A Guide to Container Gardening in Calgary

Growing flowers and vegetables in containers is as old as dirt, still, there are fresh ways to go about it. From how to be bolder and plant smarter, to the wonders of worm poop, here’s how to get growing (in pots) this season.

Illustration by Lynn Scurfield.

Along with solving the ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book series (the answer is 42, of course), the late Douglas Adams asks readers to ponder another existential question: “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it, too?”

Heck yes! Who needs magic, when cultivating a container garden in Calgary — whether for tasty veggies or pretty flowers or some combination of both — is so easy? That’s right, I said easy. Toss aside everything you’ve been told about the futility of our climate zone 4A growing (a fairly recent bump up from our previous 3B designation), and stay with me on this.

Container gardening is defined as, well, gardening in a container. While ceramic, clay, metal and plastic pots are most common, just about anything from an old bucket to an abandoned bath- tub will do. As long it’s filled with soil and sports a drainage hole in the bottom, your circa-2013 Nike Air Foamposite sneaker qualifies as a garden container (certainly, there is no better use for that shoe). Either way, corralling your garden in pots is no longer perceived as a consolation prize for folks without yards; rather, container gardening and related products occupy an increasingly large territory in gardening centres as an elegant, practical and bountiful answer to maximizing both food production and ornamental drama on any scale.

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