If you love to garden, you will take any measures to make sure you have fresh flowers or vegetables every summer. The idea of going a summer without planting your colorful and dependable zinnia seeds or enjoying freshly picked homegrown tomatoes is unacceptable. This becomes a real challenge if you find yourself in an urban environment, in a location with minimal sun or about to move to a new location. How can you garden under these circumstances? The answer is: your garden must be portable.
Here are a few mobile garden bed ideas for you to scratch that green-thumb-itch.
1. Raised Beds for Low Light Areas
Raised garden beds are the solution if you have minimal sun. Even if you live in the woods, the area around your home and the driveway are open areas that let in the sun. Build or purchase table height raised beds. These are basically a box with legs. Some come on wheels, or you can add the wheels to the bottom of the legs. Now you can move the garden with the sun across your driveway or patio. This can also be a solution for the person who may be moving. Just wheel your garden up into the moving van and relocate it in your new home, Renters may like this idea also. They may not want to invest in raised beds on the ground that have to be left behind or the landlord may object to garden beds where there is currently lawn.
2. Polystyrene Boxes for Easy Mobility
The advantage of these containers is they are lightweight and strong. There are coolers made from polystyrene for keeping drinks cold, but they also are used for shipping medical supplies like insulin. Often, these are available for free. Check online marketplaces for people getting rid of these containers.
3. Use Containers
Any clean container will work as long as it is large enough. By large enough, think about the size of the plant when full grown, both height and width. The root system will be about the same. The size of the container determines the amount of soil the plant will grow in. This is its source of nutrients it needs. A cucumber planted in a soup can might survive, but it is unlikely to produce any cucumbers. Also, a beautiful pot is worth the investment if this will be a permanent situation — but if it is a temporary situation until you move, a 5-gallon bucket will be perfect, inexpensive and make your tomato very happy. Lettuce is smaller and has smaller roots, so it will be happy in a container like a window box.
Remember that any vining plant needs to grow on a trellis or cage that is as portable as the container itself. Check out garden supplies for cages or stakes that will fit your container. The biggest advantage of containers is they are portable and they can fit anywhere including fire escape stairs or a small balcony. You can also purchase rolling risers for your containers to wheel them anywhere you want them to go.
4. Basket Gardens
Baskets can be another portable option to grow in. Line the basket and add soil. Baskets are a great choice for herbs like basil, mint or chives. Plant the shorter varieties of marigold or zinnia seeds. These are easy to grow and will look beautiful growing in a basket.
5. Hanging Containers
While hanging plants are usually flowers, don’t be afraid to grow vegetables, too. This could be a great way to find sun in a shady area. The hanging pots are completely portable, making them a good choice for the renter or a person who needs to relocate.
Once you have your containers or your raised beds, the next step is soil. Your container soil will give you one good year of growing, which is enough if this is a temporary situation. However, if you intend to use your portable gardens year after year, you need to have a good soil ecosystem. Start with organic soil and mix it with organic fertilizer. Follow the directions on the fertilizer for the amount of fertilizer to soil ratio. Don’t overdo the fertilizer. It won’t help your plants and could actually hurt them. If there is a local source of organic compost, add that to your soil mix, too.
Then, be sure that your containers have some drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. If there aren’t any holes, you can make some with a lightweight cordless drill. Add the soil and you are ready to plant your seeds or seedlings. Remember not to overcrowd your plants. Only one tomato should be planted in a 5-gallon bucket.
When you have your garden set up, you will need to water regularly. This can be done by using a watering can or a hose and watering each container. This is a labor-intensive project that will need to be done daily or even twice a day through the summer. Take care to keep water off the foliage as much as possible. Wet foliage is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. The water should be directed onto the soil, not the foliage.
A better option is an automatic watering system. Purchase a system that allows you to run a line off the hose to soak each pot individually with water to the soil. This keeps the water where it is needed and efficiently waters each container. In addition, the system can be on a timer that automatically turns the water on for a prescribed time each day or you can manually turn the water on and off.
You can grow most vegetables, herbs and flowers in containers. When planting vegetables, make use of your container by planting things that have a long harvest time or give repeat harvests. These include lettuce, which will keep producing if you cut it off, or tomatoes, beans and cucumbers. Root crops are not the best choice, as once they are harvested, you have an empty container. If you are determined to grow your favorite beets, follow them with a fall crop of lettuce or spinach in the same container. Also look for vegetables that include the word patio in their name. These are smaller versions of the plant that are developed specifically for the container garden.