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So I have a little itty bitty yard this summer.. and HUGE aspirations of a magnificent container garden.  However, I've learned from summers past that before I run out and spend all of my grocery money for the next couple months on containers and potting mixes and grow lamps, it's best to look into all my options.

First off, feel free to give any and all suggestions about container gardens from your own experiences.  I am an enthusiastic amateur.  I need all the help I can get.

Secondly, does anyone have a recommendation for good all-around potting mix that is not too expensive and works for the usual tomato-cucumber-bean-all-around sort of range?  I know one type can't meet every plant's most ideal environment, but I'll settle for decent.  I also have access to a composted manure mix, and I'm wondering how high a ratio I can use of that in my mix.

Thirdly, self watering?  I know they make containers designed to do this, but I'm wondering if it can be as simple a matter of placing the right dish under a pot with holes in the right places to at least get a plant through a couple drier days...

This last question is getting far ahead of myself but... I found myself wondering the other day- what does one do with all the potting soil at the end of the season?  As I mentioned above, I have only a tiny little yard area surrounded by neighbors, so there isn't any sort of dump site.  But must it be dumped?  I'm assuming that by the end of a season the nutrients are mostly leached from the soil, but is it worth saving the remainder and reviving it with some compost and nutrients for the next year?

Again, all input much appreciated!

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Replies to This Discussion

Do NOT dump that potting soil! Peat is already pretty unsustainable, and its so upsetting to think about how many people toss it out. The main concern with reusing potting soil is that if the soil gets diseased your plants will be contaminated again next year. I've read online about pasteurizing soil in the oven on low heat, or if you're. In a warm area you might be able to put the soil in a black garbage bag in the sun to heat it enough. I have a friend who got her Masters degree in soil who starts seedlings in straight compost, but I've never done it myself and if your compost isn't well balanced it might not work? I usually scavenge potting soil from old office plants, gift plants people don't want anymore, etc.

Containers can be anything! Try looking on the free section of Craigslist and get creative. Try herbs, lettuces, and miniature varieties of veggies instead of full grown tomatoes or dukes.

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