Plants are cool. I want my kids to know about plants and to think they are cool – especially vegetables. So, we started a container project in the small area we call our backyard.
My grandparents taught me about plants. When I was little, they had a big garden in their backyard. I can remember the whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins) coming together on weekends to help harvest and store. This was probably when my dislike of peas originated – the chore of taking them out of the pods was left to the grandchildren.
During the winter, my grandparents dedicated a big shelf in their back room to growing seedlings. As a child, I did not appreciate everything they showed me. Regardless, it is not unusual for me to know random facts about plants and how they grow. (They also grew grapes. So, I also have a sometimes surprising depth of knowledge about making wine.)
Nevertheless, I have been timid. I have been afraid that anything I try to grow will be unsuccessful. However, when you have a child that is interested in gardens, you just have to take the plunge and make it work.
Plants Like All Types of Containers
I spent a solid two weeks researching the “correct” containers for a backyard container garden. My conclusion is that any “sturdy” container can be used. A “sturdy” container can be carried when filled with gravel, wet potting soil and plant without fear that it is going to disintegrate or break. Common materials are clay, plastic, concrete and wood. The size of the project should be used to evaluate the container.
Due to another project, we happened to have three very sturdy, high density plastic bins. Instead of throwing them away, we decided to use them for this project.
Our area is known for heavy, dramatic downpours. Even though we could move these, we knew they would be pretty heavy. To ensure that there was enough drainage for our plants without causing too much soil loss, we drilled 10 holes around the center perimeter of the container. We also added 1/2″ of loose stones and marbles (another project leftover) prior to adding in soil.
It’s Ok to Buy Basic Soil Mixes
Remember the two weeks of research? Well, I also read lots of information on the correct soil to compost ratio and the appropriate nutrients needed for different plants. From previous experience, I knew the dirt in our backyard was not going to work. so I was fully prepared to buy and mix the “perfect” soil mixture.
Luckily, while I was browsing the various potential mixtures and trying to figure out if I should buy an $18 bag of special growth compost, a young clerk asked me what I needed. I knew I was overthinking the soil problem. So, I described my project and showed her the plants we were buying. She proceeded to hand me a $5 bag of basic planters’ soil that was labeled “Good for edible plants”. Apparently, basic soil mixes are available from farmers around the area. Who knew?
She told me that in future I should always check that soil mixes are good for edible plants. Apparently some mixes have extra chemicals that are good for keeping bugs away from flowers but are not so good for human digestion. Thus, soil concern was handled quickly and easily. (Composting will probably be a future project.)
Repotting is Fun
We have some other containers where we are growing from seeds but for this part of our container project, we bought a selection that was already started. For these we needed to take them from their starter packaging and plant them into our container.
My son and I had a great time playing in the dirt as we gently transferred the plants. Everything that we purchased was easy to move. The most we had to do was loosen up the root ball before placing them into their new homes.
Plants are Still Alive
It’s been 6 weeks and we are still growing! I recommend to proceed without fear!