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I am always finding ways to expand the gardens at my home. With each year the area of open ground is getting smaller. What is left and a little neglected are the massive expanses of stone terraces and wood decking. There is no better way to add more gardening excitement than potted plants.
One special area on the property is a lightly shaded stone terrace. It was here long before the thought of a garden was considered. In this area there isn’t much to plant in the ground and with large stately trees taking in most of the nutrients, I figure why not garden in pots. I have yet to over-winter perennials for this area, but for now I am experimenting with anything that will thrive, making this secluded place more special.
When considering what to write about and fulfill the mission for what this blog is about, I think that creating a beautiful and restful garden space to be necessary. Once the stone terrace garden is planted and well looked after, a relaxing moment here would be perfect.
Of all the hard work that will go into this potted garden, I wanted to take the time to discuss the importance of proper planting of such a garden. Potting plants are a quick fix for any trouble areas a garden may have and moving them around to accommodate a garden cocktail party will be a breeze.
1-plants | 2- pots | 3- potting mix | 4- granular fertilizer
5- slow-release fertilizer | 6- pea gravel | 7- screen material
The photo above illustrates all of the supplies used to pot plants, with the exception of landscaping fabric.
Items are listed clockwise from top-left.
1: Thoroughly clean pots of any dirt and root bits. Soak for one hour before filling if using terra-cotta.
2: Place a piece of screen material over the drainage hole.
3: Add a two inch layer of pea gravel.
4: Place a circle piece of landscaping fabric over the gravel.
Cut a piece larger than what would cover the gravel so the fabric can form a bowl that catches the potting mix. I think a few inches of rise will be enough.
4: Fill 2/3 full of prepared potting soil mix. [Potting Mix Recipe Below]
5: Nestle in plants and fill in with extra potting mix.
6: Water well and make sure water streams out the bottom of each pot.
7: [Optional] Cover the surface of the soil with pea gravel. This helps prevent soil from splashing onto the plants during heavy rains and gives a neater appearance.
The photo above is a cross-section of what a medium to large prepared pot should look like. The pea gravel in the base of the pot will facilitate better drainage. Also, the pea gravel will weigh down a pot that may become top heavy as plants mature. If your pots require a lighter treatment, try using packing peanuts in place of the pea gravel. This is great for surfaces that do not need any more weight pushing down on them, such as a rooftop garden.
I use a basic quality type potting mix with no fertilizers in it. Choosing to add nutrients are a personal preference, one that I love to experiment with and its nice knowing how your plants are to be fed. For the potting mix formula I add two tablespoons slow-release fertilizer and two tablespoons organic granular fertilizer for every gallon of potting mix. If you have any homemade compost on hand, add a cup full for a good dose of microbial activity.
In a few weeks the night time temperatures will stay well above the freezing point and planting can begin.
With all of the varieties of plant specimens available you are sure to find something for every spot or style that fits your garden. Now finding the right plant can be a challenge. Most nurseries carry a variety of commonly known types and a few unique selections that entice gardeners to try. I find that if you scour the gardening catalogs you will find many unusual plants and ones that fit your needs.
Considering to start your plants and vegetables from seed may seem like a frustrating task or just feels like a big job you can do without. I have felt this way for many years back when I gave seed starting a try. Giving in to not so great results, I started reading and experimenting to see how this could work because I wanted to grow plants unavailable in the nurseries and stock up on plants that would be more costly if purchased.
Deciding to start perennials from seed is a great way to add volume to a garden, but in doing so; perennials can take a few years to mature. I choose to stick with annuals, vegetables and perennials that give the greatest impact sooner. Plants that require several years to start bearing flowers I go ahead and purchase them for some instant gratification.
Something I am always finding myself doing this time of years is deciding on how to go about starting seeds. Should I try something new? Perhaps over complicate something that is just seemingly simple. So this year I will be sticking to my favorite way to cultivate plants and forget about all those elaborate seed starting contraptions.
5- starter fertilizer | 6- plant markers
The photo above illustrates all of the supplies I use to start seeds indoors, with the exception of heating mats and grow lamps.
Based on a last frost date of May 15th this is what my seed starting schedule looks like. Everything will be in order for the first seeds to be started. Typically a month is sufficient in my “greenhouse” to raise plants ready for the outdoors. Plants quickly outgrow the little space I have for them and out they go into the cold frame.
Don’t be discouraged that a detailed how-to list is not included in this post. Once seeds are ready for planting there will be a step by step guide in a separate post. If you are planning wonderful things this spring for your garden, get ready, planting soon will begin.