8 Container Gardening Tips for Beginners

8 Container Gardening Tips for Beginners

The folks at Fred Meyer recently reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in teaming with them on a post about container gardening. Of course, this is right up my alley so I agreed! When I told the kids that I’d be headed to the Fred Meyer Garden Center, they wanted to come along for the ride. (They share my love of plants and gardening.)

Container Gardening with Kids

So what’s so great about container gardening, anyway? Here are some of the potential benefits I can think of – maybe you can think of others, too:

  • Plants in containers are portable. Plants grown in containers can easily be moved as you please. Perhaps you’ve decided you’d prefer the container in a different spot in your yard. Or maybe the plant would do well in a sunnier spot. Or maybe it’s a plant that’s not frost tolerant and you’d like to move it indoors for the winter.
  • Plants in containers may be easier to manage. Container gardening is a great option for kids or persons with limited mobility. While you will need to stay up on watering and fertilizing, other tasks like weeding and pruning may be easier to tend to.
  • Plants in containers can bring nature to otherwise sterile spots. A bare porch or deck can be transformed to something special through the use of a few containers. Many people enjoy bringing potted plants inside or into an office for a touch of nature.

Of course, it can be overwhelming when you start thinking of all the potential container + plant combinations out there! To get you started, I thought I’d share 8 simple tips for getting started with container gardening. Since this is a frugal living blog and we’ll be shopping at Fred Meyer, I’ll make sure to keep these ideas as budget-friendly as possible!

Tip #1: It’s OK to use a variety of planters!

Planters at Fred Meyer

It might seem like a good idea in theory to buy all matching containers filled with all matching plants – but in practice you may find it’s very challenging to keep those plants looking 100% symmetrical all growing season!

Take the pressure off yourself (and save some money) by experimenting with a number of different planters and containers. Dust off any you have laying around (that aren’t broken and in good shape, of course!). I also found a number of really fun styles at Fred Meyer – terra cotta planters, ceramic, glass, even sturdy plastic. Lucky me, they were all 25% off during my visit. I even found a section on clearance!

Here is my favorite seating area in my garden:

An assortment of containers look pretty in the garden.

As you can see, I combined a number of different container styles and plants. While it’s not matchy-matchy, it still definitely works to create a peaceful space in my garden.

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How to Grow Your Own Chamomile Tea

It's easy and delicious to grow your own herbal teas!

One of my latest gardening pursuits has been growing my own tea! I love a nice cup of herbal tea when I’m not feeling well, or just to relax in the evening. While teas can be purchased rather inexpensively using sales and coupons, I find it can also be pretty frugal to grow your own. Plus the flavor of tea when the ingredients are just-picked and grown organically can be really hard to beat!

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Last year, I planted these German Chamomile seeds in a container in my garden. The cool thing about chamomile? It self seeds! That means this year, the flowers just came right on back up – without me having to do anything about it!

I’ve become a big fan of perennials and plants that are self sufficient like this because you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck as the plants won’t need to be replaced year after year.

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Chamomile is ridiculously easy to grow. In fact, I think I hardly watered this container in spring and the plants thrived anyways. I also noticed that these flowers like being picked. I started harvesting them a couple weeks ago, and it would seem the more I picked, the more new buds would flower!

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7 Gardening Supplies I Couldn’t Live Without

7 Must Have Supplies for the Garden - some you can get for cheap or FREE!

After gardening for a few years, I have come to learn quickly which tools and products get the job done – and which are a bit of hype! Today I wanted to share some of my favorite go-to gardening products and tools. I am also pleased to share that most of the items on my list can be obtained for very few dollars, and some can even be found for free!


#1: Boogie Brew Plant Tea, 3 lbs for $35

I discovered this amazing compost tea last year and wouldn’t grow my garden without it! (In fact, I have some “brewing” right now.) It’s basically the only fertilizer I use for my plants. My plants experienced amazing growth and health when I started using this last year.

I bought mine on Amazon, and you can also buy it directly from BoogieBrew.net if you’re interested.

Here’s a description, from Amazon:

Boogie Brew Pro Compost Tea creates phenomenal growth rates while saving the farmer on fertilizer costs & water usage. Nutrients are broken down faster and made more bio-available. Salts & heavy metals found in soil & water supplies become far less hazardous to plants when the enzymes produced by Boogie’s biological army of organisms work to soften their impact and reduce toxicity. Prepare to witness explosive growth, shiny leaf structure, strong root development and awesome flower quality. Used regularly, Boogie Brew helps plants to achieve their fullest flavor & aroma potential.

If you end up purchasing this tea, there is a bit of equipment involved (it’s not terrible, but it is necessary). I recommend you visit BoogieBrew.net for more information on getting started.


#2: Garden Fork

I picked up a garden fork like the one pictured above this year when I started foraging for dandelions. Holy cow! Why on earth did I not pick up one of these YEARS ago? It is simply the BEST tool for breaking up big clods of weed and grass, aerates the soil nicely, and is nice for using in hay or other big piles of plant matter. Recommend, recommend.

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Frugal Gardening At Its Finest: Recycled Materials, No Build, Garden Bed!

This is frugal gardening at its finest! Use materials you already have at home to create a no-build garden space! Eco-friendly and great for flower and veggie gardens!

About a month ago, I was pining for some additional growing space in my backyard. Eventually, we’re planning to do away with more of our grass and perhaps put in a bit more landscaping, but it’s likely not happening for another year or two. One night I was reading Gaia’s Garden and had a eureka! moment. Outlined in the book was a way to create a layered growing space that wouldn’t involve ripping up sod, tilling, or constructing raised beds!

