Plants can be grown in sacks, old kitchen sinks or anything that can hold soil, writes Thilaka Baskaran

Space for a garden isn't always easy to come by for city dwellers. But there is a way to overcome this predicament: create your garden through containers. Any space available in your home will do: a rooftop, balcony or drive way.

What you can grow in these spaces depends upon sunlight available and upon your requirement. For instance, if you want to add an ornamental touch to your verandah, there is no better way than to group together potted plants, in colours of green and brown, and the place is transformed.

And if there is enough space, you can grow a surprising number of vegetables and herbs also. A container garden gives you the advantage of mobility. You can control the impact of climate by shifting the containers to shade or a sunny spot. It is also easier to check pests and provide ideal soil conditions.

From cement sacks to discarded kitchen sinks, plants can be grown in virtually anything that can hold the soil. However, an attractive container adds a lot to the appearance. Terracotta and plastic pots are the most commonly used containers. Remember cheap plastic pots deteriorate fast in sunlight. The containers you choose would depend on the plant you propose to grow in it. Shallow-rooted plants like spinach, lettuce, radish and herbs don't need a depth of more than 20 cm. The ideal planting medium should allow quick drainage, but also have a capacity to retain water so that the roots are kept moist. Potting mixtures like a combination of cocopeat, vermicompost, with a handful of bone and fish meal work well. This mixture is light in weight and less prone to weeds and diseases.

Fill the bottom of the container with 3 cm of gravel for drainage and leave a 5 cm space between the top of the soil and the brim of the container. Set the large containers in which you grow vegetables on a platform — such as bricks — about 5 cm above the ground. This will ensure easy drainage.

Nutrients needed

Potted plants have restricted root zone from which to obtain nutrients. So they should be provided nutrients fortnightly.

Another critical element for successful container gardening is regular and careful watering. Remember plants in pots rely entirely on the water you provide. And when the potting mix dries out, the plant stops growing. While watering, soak the plant thoroughly; do not merely sprinkle on the surface. With a little imagination and ingenuity a lot of growing space can be obtained by container gardening, adding colour and life to your home. And bring a supply of fresh vegetables for your table.

Keywords: gardens

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