Pots and planters are a great way of growing produce in areas with no soil. Apartments, courtyards, balconies and roof terraces can all be turned into gardens with a few suitable pots or containers. For those with gardens, pots create a further, flexible planting opportunity and are a great way of temporarily accessing a sunny corner of a deck for a few months to grow summer herbs or tomatoes. They can also be very useful in winter for bringing a few herbs and salads close to the kitchen door when wild weather makes other parts of the garden too wet to work or walk on. Pots can be a pleasing sight and can become a part of the visual enjoyment you get from your garden. There are options from recycled plastic tubs and high-end custom made containers to suit every garden.
Pots become fairly heavy when they are filled with soil so take your time to get their position right before you go ahead and plant them up. If you are putting them on a roof, balcony or deck and they are large or in significant numbers then you might want to check with a builder or structural engineer that their weight will not damage any structures. On a deck or stone terrace pots should be raised on small blocks to lift them off the surface because otherwise moisture will gather beneath them and stain the deck or stone surface. You can help give your garden a sense of good order with rows of similar pots planted with a formal, repetitive selection of plants. Alternatively you can loosen things up and use sporadic types of pot and container with a varied collection of different plants.
When choosing your pots make sure they are large enough for the plants you want to plant in them. Most salads and herbs don’t need too much soil and can even be grown in a standard bucket with a few drainage holes drilled in the bottom. Tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and zucchini all grow well in containers but need larger pots with a good volume of soil to store and provide adequate nutrients and moisture. Citrus and olive trees can be grown in half wine barrels – these can end up looking pretty smart. Pots can be grouped together in one or two areas to make watering, feeding and caring for plants easier. In summer, when they are grouped together like this, pots will help to insulate one another - keeping soil cool and moist. In winter, the opposite happens and a group of pots will all help to insulate each other against frost in cooler areas. Pots need regular watering as they do not hold large enough quantities of soil to hold moisture for any length of time when weather is dry. Gross feeders like tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines especially need regular feeding when planted in pots – again thanks to the comparatively small amount of soil they get to grow in.