Quick, EZ Summer Color

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“Avid gardeners” describes three special ladies in my life. Every summer as I was growing up, so were the gardens of my Mom and Aunt Lil. When we kids were all little, the patches included as many vegetables as flowers. Sitting on the porch “helping” clean snap peas, we probably ate as many as were put into the basket! And many a fresh tomato was snatched off the vine and eaten like an apple, for a summer afternoon treat!

Over time, as the seats at the dinner table emptied, the gardens transitioned to nearly all flowers with just an occasional tomato plant or two. Though “in-laws”, my mom and aunt were as close as real sisters. Each year they would have this “unspoken” friendly competition over who had the best garden that summer. I remember gladiolas taller than my mother, and fat, bright faced zinnias in Aunt Lil’s credenza vase.
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You can enjoy some beautiful summer color and greenery, without a lot of space or any particular talent. You will need a little dedication though, because it takes regular watering. The process is very easy and inexpensive.

SUPPLIES
1. Container (Have FUN with this)
2. Potting soil
3. Plants

1. CONTAINERS Use your imagination here. Lots of things can be used for your container. Baskets, bins, old garden impliments can all work.
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TIP: Your plants need drainage and normal planters have holes in the bottom for this. When using a more unique container like the basket or the bucket pictured, you can do one of two things. Put holes in the bottom, which I did with the bucket. Or you can just get some cheap, plastic pots for your plantings and set them inside your container.
TIP: If your planters will be inside and don’t have drain plates, you’ll need to set a plate or pan beneath to catch the excess when you water. Mine are outside, so I just let them drain out onto the patio surface.

2. POTTING SOIL This is very affordable and comes in varied sizes according to your needs. The $3.66 bag will work for one medium or two small containers.

TIP: Ask Questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. The store associates can help with the quantites of soil and plants you’ll need. They can suggest combinations that work well together for varied heights, interest and your space and light. You can even take your container(s) with you to get a better idea.

3. PLANTS Plants are easy. Each Spring, inexpensive annuals in endless colors and varieties can be found at department stores, nurseries, even hardware stores. Ours were purchased at Wal-Mart.

In the planter featured in the opening photo, I used wax begonias, snap dragons and a larger geranium. Each has unique foliage that adds even more color and interest to your container.
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You’ll see that the smaller plantings come in trays of six sections. These are called “starts” and are quite small. Don’t worry, they’ll perk up once planted. I chose a bigger, single geranium for height.

You can also purchase various foliage plants for both fill-in color and height. These are quite affordable too.

Spikes are taller and pointed; vinca vine is a trailing filler in white and green; below is dusty miller, a small to medium filler.

STEPS
1. Put a layer of soil in your planter. Use your LARGEST plant as a guide; holding it so the top edge of its’ container is level with the top of your planter; fill the planter with soil up to the bottom of your plant; carefully remove the plant from its’ pot and set it in the center of your planter. Add a bit more soil around the plant to stabilize it.

2. Now, repeat step one, using your SMALLER plant as a guide. Hold the top soil level with the top of your planter then pack a bit of soil under and around it. When it’s at the height you want, remove the rest of your smaller plants from their trays and continue the process all the way around the pot.

TIP: Be gentle with the plants. Don’t tear them out of their trays, and be careful not to pack your soil too tightly. Get things firm but not packed and water your container. When this settles, you’ll be able to see if more soil is needed.

3. All that’s left is to water things a bit and make sure they have enough sun – enough but not too much!

TIP: Don’t drown the plants. Water gently and just keep soil slightly moist to the touch. If your planter is outside, it may dry out faster and need watering more often.

Now let’s add up the cost.

Potting Soil = $3.66
1 begonia tray = $1.78
1 snaps tray = $1.78
1 single geranium = $1.28

TOTAL = $8.50

Keep in mind I had enough soil for another planter. I didn’t buy a new container, but found one around the house. I purchased two start trays. You could still stay under $10 if you used just one tray, a savings of $1.78 making your total $6.72. At that price, if you can’t find, beg or borrow a free one, you’d be able to go thrift shopping at your local stores and garage sales for bargain priced containers!

See, easy AND affordable. But if it’s just not your thing, take the $10 and buy one of those beautiful hanging baskets! 🙂 Like I always say, don’t stress, just start!

I mentioned three favorite lady gardeners in my life. My Aunt Lillith’s garden is shown as is my mom with her gladiolas. I only wish the photos weren’t so faded so you could better appreciate the colors! And while not pictured, my very special friend Joyce has lovely gardens surrounding her home. Perhaps, pictures at a later date.

Until next time – Cheryl

All planting purchases in article are from our local Wal-Mart store in Princeton, Minnesota and we thank them for allowing us to take photos.

Copyright © 2013 Artzzle All Rights Reserved

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