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Low-Maintenance Container Gardens for Busy People

Containers can be planted in spring, summer or fall. Low-maintenance container gardens are perfect for busy people who want to grow their own food but lack a lot of time to maintain a garden. As you consider planting containers, first consider how much time you have.

How Much Time do You Have for Gardening?

Free time. What’s that?

If you meet yourself coming and going, but really want to try growing your own food, start with lettuce. It’s easy to grow in a container, requires almost no maintenance, is simple to harvest, and thrives in cool weather or in partial sun in the summer.

In a 12 to 24 inch planter, fill to about 2 inches below the rim with high-quality potting soil (I like this organic option from Gardener's Supply). Lightly sprinkle leaf lettuce seeds on top of the soil, about one inch apart, and cover with about 1/4 inch of soil. Water well. Place the planter in full sun, and water when the soil is dry one inch below the surface. Some attractive container options include railing planters and hanging planters.

I have a minute or two

For those who have a few luxurious minutes and would like to spend some of it outside, herbs are a great choice to add to the lettuce crop. The nice thing about herbs is that, once established, they can be brought indoors in a sunny spot for fresh winter eating.

Cilantro, parsley, and basil all thrive in these cooler days. In one medium to large planter (14” or larger) or several smaller ones, sprinkle seeds with the same spacing as lettuce, and cover lightly with soil and water thoroughly. Place in full sun. Once seedlings are four inches tall, thin to 4”-6” between plants, or one per small planter.

One more project? Bring it on!

Those who have more free time and a desire to really start growing food for their family, should consider adding broccoli to the container garden. Even after the main head is harvested, the plant will continue to produce yummy side shoots, like mini-broccolis, past the first freeze of the season.

Seeds can be sewn in 14” planters by digging a ½” hole and dropping in 3 seeds. Water well. Once the seedlings are 4” tall, thin to one per container. Broccoli prefers partial shade so if you have a spot on the deck or porch with only a few hours of sun, consider growing broccoli there.

Regardless of your schedule, you can grow something in low-maintenance container gardens for busy people. And don’t forget to get those kids involved! Many studies are coming out proving that children are more likely to eat their veggies when they are included in the growth process.

What is your favorite container plant?


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