I am a 30-year-old woman who cannot afford to buy her own house and is therefore likely to rent for a very, very long time. I am also a 30-year-old woman who loves gardening. Consequently, I have chosen paving slabs over lawn in every house we have lived in, reason being that you cannot alter what you have and therefore can’t grow anything with a lawn. By having a courtyard or, in our case at the moment, decking, you have the freedom of growing plants and vegetables in pots. I prefer terracotta and glazed pots over plastic, and I look for height by adding ladders, an upturned barrel, or shelves. There are, however, other must-haves in your container garden.
As the likelihood of having a shed is slim, anything big you use to look after your garden might as well be nice to look at. In my case, I like repurposing (see the big pot to the right of the photo) and a vintage aesthetic. Watering cans, ladders, climbing frames. Everything that is going to be on show and cannot be hidden needs to be able to blend in and look part of the garden.
You might not think about this in the colder months, but they will be vital in the summer when you will have to water practically every day. By giving your plant a saucer you are ensuring they will have a reserve of water for those days when you forget. If you have a particularly wet winter, then I suggest to store or flip the saucers as standing water is also detrimental to the plant. You don’t need to purposefully go out and buy saucers – depending on where you go they can be expensive. If you go to a bric-a-brac shop it is likely you’ll find a job-lot of dinner plates or small dishes for cheap. Give those a go if you like a eclectic look.
I store any broken pots and crockery in here or when I pot up new plants. Remember that drainage is important, so placing a couple of crocks covering the hole will do one of 2 things: prevent compost from washing out, or clogging the hole. Sometimes, especially when using big pots that will require help to drain, it’s a good idea to place an inch or so of crocks at the bottom. So don’t worry when the wind rugby-tackles your precious terracotta pot, you can extend its life by giving it another job!
I am guilty of only coming to this recently. If you have never fed your potted plants there will a come a time when either they do not grow with the same vigour as last year, or they look a bit sorry for themselves. If this is the case and you’ve already ensured your plant is getting the water it needs, it is likely it needs food. I hadn’t realised compost only has enough nutrition for an average of 6 weeks! No wonder some of my pots were not performing as well as they should be.
Plant pot feet
With big pots, it is a good idea to invest in some feet to prop them off the floor so water can drain easily. As with saucers, you can find plant pot feet in your local garden centre. However, I found these in a small antiques/bric-a-brac shop that had a gardening section. I always enjoy finding hidden gems away from high street shops as it makes my home feel unique.
We’ve had this butcher’s block since my husband was at university. It has fulfilled different roles in every house we’ve lived in; in this life it is my potting station. I varnished it a dark colour so it would fit in with our furniture, but I also think it blends in well with the red brick. I have some extra pots, some tools and currently I have my verbena cuttings which haven’t died (yet!). I’m sure I can utilise the shelves better, and it is something I am going to work one in the next few months.
Hard bristle broom
You will spill compost on the ground, and you will have a build up of algae or fallen leaves. If you want your space to feel decluttered, sweeping up after yourself makes a difference. It also helps you not to slip and fall on your bottom, but we won’t talk about that today. On a side note, we also use the broom to clear our drive from fallen apples from a tree that does not belong to us. The neighbours are happy that the whole cul-de-sac isn’t full of mush this autumn. And we have a happy landlady. It’s a win-win.
If you have any other must-haves for your container garden, let me know in the comments!