Repeatedly mulching plants with compost is important, not only because it encourages water retention but because plants will use up the nutrients in the container and you must replace them. My container garden is organic only, so I don't use artifical fertilizers, but this is another option if you're not growing organically.
Container gardens will dry out much quicker than regular gardens, so you must be very diligent about watering them. If you've provided good drainage you should not have to really worry about overwatering. Broken terra cotta pots can be recycled by laying the pieces over the soil. This helps retain moisture.
To keep my garden well watered, and so I don't have to water it every day, I use an "irrigation" system of sorts. Take any 16-24 oz bottle (plastic or glass is fine, just make sure it's food quality). Fill this bottle with water, quickly turn it upside down, and insert into the soil. One bottle per container is adequate. Not only does this water your plants at the roots (reducing water lost through evaporation), but it's a lifesaver when you need to leave town during a hot weekend!
Finally, keep in mind that for a container garden to be successful you must make the container size fit the plant. Below are some basic planting guidelines.
Pepper - 1 plant/2 gal pot or 5 plants/ 15 gal. pot
Garlic - 8 inch deep container
Cucumber - 1 plant/1 gal. pot
Carrott - 5 gal window box at least 12" deep
Onion - 5 gal. window box<
There are hundreds of sources on container gardening out there! Gardenguides.com is an excellent place to start, as is your local extension office. I am a Master Gardener Intern through the Vermont extension office.
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