I’m a fan of container plants. I’ll give you several reasons why in a minute. But first, I will start with a story about the most obvious reason: Planted containers add an immediate pop of color wherever they are placed. A friend in the horticulture business figured that out pretty quickly. No, she doesn’t sell beautifully composed containers (well, sometimes). She rents them to people! She plants containers of all different sizes, color themes and styles and loans them out for weddings and outside gatherings of all kinds. When the party is over, she picks up the pots, takes them back to her holding area for continued care and awaits the next event.
Reasons For Container Gardening
Okay, that wasn’t much of a story, but I think her business idea is genius. And as promised, here are my reasons container plants—whether they are flowers or fruits and veggies—are such good things:
Instant pop of color. A patio or deck with just a few chairs and a table is just a functional space. Add plants and you add color, beauty and a natural element that enlivens the area.
A pot of surprise. The blue-greens of kale, ruby reds of chard stems and the frills of dill are fun ways to add color, texture and a bit of surprise among the usual shapes and colors of annual flowers. Most veg are quite leafy, adding a textural foliage component to the container
Garden where you don’t have one. A container gives you gardening space where you have no actual in-ground space to grow flowers and veg. This allows people in condos or urban areas to grow fresh food and beautiful flowers in any outdoor space they have access to.
Easy access. Your vegetable garden is at the back of your property and you don’t want to trudge all that way for a handful of basil for the sauce or tomatoes for the salad. Grow your go-to herbs and veggies closer to your kitchen in containers.
Fool the insects. I’ve had issues with certain insects devouring my edibles before I’ve had a chance to harvest. Combining them with flowers and placing them on a patio has limited insect access to my edibles, and the flowers attract beneficial insects to help out in the garden. Not to mention, soil-inhabiting pests are not a problem if using fresh Container Blend potting soil each season
They move. Unless they are monster-sized pots, you can move containers if the need arises; e.g. move them if a storm is coming, or if you need more space for a dinner party on the deck.
Fertilizing Your Container Plants
Combination containers look their best when they are cared for with proper watering and fertilizing. Their underground growing space is finite and can hold only so much water and nutrition for the plants. Start them off right at planting time by mixing in a fertilizer along with the Container Blend soil. We like to recommend the Insect Frass Fertilizer, a 3-2-2 vegan fertilizer from Organic Mechanics.
Wait, what’s insect frass? Well, it’s the excrement of insect larvae—and in Organic Mechanics’ case, from crickets and mealworms. Frass contains all sorts of beneficial nutrients, and if you’d like to know more about the science of frass, you can read this article from Nature or this article on sustainable protein alternatives and frass from Frontiers.
Insect Frass Fertilizer can be used both as a dry ingredient and as a foliar spray:
As a soil amendment: Add ½-1 cup of Insect Frass Fertilizer per 1 cu.ft. of potting soil. You can top dress (i.e. sprinkle the container’s soil surface) with the fertilizer 3-4 weeks after planting for an additional boost.
As a foliar spray: Soak ½-cup Insect Frass Fertilizer per 1 gal. water in a watering can for up to two hours to make what we call an insect frass infusion (a.k.a. “compost tea”). Use this frass infusion to water your containers throughout the growing season. Foliar sprays of any kind are best applied in the early morning or evening hours, or on cloudy days to allow the nutrients time to soak in before the water evaporates. When foliar feeding, apply until the mixture drips off the plant. Be sure to get up and under the leaves, as well, taking care not to be too rough with the plant branches. Being gentle is best.
It’s prime time to hit the garden centers for the flowers and veg that’ll make your patios and decks look fabulous. And for once, we’re actually calling on the insects to help keep them looking beautiful all season long!
Not finding Organic Mechanics Insect Frass Fertilizer at your local store? Ask them to carry it, and pick up a couple of bags HERE in the meantime.