the best option because it is too heavy and does not have adequate drainage. Garden Centres sell a variety of good soil mixtures suitable for container gardening. Moisten the soil first before putting it in the container and planting. The soil is usually dry and will benefit from additional water. Some good tips to remember when planting: never fill up the container to the very top with soil… leave 1”-2” of space at the top so that when you water, none of the soil and water spills over the side of the container to make a mess. Firm the soil around each plant during planting and ensure plants are set back 2” from the edge of the container. Watering is critical for container planting. Water until it is coming out of the drainage holes. Repeat when the soil has just dried out. The frequency of the watering will depend on the environmental conditions. Always water the soil not the plant. Drip irrigation is suitable for some types of container gardens and takes away some of the labour involved.

Vegetable container gardening is becoming very popular. Not only do they provide food but they can also look attractive while growing! Veggies and fruits with small root systems are the most suitable for example: strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and all the yummy greens such as Lettuce, Kale and Swiss Chard. All vegetables need room for their roots to grow, so larger containers are best for this type of gardening.   Small trees and shrubs can also be planted in larger frost resistant containers.

What are you waiting for…it is time to get outside and have fun experimenting with container gardening in Toronto.

Post written by: Shirley