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    How to Choose the Perfect Soil & Plants for Your Container Garden

    You can create a container garden with little space or budget – we shared how to find the best spot and types of containers. In this Part II of our Start a Container Garden Series: we’ll share how to choose soil & plants.

    Picking the Perfect Soil for Container Gardens

    Soil can be expensive. But organic, local soil is a worthy investment for the sake of your plants.

    Woody Wilson and Anthony Bottiglieri (part I) both swear by compost. Bottiglieri says that at Urban Jungle they like to mix compost with organic soils from local companies like Organic Mechanics. Wilson adds that coconut coir or vermiculite help to keep the soil mix light. Also, the Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center allows Philadelphia residents to obtain a gallon of compost free of charge.

    Consider starting you own compost with kitchen scraps and yard waste. Unsure where to start? There are guides online like Tyler Weaver’s Crazy about Compost.

    How to Select the Perfect Plants

    perfect plants for container garden

    When choosing plants, research water, light, and temperature conditions each type requires. If your garden location gets less sun,  choose a shade plant like sage. If you have a sunny locale, select “full sun” plants like basil or tomatoes. This helpful guide shares different herbs and best atmospheres.

    Different plants also need different soil depths. For example, lettuce and other salad greens grow better in shallow depths of 4-5 inches of soil. Plants like summer squash and beets need much deeper containers with 10-12inches of soil.

    When asked about plants he recommends for container gardens Wilson picked greens. “Greens – spinach, leaf lettuce, head lettuce, arugula, Kale, and chard –  grow well in most conditions. They do not use a large amount of the soil’s nutrients. Spinach, salad, and arugula do not like to be hot, so put the container in the shade.”

    Other recommendations from Wilson? “Radishes are also an easy and inexpensive crop for beginners. Herbs are also very easy to grow, though their transplants are slightly more expensive. Basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, mint are all good in containers.”

    Bottiglieri also advised beginner gardeners to “become expert on a few plants to start. Make sure you know what you’ve bought and how to take care of it.”

    To save money, consider that many vegetables and herbs are low-cost and high-yield like tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce, arugula, mint, and basil. Swapping or bartering with neighbors for seeds and plants is also a great way to build your local gardening network and save cash.

    Marie Bouffard

    About Marie Bouffard

    Marie is a senior at Villanova University studying communication and sustainability. She lives for hiking, camping, skiing, and any outdoor activity. Marie is a coffee addict, loves reading, and has never met a cat or dog she didn't like.

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