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Effingham Magazine

Setting Up a Self-Sustaining Container Garden

Setting Up a Self-Sustaining Container Garden

By Claire Sandow


Container gardens are a great way to start a garden, especially if you don’t have a lot of space. You can grow many of the same herbs and vegetables that you would grow in an in-ground plot with the convenience of containers that can be placed in the optimal spots in your yard. A container garden with an automatic drip irrigation system can turn an apartment balcony, porch or any area into a mini self-sustaining farm.

To get started, you’ll need to collect your containers. An economical way to get started is to check with stores for free 5-gallon buckets. You’ll have to clean them out and drill some drainage holes into the bottom, but they’ll keep your upfront expenses down. You can also use raised beds, window boxes or a collection of fun flowerpots. Just collecting pots and decorating them is fun for the whole family!

You’ll also need potting soil, which is a blend of organic materials that will set your garden up for success and drain water properly. Some have added fertilizers that will help your plants thrive.   

Then, select your plants. What produce does your family like to eat? Plant leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to have a ready-made salad or some herbs like basil, mint or rosemary to add seasoning to your cooking.

All these plants need water to thrive. Some, like tomatoes, need lots of water whereas other types of vegetables may only need a little water.  While you can water them by hand, you can save time by using a sprinkler system or setting up an irrigation system. An automatic drip irrigation system can be set up with timers to ensure that your plants get the water they need when they need it most and with the hot conditions that we face in Effingham County, this is a must!

Once you’ve got your supplies, you can plant your dream garden and feed your family fresh produce. The garden can become a family project where kids can be involved with planting, harvesting and preparing the vegetables to eat.

To learn more about the types of plants that do best in our region and how to care for them, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service is a valuable resource. Their website is filled with great information about plant care, pest identification, a general calendar of when to plant certain crops and more.

Ready to grow? Head to a local nursery like Ebenezer Rose & Garden Nursery or Ijon Webb’s Farm Supply in Springfield and start exploring your options.