Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gardening in a pot

One of the classes that I took yesterday was about container gardening. I made this little bowl and then I purchased the bigger one pictured at the bottom.

Here is how you make it.
You need a bowl that is wider than it is tall. Not a traditional flowerpot. The bowl needs to have a hole in the bottom for drainage. Don't try to do this in a regular bowl with no hole in the bottom. For my little garden, the bowl is about 8 inches wide.
Then you need an herb plant to go in the center, such as mint, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, basil, or parsley. For my 8-inch bowl I chose a mint plant that had been started in a container 4 inches in diameter.
Then you need some flowers to go around the edge. For my 8-inch bowl I chose 3 Violas that had been started in 2-inch pots. For a bigger bowl you may want to choose 2 different flowers, in sets of 3. Like, 3 Violas and 3 Nasturtiums. The key is to make sure you are choosing all plants that have similar sun and water requirements.
Finally, you will need a coffee filter that folds flat (the cone kind, not the basket kind), and some potting soil.
Take your empty bowl and put the coffee filter on the bottom, flat, over the hole. This will allow water to drain out while still keeping the soil in.
Then fill up your bowl with potting soil. The bowl will likely have a sort of ridge around the edge, 1-2 inches from the top. Fill the bowl up to that ridge.
Dig a little hole in the middle for the herb to be planted in.
Loosen your herb plant within the pot, by sort of squishing the plastic pot. Then loosely grasp the plant at its base and flip the pot upside down so the plant comes out into your hand. The roots will have wound themselves around the inside of the pot. You have to loosen the roots before re-planting, or they will continue to grow in this winding fashion. The easiest way to loosen the roots is to pull the root ball apart from the center. Hold the root ball with both hands and pull apart slightly, as if you were separating an orange. Then turn the plant 90 degrees and repeat. So you have made sort of a "+" in the bottom of the plant. This will encourage the roots to grow outward. The herb plants are hardy, so you can be rough with the plant not worry about it.
Plant the herb in the center of your bowl. The top of the root ball should not be higher than the top of your bowl. Dig deeper into the soil of your bowl if necessary.
Then prepare the 3 flower plants the same way. Squish, dump them out, loosen the roots. Plant them in the bowl in a kind of triangle so they have room to spread. When you put them in the bowl, angle them outward just slightly. The flowers will look better if they are spilling over the side of the bowl instead of growing straight up. Like the white flowers shown here.

Fill in the empty spaces between the plantings with more potting soil.
Now you are done! Enjoy your garden. Cut back as needed and use the herb regularly in your cooking so it does not take over the whole container.

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