container gardening

Container Gardening

The front of our roadside garden has always had a weed issue. There are fields across the road and lots of undeveloped land in the area, making it a prime spot for unwanted greenery.

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Sunchokes, zucchini, hot peppers, lemon grass, gold purslane, red carrots and lemon mint.

This year we decided to shut the bed down for a while. We covered it with newspaper, heavy landscaping fabric and mulch.
It made sense to use containers, as the bed was already bordered with a barrel of horseradish on each side.

So we added pots and planted a variety of herbs and veggies.

Pumpkin, purslane and sunchokes.

More sunchokes and green purslane.

Because it is along the fence, we can use that to grow vining squashes.
And, well, since nobody is perfect- you can see in the upper left what happens when you forget you planted pumpkin seeds and you sow turnips. We’ll see if they get along.

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More carrots and hot peppers, plus chamomile and cucumbers.

Since the tunneling critters were getting our carrots we decided to try them in pots this year. So far, so good.

Basil, white cherry tomato

Basil, white cherry tomato, blue hubbard squash, chives, dill and oregano.

The blue pot in the forefront holds two volunteer tomatoes from different parts of the yard. It will be fun to see what kinds they are!

Red malabar spinach.

Red malabar spinach.

Red malabar is not really a spinach, but tastes similar. It is a vining crop that we’re hoping will grow up the old kiwi vines here.

The gnome? Well, we decided they should all live in the container garden, including this really large one.

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And a few more here.

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Tarragon, silver mint, dwarf sunflowers and catnip.

You can see some of those pesky weeds trying to get in here. Time to get back out and cut them down.

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Sage, spaghetti squash and cumin.

The cumin is a real trooper. Somehow we neglected to drill holes in this pot, and it became flooded. It was a few days before it was found, but the plant is coming around.

weeds

More basil, one of the two white cherry tomatoes, and baby garlic chives.

The nice things about containers are the fact that are not so low to the ground, the main pests are tiny ones that are easy to deal with, and there are very little weeds involved.
The downside is only that they need to be watered more often. Keeping them all together helps make that easy to do.

If the plants continue to do this well, we may just leave it like this.

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Categories: container gardening, gardening

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Simple Yet Fun, Garden Whimsy

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” ~Picasso

pails rain 002

At this time of year there is not a lot coming in from the garden, enough to munch on for sure and even some to store for the winter; but other than a little weeding there isn’t much work play time.

pails rain 001

Unless you create your own. In this case inspiration came from my Facebook gardening friends Jack and Ebony, and what was growing in their gardens. It also came from some plastic pails that were purchased last year from a dollar store.

We have a semi-dwarf peach tree that happens to have a limb that was severely over-pruned. Let’s just say that Mandolin is no longer allowed to use the pruners.

The Forsythia bush is happy about that, too.
Don’t ask.

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In order to do this, you need to first drill a few holes in the bottom of each pail. Next, carefully lower each empty one down a limb, running the limb through one handle opening. You can get them somewhat situated, but realize that once you add potting soil and when it gets wet, the pails will shift their weight.

In order to make the pails a little lighter we added a small plastic pot before filling with soil.

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It’s important to have the pots not too terribly tilted, or the soil and seeds might get washed out during a heavy rain. Some thin wire helped support two of the pots.

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Be sure there is sufficient sunlight for what you are planting.

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We chose radishes and baby carrots, kohlrabi and spinach for the slightly shaded area, and some leftover tiny onions.

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And of course, a lookout to keep the squirrels away.

Categories: container gardening, gardening, techniques

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Growing in Containers

There are some wonderful gardeners out there who grow solely in containers, I admire them.
Our experience is less, but growing in containers has allowed us to grow more invasive plants, as well as some items we otherwise couldn’t in our area.
Here are a few things we’ve learned that are good to know if containers are going to be a part or all of your garden:

1. Use the right soil. Containers need something light, so that it will not get packed down, and so the roots have freedom to roam. Garden centers carry an assortment of potting soils to choose from. My Dad always mixed his own- a blend of vermiculite, sphagnum moss, and perlite, that he would add top soil, compost and/or fertilizer (depending on the plant) to. We use a mix called BM1 in our large raised beds, also adding the compost and fertilizer as needed.

what were sunchokes

ooops!

2. Containers need more frequent watering. Mulching can help this, but by their very nature containers do not hold on to water as well as the ground does. Check your containers often. I once heard the suggestion, and I apologize I don’t remember from whom, to water your containers until the water comes out the bottom. When you’re done with all your containers, go back and do it again. This gives the soil a chance to absorb more moisture.
When you are incorporating containers into a larger garden setting, grouping them helps with watering. We learned the hard way that a container out of sight is also out of mind. Sorry Sunchokes.

3. Choose wisely.This has two components:
a. If you’re growing exclusively in containers- choose plants and plant varieties that do well in containers. Adjectives that describe a smaller stature, like ‘Fairy’ and ‘Baby’ are often good clues that the plant will be better suited to a container. A good seed catalog or website, like Johnny’s Seeds will clearly indicate which plants do better in tight spots.

b. If you’re mixing it up- you may want to plant some ‘invasives’ in containers, we do a lot of that here. If that’s the case remember they still have drainage holes, and their roots can grow through them. Really.
We plant the more invasive plants, like horseradish, in large barrels that sit on top of flat stones.
Some plants can also flower and re-seed themselves, mint and marjoram are quite prolific here. For years I thought Dill was a perennial. These we plant in large pots.

prickly pears

containing the growth

4. Keep them light- Unless you are planting a perennial and placing it in a permanent location, you’re going to need to deal with the weight of the pot and its contents at some point. Using a product like ‘Ups a Daisy‘ or simply placing a small upside down plastic pot inside you container before adding the soil will help keep it light.
Bonus- this also makes for better drainage. Which reminds me-

5. Give them good drainage- Of course you’ll use pots that have drain holes in them, but if those holes get blocked, drainage could be compromised. This can happen from within, if the soil fills the holes in. This can also happen on the outside, if you place the pot in such a way that the holes get blocked (on soil or mulch for example).
Many gardeners use pebbles, glass stones, even pieces of broken pots to line the bottom of their containers and hep with drainage. Depending on what the pot is made of, you can also drill a few holes along the outside near the bottom.

olive trees

ready to come indoors as needed

Categories: container gardening

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