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Containers Well-Suited To Late
EBENSBURG (Cambria Co.)
If the garden season escaped
you, consider starting a container
garden for the porch or patio.
Changes in growing media, soil
amendments, fertilizers, contain
ers and plant types have allowed
just about everyone to enjoy
garden-fresh vegetables. To get
started, you will need containers,
prepared soil mix, plants or seeds,
water, light and fertilizer.
Any container large enough to
hold a fully grown plant will be
satisfactory. Appearance is impor
tant if the container is used in your
living space. Root crops like rad
ish and miniature tomato adapt
well in a 10-inch pot or container.
Most larger crops such as pep
per, eggplant or tomato will grow
in S-gallon plastic trash cans or
half-bushel or bushel baskets that
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are 12- to 18-inches deep. Adequ
ate root space is important, and
containers must have drain holes
to allow excess water to move out
of the growing medium and away
from the roots.
Under no circumstance should
you use garden soil for your grow
ing medium. The weight and
physical properties (slow drain
age) of garden soil, as well as
weed seeds and disease organ
isms, make it unsuitable for con
tainers. Soil substitutes made from
peat moss, vermiculite and fertil
izer are ideal.
Prepared mixes are available
from most garden centers and
greenhouses. These mixes are free
of pests and weeds, hold moisture
and nutrients well and are
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medium, mix one bushel of horti
cultural vermiculite and one
bushel of shredded peat moss.
Then, mix in one and one-quarter
cups of fine-ground limestone
(dolomitic limestone can also be
used because it supplies magne
sium), one-quarter cup of 45-per
cent superphosphate and one cup
of a 5-10-5 fertilizer.
All vegetables need sunlight.
Leafy vegetables like lettuce, cab
bage or greens tolerate more shade
than root crops like beets and rad
ish. Fruiting plants like cucumber,
tomato, pepper and eggplant need
as much sun as possible. Consider
putting wheels on the container so
you can follow the sun.
You can probably still get some
transplants at the garden center or
greenhouse. They may also have
some larger specimen plants
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already in containers that can be
used. Seeds can be sown directly
into the growing medium. Use
short-season crops or those that
mature in the cool fall weather.
When selecting seeds, check the
packet to see if there are enough
growing days left in the season.
Since you are starting late, select
seeds with the shortest possible
Follow about the same plant
spacing in the container as you
would with a ground planting.
Don’t be tempted to crowd plants
in a container.
A container garden dries out
much faster thari an in-giound gar
den, so you may have to water
some plants several times during
warm weather. The growing
medium should be kept uniformly
moist. There is no specific water
ing schedule for you to follow.
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Just water when the surface of the
growing medium is dry.
Apply enough water so that a
small amount comes through the
drain holes. This will tell you that
the total root system is moist and it
will also help wash the mineral
salts and fertilizer residue from
the medium. This periodic leach
ing reduces the chance of soluble
salt injury to the root system. Dis
card the drain water; don’t let the
“salty” solution be absorbed back
into the medium in the container.
The initial lime and fertilizer
incorporated into the medium will
get the plants off to a good start
As plants grow, nutrients will be
used and some will be lost in the
drain water. Once the plants are
established, maintain fertility with
soluble fertilizer materials,
applied according to package
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