Once you have decided what plants that you would like to place in your garden planters and containers, then you will need to get the container soil ready for each pot. When working with potting mix, always make sure that the mix is moistened before getting started.
There are a few methods to ensure that the potting soil is pre-moistened and ready for your planters. Firstly, this one we call the wheelbarrow method. Place all of your potting mix into the garden cart and then add plenty of water. With your trowel or spade, make sure that the soil is very moist. You can tell when you can make a fist with the soil and it will hold its shape. The soil will then be a dark brown in color and this rich, moist soil is ready for your containers.
The second method, and this takes a little longer, is to fill your large planters, pots and containers with the dry potting soil. Then run water into the mix, making sure that the soil does not run over the top, and let it stand. In a few hours, the potting mix will be well dampened and you can moisten again when you are ready to plant. This method works well when you want to place the containers on your deck, patio or in the garden before you get down to planting.
Thirdly, and this is what we cal the “in-the-bag method”, carry the bag of potting soil to your containers. Cut a hole in the top of the bag for your hose and also in the bottom of the bag to let out the excess water. Then place the hose in the bag and run the water through. Once the soil is very damp, leave the bag overnight to ensure that the water is all absorbed before you will your pots. Then open the bag, stir the soil and gently water again if it has dried out before use.
If you wish to add water retention material to your soil mixes, the time to do this would be before you dampen the soil either in the wheelbarrow or in the container itself. There are also slow release fertilizers available, the best time to add these granules would be before dampening the soil mix as well.
When your potting soil is ready, fill the containers to one to two inches from the top. Fill your containers with those beautiful plants and then gently firm down the soil. Water thoroughly and you’re all set.
Regular fertilizing is a must especially in plant-packed containers. All of your material is fighting for those nutrients. Feed your containers at least once a week with water soluble balanced fertilizer or every time you water.
One last word to ensure your containers always look their best. At the beginning of the season, pinch back your herbs and those plants that tend to branch out to encourage fuller growth. Then regularly pinch back to keep them compact and to encourage growth where you want it.
Remove flowers as they fade to keep your planters and containers looking fresh. Use sharp shears when cutting back. Groom your containers often to remove any dead leaves, damaged foliage and to check for any pest problems before they become big problems.
Now you have beautiful planters, containers and window boxes. Enjoy!