As long as you provide the basics - light, water, food in the way of fertilizer, and soil - you can grow herbs, flowers and even vegetables in window boxes, hanging baskets or containers of any sort on your doorstep, patio or balcony.
Give leaky buckets, old coolers, hanging baskets, wooden boxes, cans, baskets and even jars new life as gardens. Any container that is at least 12 inches deep will accommodate most flowers and vegetables. Just make sure to provide good drainage by drilling or poking holes along the lower edge of the container near the bottom edge. Holes do not need to be directly in the bottom as they are likely to get clogged. Place a half inch of drainage material in the bottom of the container. Gravel, pebbles, or bits of broken clay pots work well.If the container has no drainage holes, increase the bottom layer to one inch.
Use equal parts of garden soil, sand and compost for your soil mix. If you are gardening on a deck or balcony, you may want to consider a soil-less mix as it weighs about half as much as more common growing mediums.
To make your own soil-less mix, mix three parts peat moss and one part coarse sand, perilite or vermiculite. Add one-half cup of lime to sweeten the soil and decrease the acidity of the peat. You must be diligent with replenishing the nutrients in a soil-less mix as the nutrients cannot be stored within the mix.
Most containers will need at least six hours of sun a day. Generally speaking, leafy greens and root crops can get by on less, but fruiting plants need full sun for a successful harvest.
Add wheels to your larger containers or make dollies for them. This way you can move your containers easily to make the most of the light you have. Also make use of light coloured walls for their reflected light. Check the soil at least once a day. In hot weather, containers may need two waterings a day. If the top inch feels dry, add water until it begins to drain out the bottom. You may conserve moisture by applying a mulch of pebbles, peat moss, compost or wood chips to the surface of the soil.
Throughout the growing season, feed the plants at every third watering or at least once a week with diluted solutions of manure tea, compost tea, fish emulsion or other fertilizer.
When planning your containers, the sky is the limit. It used to be that flowers were given the only consideration, but there is so much more to form when you have foliage. The foliage provides constant colour and shape. Consider plants with silver, grey, red, yellow and unusual shaped leaves.
Water plants make for very unusual and beautiful container gardens. Again, any container will work as long as it is watertight or you can make it so. Containers with dark interiors give the impression of greater depth, discourage algae, and hide the algae when it is present. You can add stones for interest and to raise plants to the correct depth in the container. The plants will keep the water from getting stagnant. Simply top off the water every few days as the water evaporated. As with any garden, deadhead spent flowers and remove any discoloured foliage. If mosquitoes become a problem in your container, look for the aquatic form of BT, biological control that looks like a small doughnut and kills the mosquito larvae.
You don't have to have a large plot of land to call yourself a gardener; simply a container, a plant or two, and a little patience.