Best Soil Mix for Container Vegetable Garden

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I charge some admonition on the best practices to use for agronomical with containers. I appetite to add some blush to my patio this summer.

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— Debbie Johnson, Woodstock

Start by purchasing a high-quality growing average for your containers. It is best to use a commercial, lightweight, soil-less growing average that is advised for alembic agronomical and not garden soil, alike if you alter it with beach or compost. If you put garden adobe into a container, both aeration and arising will be acutely impeded, no amount how acceptable your adobe is or what you alter it with.

Growing mixes for containers are consistently attenuated to ensure able arising and aeration. There is no charge to put a band of alluvium at the basal of your containers for drainage, admitting it is important that your containers accept a arising aperture or holes in the basal for balance baptize to run out. Unless your alembic is actual small, the arising aperture should be about three-quarters of an inch in bore or it will calmly bung up. A awning or adobe atom can be placed over the aperture to anticipate the average from abrasion out.

Choose containers that are the appropriate admeasurement to be in calibration with the surrounding landscape. For instance, if you accept a baby accommodation balcony, accept a abate pot. Plants in abate containers will charge added common watering. Terra-cotta containers should be stored central in winter; if larboard outside, they will blot baptize and crack. Fiberglass, stone, advance and accurate containers can about be larboard outdoors in winter.

If your containers are large, accede bushing some of the accessible amplitude in the basal with old artificial pots or a bag abounding of aircraft atom to save money on the growing average that you charge to buy. I generally use the artificial pots of the plants that I accept purchased to ample in the basal of beyond containers.

Depending on what plants you plan to grow, you’ll charge a bottom or so of growing average aloft the accompaniment material. The bigger the plants that you appetite to grow, the added growing average you charge in the pot. Abstain bushing your containers to the top — it will be easier to baptize the plants if the growing average is hardly beneath the lip of the container. If the growing average is too high, baptize will run over the abandon of the container. For a bounce alembic burying of low-growing violas, I hardly mounded the growing average in the pot so that the flowers were added arresting — that alembic needs to be watered carefully.

Apply a slow-release fertilizer back you bulb the containers for the summer season. These fertilizers will gradually absolution nitrogen for plants to use. The added common watering of containers can bleed nutrients out of the growing medium, so supplement with a aqueous fertilizer a brace times during the summer if needed. Signs of “hungry” plants accommodate bargain advance and an off-green blade color.

On occasion, I reclaim some of the antecedent year’s growing average by replacing about bisected of the old average with beginning medium. In that array of scenario, abacus added fertilizer will added acceptable be all-important for the best bulb performance. It is important to abstain overfertilizing the plants, though. Too abundant nitrogen can aftereffect in colossal plants with few flowers.

Tim Johnson is administrator of agronomics for the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

ctc-realestate@chicagotribune.com

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