Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Better Drainage for Container Gardens and Beds

In case you're planting up a storm these days, I thought I would pass along a tip a kindly, more experienced gardener shared with me. Most pots and containers have lousy drainage. And many people overwater when they're starting out. If you have soggy plants, they may rot. So grab a drill like I did this morning (CBoy was so thrilled! Trucks, heavy equipment, mud puddles, and power tools in one morning?!) and get started.

If you're smart, you will do this before you fill up your planter, but if you're like me and can only get to things when a certain tiny person will allow them to happen, don't worry, you can still do it. Plastic pots take a regular drill bit. Ceramic pots need a special drill bit, so don't head outside unless you've got one. Aim for about 6-8 holes, evenly spaced around the bottom of your pot. If you've already planted, this one is too late, but next time throw a bunch of gravel or rocks at the bottom of the planter as well to improve drainage.

If you have a garden bed that's flooded (like our sad, sad, formerly hoped-for peas-broccoli-and-arugula lake), a guy in the community garden this morning suggested the following: separate those perfectly-joined boards at the edge of the plot to allow for better drainage. Sometimes, you just need a stranger to point out the obvious! Nice guy that he was, he tactfully suggested this path when I inquired about which plants might thrive in rice-paddy conditions.

For water retention, a tip on the package of my new upside-down tomato planter (cool, huh? for our deck) made me smile: water it with soapy water to help the soil and roots retain water. Sounds like a case for graywatering if I've ever heard one!

Hope you're having lots of rain as well for your gardens, and that your plants are sprouting! And any and all gardening advice is welcome here.




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8 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This sounds like a perfect job for Mr. Fix-it--he's very handy with a drill. Sadly, we are in serious drought here.

BipolarLawyerCook said...

Thank you. I am actually going to start some container gardens this weekend! I bought most of the dirt & containers already-- just have to go to the nursery now.

Gray Matters said...

I am heading out today to get some containers to plant some cutting flowers - thanks for the tips!

eco 'burban mom said...

And, if you are stuck with a ceramic pot and no drill bits, try filling the bottom of the pot with gravel type rocks - about 2" high. Not perfect, but will help to allow water to drain down. And not as much fun for little boys who like drills... :o)

Susannah said...

I thought I had waaaay too many seedlings for my tiny garden until the rains came and drowned half of the first batch (and I think I just lost half of the second batch). I'm experimenting with sunflowers planted in a whiskey barrel -- think it will work or am I tempting the Topple-over Fates?

MamaBird said...

EGirl just 'weeded' 1/2 of our edible flower seedlings (we'll call it early thinning) if that makes you feel any better. re: toppling, I think it's a separate issue that you can deal with by staking your sunflowers, if I am following you. You will see if you need to thin them out - they won't thrive heightwise - which may be ok if it's just height and you keep density of flowers. Speaking of toppling, have you seen the huge tree that fell down by the woods? So sad...

Lisa said...

You reminded me of the drilling of holes one week too late. I did it to my large planters last year, but have bought 3 more and filled them and totally forgot about that. So, now I just need to pray that I get lucky with my new herb garden planters. Shoot.

However, the rest of my garden is starting to peak up over the dirt, very exciting!

Tech Savvy Mama said...

After realizing that I had rice paddies forming in my containers after our first rainstorm (when was that, like 3 wks ago???), I sent my visting father who is always in need of a project to solve the drainage problems with my pots. He did a great job. Thanks Dad!