Now is a great time for container gardening

Published 12:36 pm Monday, September 4, 2023

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by Tana Shealey

Lowndes County Extension Coordinator

Because of oppressively high temperatures this month, some are avoiding the heat of the outdoors and missing working in their gardens. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) helped some Hayneville residents begin their gardens while sitting in a cool, comfortable indoor workspace.

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Regional Extension Agent Mallory Kelley, and Master Gardener Intern Lea Ingram instructed about two dozen residents on creating container gardens of fall flowers and vegetables during a free class on August 28th at the Hayneville Senior Center.

Ingram is a Lowndes County resident participating in the Master Gardener program. 

“Face-to-face sessions for the Fall 2023 Master Gardener Volunteer training are hosted in the following counties: Bibb, Blount, Coffee, Elmore, Etowah, Franklin, Mobile, Limestone, Pike, Russell, and Walker,” said Kerry Smith, Horticulture Outreach Programs Administrator. 

“If you live outside these counties, you may be able to participate in the Fall training. However, travel is required,” Smith added.

There is also a program available for residents who want to learn more about gardening without volunteering hours of community service. That program is called Garden U. “This course is offered online only and taught by Alabama Extension agents and specialists. Classes include research-based gardening information on topics such as home lawns, trees, shrubs, annual and perennial flowers, and vegetable gardening,” Smith said.                                              

Kelley teaches the Master Gardener and Garden U programs, plus she holds classes about gardening in small spaces. Raised bed and container gardening is very popular.

“Using a container means that the garden can be moved to different locations in a yard. It also means that there is no digging into tough soil to get land ready for planting,” Kelley said. 

There are many cool season crops that do not require a lot of space that can be grown in pots or buckets. 

“You can grow cabbage, kale, Rainbow Swiss Chard, broccoli, lettuce, onions, or garlic in containers. You can plant them right next to fall flowers,” Kelly said.

Kelley says it is important to make sure the containers have holes in them to prevent water from pooling, and gardeners need to add fertilizer to the soil used in the containers.

Hayneville Senior Center manager Mary Edwards said residents enjoyed the class.

“They really had a good time,” Edwards said. “Gardening can be difficult for some of our clients especially when it is so hot outside. With containers, they can make up their planters inside and someone can move them outdoors.”

Kelly agreed that is one of the benefits of container gardening, “With containers, gardeners can move them to different locations, and there are few weeds that grow in the containers if mulch is applied.”

Participants in the free gardening program received all containers and plants at no cost. For more information about Extension gardening programs, please call (334)548-2315.