She has decades of experience and an infectious passion for plants.
“I always tell people, before you really start a huge in-ground garden, start with container gardening,” said Havener.
Container gardening is exploding as people want to eat more organic foods. Plus, you can do a container garden anywhere!
I had a wonderful time picking Mary Lou’s brain on how to get started.
“Like anything else, you have to create time. It has to become part of your daily routine. But, it’s not a hindrance. It’s a joy.”
Now, what to buy first…
“For a beginner, go to the store and buy a good potting soil.”
Read the label to check out what is used for fertilizer. If you want to go organic, that’ll be on the label.
Click play below to hear how Mary Lou saves money on potting soil by mixing her own.
Once you get the soil and fertilizer mix down, think about the pot. I never thought about the differences in colors and materials.
Remember that black gets hot, so, you may want to steer clear. However, if you’re like me and obsessed with glossy back, here’s one option.
“You could actually grow some plants that fall over the side of it and grow down, which helps shade the pot.”
I didn’t know that there is an real reason for earth-tone pots.
“If you use a neutral colored pot, it’s going to show your plants off.”
Drainage is another key to container gardening. The pots are smaller than an outdoor garden, so you’ll need to water more often.
Mary Lou says you can take an old dish pan and cut holes in it if you’re big in to re-purposing.
Make sure you have a saucer underneath so you don’t make a mess AND you’ll have an extra water reservoir.
If you want to grow more than one plant, you can use the same pot.
“You want to choose plants with similar characteristics.”
You can grow several herbs in pot, but you’ll want to do a little research. Even experts like Mary Lou still reference books and the internet.
“Rosemary, Thyme and Sage like to be on the drier side, so you could put those three in one large pot.”
I buy my herbs at the store. They don’t last very long and they’re expensive.
“We’re cost conscious also. It is in the long run going to be cheaper.”
Mary Lou says growing your own tastes better.
“Once you get into your gardening and just taste the difference.”
She says don’t forget about disease control. There are plants that help.
“Zenias and marigolds, for an example.”
I like the way Mary Lou describes container gardening. Control freaks rejoice. You’re creating your own little world.
“You are creating a micro climate.”
Plus, container gardening is a great family activity.
“It’s just very relaxing too and it’s a great way to get kids involved.”
Once the garden grows, the child-like goodness continues.
“I will make mint ice cream and I will use the mint in my tea.”
Now… for the adults!
“There’s a mojito herb. If you put it in your drink, you swear it’s a mojito.”
Well, I’m sold. Mojito herb is going on my to-buy list. My girlfriends will get a kick out of it too.
I keep telling myself this is the year I’ll start a garden. Another year passes without one living plant in my home.
2015 is going to be the year…. for real this time.
“If you kind of master it on a small-scale, then you really feel more confident to go on to bigger and better things.”
Here’s an article I found on which herbs to plant together.
Find the perfect recipe for different pots from Better Homes and Gardens.