Since we are on the subject of urban organic gardening, it is likely that the gardener will be using containers due to limited space or soil that may have a questionable history. Containers from pots, to fence boxes and raised bed boxes can be used and keeping the plants in them healthy requires a little attention.
As with all gardening, the concerns are sunlight, soil, water and nutrients. One of the first items of importance is water. Plants in containers cannot reach moisture by sending roots down or out. They are limited by the container they are grown in. This means checking the moisture level and never letting the container dry out too much. If that happens, even if you do water enough later, the plant’s energy may go into root production rather than flowers, leaves or fruits. A watchful eye is necessary if you don’t want stunted growth. Dark pots absorb heat. Clay and porous material can dry out faster. Try moving the containers around if possible to avoid overexposure to sun and rapid moisture loss.
Plants in containers need nutrition because they can’t rely on just the planting medium in the pot. Watering can wash out whatever nutrients there are so nutrients must be replenished. Some potting soils now come with fertilizer/nutrients added that can time release from 60-120 days. Read the labels to find out what the nutrients are and how long they’ll last.
If you’ve got your own soil and are on a budget, here are some common household items that can be added as fertilizer.
Coffee – provides nitrogen, calcium, copper and potassium.Sprinkle around acid loving plants or use if the soil is too alkaline.
Epsom Salts – provides magnesium used in small amounts. Try 1 tablespoon per gallon of water once a month. Roses, tomatoes and peppers use this.
Fish Tank water – use fresh water tank water only! Provides nitrogen for plants.
Eggshells – provide calcium for plants. Wash them, dry them and pulverize into a powder. Sprinkle around container. You can use a blender to crush them or wrap in a paper towel and use a meat tenderizer’s blunt side.
Wood Ashes – provide potassium and calcium carbonate. Do not use on acid loving plants like tomatoes, roses or peppers.
Vinegar – for acid loving plants. Water first then use a tablespoon to a gallon of water every few months.
Banana – provides potassium for aiding flowering and fruiting. Just plant the peel near the roots of the plant.
There you have it. Everyday items you have around the house or apartment can help fertilize your container garden.