In fact, the method outlined in the book seemed super cost effective because it would involve using materials I already had on hand. So I asked my husband if I could use a weed/grass covered slope in our backyard for an experimental growing space this year (he said, “sure, go right ahead”).

I’m excited to share with you my project, but I must include this caveat – this is truly an experiment and my first time building a garden bed like this. So while I’m happy to show you step-by-step what I did, please know this is definitely an “experiment in progress.” If you are serious about replicating what I’m about to show you, I highly recommend you pick up the book Gaia’s Garden (I was able to locate it easily from my library, but it’s also available for ~$20 on Amazon).

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So here’s the before. Don’t judge; I know it’s horrible. This is what happens when 1) you decide you don’t want to use chemicals on your yard and 2) you don’t actually end up doing anything with the area.

First, I considered the area I wanted to use for this project. It’s pretty much full sun, and a slope. It also faces the kids’ play area and attracts many birds, bees, and butterflies. There are a few mature plants around the edges: a couple rhododendrons, a hydrangea, a lavender, and a couple random shrubby plants that I don’t know what they are. I decided to leave these and just give them a haircut. While I’m not a fan of rhododendrons (except when they are flowering), the little chickadees in my area are!

Also worth mentioning, a rather grassy mess of a ground cover up near the lavender. I was prepared to take it out and managed to remove half when I noticed a few bees flying under there. So I decided to leave the rest of it alone! Hey – built in pollinators, right? (Plus, I didn’t care to get stung!)

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Step one. Decide the area you wish to use for your grow space. I used spray paint to mark it, but you could use string or natural materials or whatever. Cut the weeds and/or mow the grass down. You do NOT need to dig that stuff up – just leave it there! Next, if your soil is a bit compacted, take a garden fork and aerate it up a bit. (That’s what I’m doing in the picture above.) This is also a great time to work in any amendments you may have. I had sea minerals and worm castings handy, so I added those. Gaia’s Garden also suggests rock dust, bone meal, and kelp meal. (You can always test your soil’s fertility first to determine what it may need.)

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7 Lessons the Forest Can Teach you about Gardening

7 Lessons the Forest Can Teach about you about GardeningI’ve been spending a lot of time lately in this forested trail near my house.


It’s lush, beautiful, and full of life. And yet, no one tends it. No one spends hours weeding it, dousing it with Sluggo, pruning down the branches, or planting annuals each year. Somehow it manages quite fine on its own thankyouverymuch.

I’ve spend some time pondering this and reading books such as Gaia’s Garden (about $17 on Amazon), which suggest that maybe a better, simpler way to garden would be to work with nature instead of fighting against it. After spending some time making observations, I’ve come up with 7 lessons that the forest can teach us about gardening.

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Our visit to Raintree Nursery: My Favorite Fruit Nursery for PNW Gardens!

Raintree Nursery in Morton, WashingtonWe went on an overnight trip to Portland this weekend and on the way back, I asked my husband if we could stop at Raintree Nursery in Morton! We’ve been before, but I adore this place so much I wanted to stop in again!

I’ve mentioned Raintree before on the blog, and for good reason. This amazing nursery is primarily focused on fruit trees and berry bushes. If you’re looking for a wide selection of apples trees or blueberry bushes – you pretty much need to check them out. Now you can request a free catalog and order online or over the phone, but if you are ever able to stop by their garden center, I recommend it!

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It is about a 30 minutes’ drive off of I5 (you can take junction 12), but it’s a really beautiful drive! You’ll see farmland, forests, waterfalls, ponds, streams… it’s a great place to take a day trip if you’re just looking for a scenic drive. Raintree Nursery is located on Butts road, much to my kids’ delight.

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My son was particularly excited to go here! He loves, loves gardening and will frequently curl up with the Raintree catalog. (No, I’m not making this up!)

DSCN5711 (800x600)There’s a great little reading room inside the main building. I could spend hours here! You’ll find books about permaculture, organic methods for home orchadists, recipe books, books on growing unusual fruit, and more. There’s also a little table where you can make yourself a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. (I couldn’t resist!)

DSCN5712 (537x800)This is my favorite part of the nursery!

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Frugal Gardening: Growing Food in Burlap Sacks

How to grow food in a burlap sack | The Coupon Project

For the last couple months, I’ve been sharing topics related to Frugal Gardening. During the course of this series, reader Feline chimed in and told me she was successfully growing vegetables in burlap sacks! When she offered to write a tutorial and share images of her garden, I jumped at the chance! 

With that…here’s Feline: 


I get my burlap sacks for $1 at the Ace Hardware in Lake Forest Park Town Center. They have several locations. I’ve also seen burlap sacks at farm and feed supply stores or tack shops for just over $1 each. Look inside the bag and make sure the inside seam down the sides of the bag are clean (see photo in step 7). The top seam/opening doesn’t matter at all.  Be careful, this stuff will get all over your knits! I bring in my large IKEA shopping bag when I buy them.

Setting Up Your Burlap Sack Garden Bed

Step 1: Plan your arrangement!  Once the dirt is in, you won’t be able to play with it much, so it’s a good idea to lay out your sacks ahead of time so you know you’ll have good spacing.


Step 2: Reach into the sack with both hands and grab the side seams about halfway down the bag. Turn the top half over to create a double layer of burlap. Make sure the top half is slightly longer than the bottom seam.


Some bags have been cut along the top and this leaves a really yucky opening.  It doesn’t matter at all, so just go with it.  In the end, it’ll be tucked in.

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