Saturday, June 2, 2012

Gardening 101 ~ Container Gardening


 Hi there!  My last posting I showed how you can garden even if you have the wrong type of soil in your yard by gardening in a raised bed or also known as box garden.  Today will be about container gardening. I have friends who feel that because they are renting or in an apartment they can not garden. SURPRISE!!! You CAN!  You can garden out of containers. We do!  We garden multiple ways.

We use 5 gallon buckets to grow patio tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, any small type of tomato that will not grow tall.  We have found Roma tomatoes work well in 5 gallon buckets as well.  We have not been successful with peppers in the 5 gallon bucket.

We use storage bins. Yep, you read that correctly.

The above picture is a 32 gallon storage tote and it works great for carrots.  We have more success with carrots growing this way than in our ground garden.  Carrots are picky and you do not want to sow your seeds deep.  You are supposed to lightly cover your seeds, so the tubs work great.  We fill it with the soil and then place our seeds down
add another light layer of top soil. Our baby carrots are bigger than the type you can buy in the store.


 
 Above is a picture of our crop carrots we grew last summer.  We will also grow regular tomatoes in the storage bins as well as peppers.  We have much success this way.  As you can see, we still use the tomato cages.

The past few years we have grown our lettuce and baby spinach in under bed storage containers.  We made a little garden table on our deck and place the storage containers on it.  It is perfect access, when I am preparing dinner, I just step out onto our deck, cut the amount of lettuce or baby spinach needed, clean it and Walla fresh salad.  It is the best when it is fresh.  Seriously, all veggies have extreme flavor when you eat it fresh.  We had to put a tomato cage on it to keep the squirrels from digging.

  We also use the hanging containers, you know the Topsy Turvies.  We tried strawberries and did not have much luck with getting the strawberries.
Oh, we had strawberries, but it was more of a bird feeder.  We have grown peppers from it as well.  We typically grow cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes from it.  We always have 2 plants in one container, one hanging from the bottom and another planted in the top section.

We have made our own Topsy Turvy as well (picture below).  This one we made was out of a Kitty Liter container after it was emptied and cleaned.  It worked great, nothing fancy but I kind of like it.  It is our way of recycling and a little going green.
Todd picked up some gardening bags a few years ago at the end of the season on clearance.  He paid a dollar per package and there are 3 bags we found out this year per package.  We are going to try this with more tomatoes this year.  (See picture above next to the green 5 gallon buckets.)

When using containers for your garden, you have to think about the drainage.  You must make sure there are holes drilled in the bottom of your container, if you do not do this and it rains, you will have flooding and you will lose your crop.  (We learned this the hard way.)  You should also put some sort of rock in the bottom prior to the top soil.  We do not do this with our under the bed storage containers or the bag containers. The rocks will also assist with proper drainage.  The containers work great for balconies.  One thing to note, the containers will only be good for a few years.  They are not made for the outdoor elements, mainly the sun and will break over time.  We watch for sales and pick some up when we need to replace.  We also remove the soil from all of our containers and place it in a barrel over the winter and the empty storage containers will go into our shed to keep it from the winter's snow storms.  We even used an old shop vac base once to plant in.

 
Here is what we are using this year for our lettuce bed and baby spinach.  Our under the bed storage lasted 3 years.  I like this container much better and I am sure it will last much longer since it is an actual planter.  I think we will watch for sales towards the end of the season to pick up more.  We like to stagger our planting of the loose leaf lettuce.
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