rydia131
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Container Gardening Question

Ok, so Id like to start off by saying that Im new to gardening and brand new to the forum (first post). So on to the question...

I live in an apartment and have been furiously planning a container garden. Ive bought 3 large storage bins for my garden and an assortment of smaller pots for various little things. The bins I bought are all pretty deep, approx 2.5 ft deep. So I was thinking about putting a layer of rocks in the bottom. I thought this would do two things, provide extra drainage and also save me money on soil. So is this a good idea? I havent seen this on any container gardening sites that ive looked at. If this isnt a good idea can anyone point me in a different direction? If this is a good idea can anyone give me any suggestions on where/what rocks to get? Or is this something where I could save a buck and just collect rocks? Sorry if this question isnt on par with the site. I just thought it was worth a try. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions!!

MObeek
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Location: Northwest Missouri

Welcome to the forum.

Try going to this link and see if it answers your question.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... php?t=1854

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applestar
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Hmm... I usualy recommend AGAINST putting anything in the bottom of the container. That just makes the container shallower, you know? Less room for roots to grow.

Rocks will make the container heavier, too. Tubs filled with moist growing mix alone will be heavy, double or triple the weight by the time plants are growing well. On the other hand, you my NEED heavy weights on the bottom so the containers don't topple over when they get top-heavy.

I did a quick search (search box at the top of the page) using "Container what to put in bottom" and several threads popped up. I know we've talked about this before. You may want to try that and see if any of them match what you are thinking.

Are you thinking of using the large tubs to grow various plants in? are you thinking of growing large tomto plants? There will be other considerations. Apartment you said -- Sunny balcony? Sunny window? Supplemental lights?

If you need to move the tub around, you may want to put them on wheels. You'll need pans to catch water draining out of drainage holes.

Maybe we should start from the beginning and talk about what you want to grow, what you CAN grow as things are, what you will NEED to grow more things?

We can help. ...just need more information. :wink:

veggiedan
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I'd have to say that with 30 inches of soil, having a layer of small rocks at the bottom isn't going to reduce the soil available for roots that much. 30 inches is way more than a spade depth. It's the same philosophy in a flower pot, where you put solid pieces in the bottom to keep soil from clogging up the drain. So depending how your bins drain, a layer of rocks might be a good idea. You certainly don't want to end up with puddling at the base of the bins. Also, rocks aren't a lot heavier than wet soil, so I suspect they won't make much of a difference on weight. You aren't going to be carting these bins around when they're full anyway, I suspect. I don't think it makes much difference about what rocks to use.

By the same token, a thin layer of rocks isn't going to save you a lot of money on soil.

Now, I don't do container gardening, but big plastic storage bins might be asking for trouble. They aren't built to handle that kind of weight. Also, I suspect they aren't very UV tolerant. So they may well crack after laying out in the sun for a few months. Might be wise not to fill them to the brim, and if there is some way to cover them (aluminum foil?) on the sun-facing side, they'll certainly last longer.

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madonnaswimmer
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I have been container gardening for years and you will see rocks at the bottom of each of my containers. They do provide for good drainage while keeping the soil in the pot.

As for what kind of rock, I honestly went for a walk around my apartment complex with a plastic bag and picked up whatever I could find... even hunks of concrete that had broken off the side of the sidewalks. I use around 1-2" of rocks in my bigger pots and around 1/2-1" of rocks for my smaller pots. I keep all of my rocks in 3 separate bags (small, medium, and large) so that I can put small rocks in the small pot, large rocks in the large pots, etc. But I am OCD with organizing so that's really not necessary!

I have heard a lot of people who place a small circle of screen over each hole, and I have a buddy who cuts and places women's nylon stockings over the holes of his pots.

I think everyone has their own way of doing things, but I have used rocks for years and never had problems!

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applestar
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For drainage, size, number of drainage holes, WHERE you drill them, and the kind of potting mix used are more important. :o

I agree about the (lack of) longevity of the tubs. They also push out in the long sides from the pressure. But I don't want to get into all the details without hearing more about the OP's plans and expectations. :wink:

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Where are you going to put the containers in your apartment and what will you grow? You also need to put the containers where they will get enough light.

It usually is better to use a quality potting mix or mix up your own.

If you are using self watering containers, you don't need stones on the bottom, just a reservoir to add water. How are you draining and watering the containers?

It is true that the rubbermaid tubs are not UV resistant but they do last 3-5 years and longer if you keep the containers in a shady location or at least mostly covered with plants. Do not buy the thin plastic tubs, get the thickest ones you can find or use the plastic watering tubs from the farm stores that are used to feed animals, they are designed to be outdoors.

I have noticed lately that even plastic planters are being made of thinner plastic and don't last very long either. They get very brittle.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

rydia131
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Re: Container Gardening Question

It's been a long time since I originally posted this thread! Sorry about that! I came back the following days after posting and the site wouldn't open.

I'm sure you have all long forgotten about this thread but I wanted to update anyway!

I never saw the posts about the durability of the plastic bins but had already spent the money on them so I would have probably used me anyway. It would be nice if they would last me for 2 years but who knows. I did NOT put rocks in the tubs. No big reason, just flip flopped a lot and that's the side I landed on. As far as the garden goes, I think it's going great! As a first time gardening on my own I couldn't have asked for better early success.

I planted Roma and cherry tomatoes, basil, cilantro, rosemary, bell peppers, green beans, snap peas and Bibb lettuce. I transplanted a week after "last frost", I put that in quotes because it just frosted two days ago. I picked up all the bins and it was no problem.

This experience has gone so well I'm planning on doing a fall garden too. Next year I also plan on expanding my knowledge and tying new and different vegetables. Any input anyone could give me would be great! Thanks for the help!



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