October 16, 2021

Contain yourself: Tips for growing a garden in limited space

GREENFIELD, Ind. — The interest in growing plants and starting a garden has increased immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic because individuals want to grow their own food and be able to feed their families.

“There is a of excitement right now to plant something,” said Roy Ballard, a retired Purdue Extension agriculture and natural resources educator in Hancock County.

Ballard said a lot of people are turning to container gardening because they do not have space to plant a garden in the ground.

Ballard shared important tips for individuals to take into consideration when growing plants in containers:

1. Select the right sized container. Ballard said that when plants don't grow properly in a container, oftentimes it's because the container wasn't large enough. Full-size plants such as heirloom tomatoes need more space than just a gallon-sized container or bucket because the plant will become root bound and stressed. Ballard said that choosing the right container is crucial so the plant has adequate space to grow.

2. Adequate drainage. Containers must have plenty of drainage so that excess water can escape. Ballard said that if a container or bucket that individuals are planting in lacks proper drainage, then they should drill some holes in the bottom of it. He added that water needs to be able to get into the plant and get out.

3. Proper growing media. Ballard said that finding the right growing media is just as important as proper drainage and growing space. He said that when planting in containers, often the plant needs more nutrients than potting soil would provide, which is why he recommends individuals use an artificial growing media that has peat moss, bark chips or sand in it.

4. Water is key. To make sure a plant grows successfully in a container, Ballard said that water is the key because either too much or too little water can kill a plant. He said that plants get a lot drier in containers than in the ground. Ballard said individuals need to watch plants carefully because some plants that are bigger need more water as they continue to grow and mature.