A review of “Container Gardening Complete” by Jessica Walliser

Here’s the deal people.

If you are looking for one gardening book to give as a gift this holiday season, look no more, I have the answer.

No, it isn’t authored by me. I’m way overrated and you know that.

It is, without a shadow of a doubt, this book:

“Container Gardening Complete” by renowned author, Jessica Walliser. Click on the following link to buy it on Amazon:

Container Gardening Complete

The book was just released today, but because I’m all sorts of important, I received an advanced copy and had a chance to review it ahead of time.

One word to describe it: Killer

This is not an exaggerated claim, it’s the best book I’ve ever read on container gardening and I’ve read a lot because I’m kind of bad at container gardening and need all the help I can get.

The book kicks off covering the three pillars of container gardening:

  1. Container type
  2. Potting mix
  3. Container location (ex. full sun)

The author covers these pillars in great detail and it sets the tone for the rest of the book. From the best means to create drainage in a container (tile bit vs. masonry bit) to which containers withstand the winter temps to the benefits of coir fiber as a potting medium, it is all here.

And I’ll be returning to this section over and over again come spring when I plan to up my container gardening game.

From there the book is divided into the following chapters:

Design

This is personally my favorite section of the book and the most informative IMHO. A few key highlights:

How to plant a container in “proportion” – ideally, the container height is at 1/3 with the plants taking up the remaining 2/3 of the height

How to plant a container in “balance” – with a window box, plant the tallest plants in the center or evenly throughout in a group of 3

5 container design styles – from 1)thriller, filler, spiller to 2)flat-backed to 3)featured specimen to 4)monoculture to 5) pot-hugging

Designing with edible plants – a serious weak spot for me so I took lots of notes here.

Designing with annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, trees, etc – littered with fantastic suggestions and lists

Caring for your containers

Watering -She points out how the volume of potting soil and the type of container ultimately determines how much water is appropriate. She also dives into the different types of self-watering mechanisms which are a must during the heat of summer. This includes some you can make on your own.

Fertilizing – how to do so organically and naturally

Deadheading – key for prolonged bloom

Staking/Trellising – how, when and why is thoroughly covered

Troubleshooting

This section dives into more detail than any other book I’ve seen on the topic. No one knows more about¬†insects than Jessica, and it shows here. This runs from “beneficial” to those that are known destroyers of plants.

There are endless photos capturing all that can go wrong in a container garden and how those problems can be addressed.

Here’s one I am all too familiar with:

 Harvesting and Seasonal Considerations

This chapter educates on how to harvest and when to harvest, even down to the preferred time of day to pick those fruits and veggies.

It also discusses how to succession plant and the best ways to overwinter your containers, especially those prized possessions we don’t want to lose with the impending cold weather.

Container Concepts

This is where the ideas get stoked in my brain. This is where I copy the ideas and sell them as my own. This section is inundated with photographs and ideas and will warm the heart as we head into the long and cold winter months.

 

 

 

Projects

Throughout the almost 300-page book are 21 different “projects” that are DIY with the necessary steps easily laid out with photos to accompany each.

Even someone as DIY averse as me could pull some of these off.

 

As the book is marketed, this is a one-stop read for all things container gardening. I’ve read it once and I’m now on read number two. Not only is it educational, but it is even more inspirational. You’ll want to add a dozen more containers to your garden after reading this.

I couldn’t recommend it more.

Go get it now.

One for you and one for a fellow gardening friend.

You won’t regret it.

Pinky swear.