Container gardens – ‘The new family garden’

Courtesy photo

In the garden

Today, less than 2% of the population in the USA is directly involved in agriculture.  This lack of background and exposure to farming and the increasing urbanization and apartment-ization (my word) of our country reduces the opportunity and knowledge for families to start gardens, have gardens, or use gardens. 

Our young families of today are wanting to know where their food comes from and want to control how it is grown. This desire has led to a boom in the interest in gardening. One method of gardening that has emerged is the use of containers to garden in. This method accommodates the lack of room for apartment dwellers or home owners with small yards. Container Gardening is what I am calling the New Family Garden

There are three very important elements of a container garden – container size, container soil and container drainage. 

The size of the container you choose to use will affect the plants you can use, the location you can place the container, and the weight of the container once filled (if you need to move it around). Plants require sunshine and will need 6-8 hours a day of sunshine. You will need to find a place where this is possible. The size of that space will determine how big your container can be. Some plants are bred smaller for container gardening, so don’t require soil depth and as big a space as an in ground garden would provide. Once you have determined how big a container your space can hold, identify what plants can grow in a container that size. Pay particular attention to root depth room required by the mature plants you are deciding to grow. Once you have picked out a location, determined the container size you need or have available, make sure that the container has sufficient drainage so plant root systems do not get waterlogged. Lots of holes, please.

Now comes the fun part, filling the container with dirt.  Be sure and use either commercially available potting soil or put together your own mixture for the container. Do not use regular garden soil. This does not drain sufficiently to insure good root growth and development. 

The Brookings Area Master Gardeners would love to see pictures of your container gardens.  Feel free to post them to our Facebook or send them to


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