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Posts Tagged ‘indoor gardening’

Container Garden Drainage

In one twenty-minute thunderstorm, all the planters and seedling holders I had outdoors filled with water. Some potted seedlings floated and tipped sideways. Had I not spent ten minutes draining things, roots might have drowned. Without drainage holes, your container garden poses unecessary challenges.

When I’m not in my small kitchen garden, I spend a significant amount of time browsing the Internet to see what other people are saying about gardening. A few weeks ago, I read an article about container gardening that made my jaw drop. The author poo-pooed putting drainage holes in your containers. I don’t recall his exact words, but this represents the gist:

It seems most people tell you to put drainage holes in the bottoms of your planters. You don’t have to. Go ahead and try planting without drainage holes and you’ll see what I mean.

I hope this author thought that everyone growing plants in containers does so indoors. Then his observation is valid: you really don’t need drainage holes for containers that you maintain indoors. You can control how much water you give your plants, and add more only when the soil is dry; with little effort, you can master watering whether your pots include drainage holes or they retain every drop of water you pour into them.

17 days ago, I cut the top off a soda bottle, punched drainage holes in the bottom, added soil, and planted 11 carrot seeds. Things are coming along fine. While carrots will withstand a light frost, I’ve kept my planter indoors; we’ve had four unseasonably cold nights this May with another on the way. I’ll move the planter outdoors tomorrow.

Container Gardening Outdoors

If you plant in containers outdoors, make sure there are drainage holes in the containers. This is imperative. A single rainstorm can dump many inches of water on every surface. A planter without drainage can capture all that water, and end up overflowing. Depending on what and how you’ve planted, this can be very bad for your plants.

For example, a recently-repotted plant in light soil could float to the surface of the pot and then fall out. A heavy rain can wash much of the soil out of a pot. Perhaps worse: once saturated by a heavy rain, a pot without drainage will hold water that can drown a plant’s roots, encourage the growth of algae and mold, or provide an inviting environment for bacteria that will cause your plant to rot.

Over the weekend, we had a twenty minute downpour that filled some of my planting containers with three inches of water. It was an awesome powerful rain. Many of my potted seedlings sat in that rain. They are still in peat pots, inside of food-storage containers intended to protect my ping-pong table when the seedlings were inside under lights. After the rain, I spent ten minutes draining water from the containers and topping several up with soil (much soil had floated away on the rainwater).

If your small kitchen garden is outdoors in containers, make sure the containers have drainage holes, or heavy rains could destroy your produce.

Here are other articles about container gardening that you might find useful:

  • Which Plants are Best for a Container Garden? – by Sarah Duke. Container gardening is a very easy way to get fresh produce with very little effort. A wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit can be grown in pots. Herbs are the most popular, followed by vegetables. …

  • re: grow your own food – you also might think about container gardening. my mom doesn’t want to be bothered with a whole garden and grows just a few tomato plants in pots on the carport. it works great. copy and paste the following url for a fact sheet on …


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