The following was first published in my RV Living column with RVWest
RVers love Container Gardens
Leaving the home I loved and the flowers I had nurtured wasn’t quite as difficult after realizing I could bring some of my favourite plants with us in our fifth wheel. Putting my much-loved rose bush, Shasta daisies and a mix of popular flowers in containers allowed me to have a little bit of home with us no matter where we were.
We weren’t traveling continuously, just every few months and not leaving the province so having a few containers in the back of the truck during each move wasn’t really a problem. While changing locations during the next few years’ part of setting up the RV included placing my containers and flower pots around our new site.
Absolutely anything can be used as a container and will depend on how large or heavy you want it to be. A tin can filled with pansies sitting on the picnic table can be beautiful as well as a tomato plant in a larger pot with lots of tomatoes to nibble on is usually appreciated.
Creating a container garden includes having soil, a container, plants and water and really doesn’t need to be difficult. However, most plant experts will tell you your plants will have a better chance of surviving in a bigger container and won’t require as much water because it will retain moisture longer and it’s easier to control the amount of fertilizer used. I have found that small plastic containers dry out too fast, require constant watering and may stress out the plants. The container will need drainage so make sure there is a drainage hole in the bottom and purchase soil that is specific for containers.
Many years ago I spent a few months traveling throughout the United States and when I was in New Orleans I fell in love with Satsuma oranges and impulsively bought a Satsuma orange tree. I packed it along with us for four months until we arrived in Texas and had an orange picking ceremony. The oranges weren’t very good but it was fun. Since we were returning to Canada I had to pass it on to another traveler and I think someone eventually planted it permanently. Most recently we had a beautiful rose bush that for a few years came with us everywhere until one fall I neglected to protect it early enough from the frost.
Growing tomatoes in containers can be very rewarding but also a challenge. The secret is to buy a plant that is grown specifically for containers. Other vegetables and herbs will also be appreciated when it’s time to make dinner and you can go out to your container garden and pick them fresh from your pots.
One of the things to be aware of when purchasing bedding plants is how much sun you will have in the garden area and what will be the best plant for growing there. Speak with someone from the local gardening centre and get their advice. A mixture of different flowering plants can add a colourful and welcoming addition to the entrance of your RV and people will usually stop and talk to you about them, which is a way to encourage new friendships amongst your fellow RVers.
Once you have chosen your pot and it has a proper drainage source, cover the bottom with paper towel or a plastic screen that will keep the soil in but let the water drain out. Fill it up with potting soil to within an inch of the top of the pot and mix in fertilizer. Next, dig a little hole for each plant and place them carefully in the soil, making sure the soil doesn’t cover the crown and doesn’t come too high in the pot so the water won’t flow over the lip. Water generously until it flows out the bottom and put more soil in if needed.
Now comes the fun part – maintaining and enjoying what you are growing. No matter what type of container is used or if you plant flowers, vegetables or herbs, experiment and have fun with your little traveling container garden.
Just because you live or travel in an RV doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy gardening – give it a try!
Carol Ann Quibell is an author, freelance writer and columnist who have been RVing or camping for most of her life. After a yearlong trip throughout Canada, the USA and Mexico in the 1990’s she was hooked on travel and is determined not to stop. She loves to share information with fellow RVers and promotes travelling, camping and RVing to everyone she can.