Jump to content
MrsSurvival Discussion Forums
Andrea

Container Gardening

Recommended Posts

Hello all. dogmom4 asked me to post my "jerusalem artichokes" thread that I posted in gardening over here. Instead, here is the link: http://www.mrssurvival.com/forums/ubbthr...ge=1#Post189508

 

I live in the Central Valley of California on 1/4 of an acre in town. So I guess I'm "urban", although our economy is agriculturally based so I guess it just feels "rural" here. I've been container gardening for several years now and I want to assure all of you with limited space that you CAN grow a significant amount of your fruits and vegetables in containers. In addition to the jerusalem artichokes, I also have an "orchard" consisting of 2 figs, 2 mandarin oranges, 6 apples, 3 apricots. All of these are dwarf variety and all are planted in containers. Except for the apples & figs, which are new this year, all trees are producing beautifully. I also have 7 - 2'x6' rectangular planters that I built out of old fence boards. They are 3 feet tall and sit on an unfortunate slab of cement on the south side of my house. Currently in these I have 2 types of chard, way too much spinach, celery, peas (don't ask me to share. they're just coming in now and I've been making a pig out of myself), lettuce, carrots, brocolli, beets, and green onions. On top of this, I have several more storage bins (like those described in the jerusalem artichoke thread) set up as well as 30+ 5 gal buckets that I've scrounged from neighbors and nurserys. All of this is on the South side of the house and come July, I'll need a machete to make my way back there!

 

And scattered throughout the yard in various flower beds, and corners, I've also got raspberries, blueberries, mints, herbs, rhubarb, strawberries, etc - all growing in containers. I've also taken out a flower bed and made a huge onion/garlic bed in the front yard (hey, I've got a few ornamentals dressing it up!) I also have several more citrus trees, but these are planted in the ground and form a spiky hedge between our house and the neighbors.

 

Self-sufficiency is not possible on this amount of land, although maybe it could provide for one person if they didn't mind the extremely limited diet! But what I try to do is grow a years worth of certain things. For example, I haven't bought salsa in years because I grow all of our tomatoes, peppers, and onions and I've just started getting enough raspberries to put up raspberry jelly this year. I'm hoping for equal amounts of strawberries and rhubarb. After reading John Jeavons books, I've also begun experimenting in calorie crops - mainly potatoes. I'm not thrilled with my results so far in this department and I'm not sure that potatoes are really such a great crop for me with my limited growing area, but the potential for most calories per square foot is greatest in spuds, so I'm prepping 3 of my larger beds for potatoes once again. Two of the beds will be started from seed potatoes I saved from last year, and one of the beds will be from a new variety that I just bought. This year will also mark my 4th year with Stevia - which we love, and which I finally feel I've mastered, so I will also be doubling my planting of this herb.

My goal two years ago (we've been in this house for 3 years now) was to be able to feed my family something out of the yard/garden every day of the year. This is a goal I finally reached this year and I'm hoping to keep improving upon it each year in the future.

 

Sorry for the rambling thread, but dogmom4 wanted to start a container gardening section over here for us "townies".

 

So what are your container stories? What has worked for you? What hasn't worked for you? And those upside down tomatoes? Great space savers but do they really work? I'm VERY curious!

 

And finally, what is your inspiration? Mine came from www.pathtofreedom.com and www.simpleliving.net

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hot diggit dog fruit trees in containers banana

 

I had a container garden last year and it did pretty good until the drought and heat wave hit. Then they put water restrictions on us. This year I am going to use my gray water for the garden.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting your experiences. We are planting our first ever garden this year. We are hoping to move this summer and we don't want to put all that effort into a garden just to move when the crops are coming in. So, it's time for a container garden.

 

I've learned a couple things about gardening already. First, I won't start so soon next year. It would be fine for the tomatoes and peppers, but the beans definately don't need to be started this early. Second thing is that when starting early, I will never again use those little black plastic starter cells. They are a pain to get the transplants out. For now on I'll use the peat pots, or I may be able to find a way to make a reusable seed starting cells. Or maybe I can find a way to recycle newspaper into seed starting pots.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: ArmyOfFive4God
Were your restrictions inclusive of food gardens? Here we had an all out ban EXCEPT new landscape rollingeyes & food gardens.


The university has its own well and considering it ran they asked me to stop my watering. They stopped watering and stopped planting. They have been buying water from the county all year and now the country has restrictions. So that is why I am going with gray water this summer. I figure as many clothes as I wash a week I will have more than enough to keep my garden green. I just won't use the wash water from the whites don't want to put bleach water on my plants.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: Fritz_Monroe
I did a quick search after posting and came up with 2 different ways to use newspaper to make seed starting pots.

