Crazy for Containers

Last week I finally finished filling all of my containers! Yippee! It was a strange, slow tedious process. I think I have accumulated at least 35 containers in my attempt to compensate for my lack of gardening space. I began my quest by bugging friends and family for their unused gardening containers.

I would scope out abandoned containers and shamelessly inquire about them. You know, the ones that they had acquired from last year when they were gifted a weary unsuspecting hibiscus tree or that giant poinsettia, both of which to soon suffer an early demise. I often visited estate and garage sales and found great deals on these once loved treasures.

Estate Sale find total cost with plants $4.00

In the end I purchased many and bummed a few. So when the time came to fill these puppies I soon realized it could cost a pretty penny. So what does one do when they are short on cash and large on expenses? Well, honestly I had no plan. Most of my season planning surrounded my raised beds and the large half-barrel whisky containers I’d be using strictly for tomatoes and peppers. As for my smaller containers, I had not figured out what I was going to fill them with.

Being that my raised bed mix was quite expensive (it consists a 1/3 of perlite, 1/3 top soil and 1/3 good organic compost) I estimate that I  spent roughly $35.00 filling just the four whiskey barrels. This is a huge cost when we consider that I can’t use the same soil for these containers next year.

Many tomato varieties need to be rotated at least every two years to avoid tomato wilting diseases such as Verticillium or Fusarium wilt. I have been rotating mine yearly. 


It quickly became apparent that I needed a plan B potting mixture. Luckily, I stumbled across a bag of Black Gold organic potting soil on sale at my local DeRonnes True Value Hardware for just $3.50 a bag!

Choosing organic mixes with fertilizers can save time and money.

With just one 2 cu ft bag I could fill at least 4 of my medium sized containers and who knows how many of the smaller ones. Sorry… I did not keep track. I quickly grabbed as much potting soil as I could afford and stocked up! So far I am pretty satisfied with the results. These containers consist mostly of plastic pots with great drainage holes, and a few ceramic and terra cotta ones. For the plastic ones I always add a few extra holes at the bottom to assist with the drainage as you can never have too good of drainage. The other pots I just make sure they have a large enough hole at the bottom before buying as trying to drill in pottery could be damaging. For versatility I have staggered the sizes, colors and locations through-out my small yard making several nice displays. In these pots I have planted many experimental items such as; colorful purple bush beans, rainbow carrots and vibrant eggplants. I even decided to experiment with a hanging basket to see if I could get some cherry tomatoes to grow in it.

For herbs I’ve used mostly long window box type containers placing them along my patio edging and also some smaller containers, tucked in obscure places or between larger pots.


Containers have become a great way for gardeners to extend their garden space but keeping them watered properly can be challenging. They often need to be watered daily and when temperatures rise in the summer sometimes twice.

Well, thats enough for now. Time to go out and plan me a nice garden party!

Your’s Sporadically,

Top Shelf Gardener