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Plant flowers, vegetables in small spaces

Small space? No problem, said Pam Bennett, Ohio State University Extension horticulture educator and director in Clark County.

Apartment dwellers or those with a small backyard can still grow their own flowers and vegetables as long as they choose the right plant and place it in the right location, said Bennett, who is also the statewide Master Gardener Volunteer Program coordinator.

Small landscapes, like a small backyard in the city or a patio, can still yield homegrown bounty as long as the grower uses the right container, soil, water, nutrients and pest controls, Bennett said.

“Small space gardening is a big trend right now for many reasons,” she said. “It allows ease of access and maintenance, it’s close to the house, it offers efficient planting and pest control, and it allows growers to start earlier in the season.

“Small space container gardening also allows growers to have control over soil with no compaction issues, and it allows growers to make use of the space they have to enjoy fresh vegetables.”

To get started, Bennett said:
• Determine want you want to plant and the amount of space you need to grow it.

• Choose the right container, making sure that it has drainage holes in the bottom. You don’t want water sitting in the bottom of the pot.

• Next, choose the right soil. Use a mix for potting or containers. Soil right out of the ground is too heavy for container planting.

• Next, make sure you place the plant in the right location for sun exposure. If you are growing vegetables, the plants need at least 8-10 hours of exposure to daily sunlight.

• Look at the size of the plant, taking note of how big it gets in terms of maximum growth. Remember that size is relative. “Dwarf” can mean small, but only in relation to other plants. Read the plant’s package so you know how big it gets.

• Remember to regularly water the plant, as containers can dry out fast.

Container planting doesn’t have to be intimidating, Bennett said.

“Just try it — it doesn’t have to be really expensive,” she said. “You can get an inexpensive clay pot large enough for the plant you are growing, then add potting soil and fertilizer.

“Try starting with one or two plants to get started. Tomatoes are fairly easy to grow in a container — just remember, one tomato plant per pot.”

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