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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Pot Gardening Tips from the Pros

Apr 29, 2022 08:30AM ● By Maya Whitman
Plant growing in pot

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From Melinda Myers, author of Small Space Gardening:

Mulch the containers. Covering the soil with an organic mulch like evergreen needles and shredded leaves helps conserve moisture and suppress weeds until the plants cover the soil surface.

Use a slow-release, eco-friendly fertilizer. Incorporate it into pots at planting and if needed, make a second application mid-season. It’s a lot easier than applying a fast-release product every week or two.

Incorporate organic wool pellets into the potting mix to reduce watering up to 25 percent and add air space, nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

Tips on Types of Pots:

Terra cotta pots are heavy and tend to dry out faster. 

Glazed ceramic pots hold water for long periods and are available in a variety of shapes and colors. Both should be moved indoors for the winter. 

Plastic pots come in a variety of colors, are lightweight and can often be left outdoors. 

Fiberglass is lightweight, pricey and designed to be left outdoors year-round. 

Metal is usually not a problem for northern gardeners and are quite trendy. 

More information on galvanized steel safety.


From Lisa Hilgenberg, Chicago Botanic Garden horticulturist:

Climbing plants: Growing plants vertically is a great way to save space and add an architectural aesthetic to a container kitchen garden. Select a trellis to accommodate the type of climber. Peas and beans climb using tendrils that grow best around a thin fishing line netting; they won’t stay secure to an iron trellis. Some vining plants need help climbing, so they will need to be tied onto bamboo poles. 

Melons: The minimum diameter container is 12 inches for watermelon, provided it’s a smaller stature, bush-type cultivar. Generally, watermelons produce two melons per plant if they are provided with highly fertile, well-drained soils. Muskmelons can be trellised in pots. Apply organic fertilizer three times during the melon plant’s growth: when the vines begin to run, when the first
flowers appear and after the first harvest.


From author Mark Ridsdill Smith

Seasonal favorites: 

Spring: new potatoes, kale, mangetout snow peas (edible pods)

Summer: tomatoes, chilies, climbing French beans, Japanese wineberry

Fall: arugula, kale, chard, apples


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Read the full August 2022 Magazine