Tools & Resources for the First Time Container Gardener

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I've recently learned gardening makes me happy, both from the process and the results of my efforts. I've been successfully growing my own heirloom tomato plants right outside my apartment in LA in small containers. But whether you grow plants for their lovely flowers or want to harvest edible varieties like my tomatoes, container gardening can yield a fragrant, tasty, and life-affirming presence in and around the home. Here are several tools for maintaining healthy plants, even when space is at a premium...

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Organic container gardening is a great way to manage several plants when space is limited. As an apartment renter without a plot of land to call my own, I've discovered an appropriately sized container filled with rich soil can still sustain many types of ornamentals and edibles. I recommend Rodale's Ultimate Encylcopedia of Organic Gardening (available on Kindle, iPad, and Paperback) as a first download, an encyclopedic guide which offers a wealth of information about creating healthy soils and necessary plant requirements for growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even trees and shrubs. I also recommend the digital book edition over the app for its comprehensiveness and easy to use index. 

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Other books like the New Sunset Western Garden book also provide a digital guilde and reference understanding plant care (this edition is specifically suited for SouthWestern gardeners).

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If you recognize yourself as someone who tends to forget to water their plants regularly, or you are unsure of sunlight conditions in your area, a device like the Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor can be a handy guide for monitoring soil moisture, heat, and light intensity of your favorite plants. Furthermore, Koubachi claims to use smart algorithms developed by top biologists to make sure the species of plant you are monitoring is healthy and properly cared for.


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Indoor self-watering containers like this planter can take on watering duties for up to 2 weeks without adding more water, utilizing a specially formulated granular material which keeps roots fed and aerated.


After completing a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Smart Herb Garden from Click and Grow is slated to ship in October this year. A built-in water tank, well oxygenated soil medium, and LED grow lights allow this modern countertop garden to thrive in even the darkest recesses of your apartment. Other kits for growing ornamental flowers, herbs, and even peppers are available now without the built-in LED lighting.

Not only do plants clean the air in your small apartment dwelling (here are the 13 best air purifying varieties), they can also provide fragrant herbs and vibrant beauty. Just remember, sometimes a green thumb is not born, but carefully grown and tended, like plants themselves. And the resources and tools above can help you on your to your first bit of green to call your own. 

(Images: Vahan Baladouni; as linked above)

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