Create Seed Starting Pots from Newspaper
Newspaper Seed Starting Pots


Thanks for the links. I like #2 and I have newspaper! So I am going to try and make some this weekend. Got to get ready for those seeds that should be here any day now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrea have you tried gowing potatoes in old tires or kiddie pools? I have had several people tell me how they do this but no one has ever said if they have good results. Anybody?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've made newspaper pots with both of those methods. If you are making a bunch, the first method is very fast and easy. A cheap way to do is take a cardboard flat from the grocery and slip it into a trash bag to make it waterproof. Set all your dirt filled pots in it and water from the bottom by pouring water into the flat. It isn't pretty, but it is nearly free and works. When you are ready to plant, just set the pot and all into the ground. They dissolve much faster than peat pots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrea, thanks for such a wonderful post! bighug

I have a half dozen containers of strawberries that went dormant over the winter but have been taking off with the weather warming up. Only one of lettuce that basically overwintered and survived the freeze we had.

 

Last year I tried the upside down tomato with little success. Not because it won't necessarily work, but, we had a pretty long stretch of over 100 degree days, I got sick and they all died for lack of watering. Plus, it was necessary to get on a ladder to water them because they were hung on the edges of the roof (flat roof). No one else but me wanted to get on the ladder 2 times a day to water. So, this year I plan to figure out a way to hang them from the roof but using a chain so they can be raised and lowered to be watered or hang lower to be watered from the ground. I also am planning to try watermelon again this year with the hope that they can spread out on the roof of my house, thus providing shade for the roof and a space to spread out. I just need to figure out what kind of soil I'm going to use and how often I need to fertilize.

I also love the path to freedom site, but my first inspiration was from years ago...when reading Mother Earth news and seeing an article about the Integral Urban House.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Homes...rban-House.aspx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mto3b...this is something I have seen that could work in a small space... http://www.gardeners.com/-/5192%2Cdefault%...tml?SC=LNA7009A

 

I'm going to try and make one of these on my own... it's a fabric nursery pot... http://www.gardeners.com/Potato+Bag/36-629,default,pd.html

I have some landscape fabric and I am going to use chicken wire to reinforce..that way the water can go through and the wire will keep it from falling apart. I really want to be able to grow potatoes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone have an earthbox? I'm thinking that may be my garden. I'm thinking I could fit 5 onto my deck and that would work great for the three of us. I just need to decide what to plant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: sparkysarah
Does anyone have an earthbox? I'm thinking that may be my garden. I'm thinking I could fit 5 onto my deck and that would work great for the three of us. I just need to decide what to plant.


I made my own earth bozes last year

http://www.josho.com/gardening.htm

This year they have posted a new and improved homemade earth box
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/c...1044214330.html

I will use the same ones I used last year. However I will plant different stuff in them. I think I will try the 3 sister technique this year. The tomatoes loved them, the corn did okay but I think I had too much in one container. I did not have to water as often and had I mulched better I probably could have gone futher between watering.

This year I am making more boxes. Warning though if it is hot and dry in your area your container garden will cook real fast. Words of experience here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: dogmom4
Andrea, thanks for such a wonderful post! bighug
I have a half dozen containers of strawberries that went dormant over the winter but have been taking off with the weather warming up. Only one of lettuce that basically overwintered and survived the freeze we had.

Last year I tried the upside down tomato with little success. Not because it won't necessarily work, but, we had a pretty long stretch of over 100 degree days, I got sick and they all died for lack of watering. Plus, it was necessary to get on a ladder to water them because they were hung on the edges of the roof (flat roof). No one else but me wanted to get on the ladder 2 times a day to water. So, this year I plan to figure out a way to hang them from the roof but using a chain so they can be raised and lowered to be watered or hang lower to be watered from the ground. (snip)



http://www.dripworksusa.com/store/kitshop.php#tiptop

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all, I'm going to try this YET AGAIN. This is my 3rd attempt to post a response over the last few days.

 

Fritz - cool link to the newspaper pots. I'm already committed to recycled six-pack plastic containers, but those look great. I printed up the directions for my FAll seedlings.

 

MT3B - you go girl. Containers are a great way to go for those of us with limited space. And using gray water is the perfect way to get around water restrictions.

 

Have any of you checked out bluegrassmom's haybale link in the gardening section? Wow. I am so inspired. I have a section of yard where tree roots prevent any in-ground planting and my gardening budget for the year has already been blown to smithereens! But haybales are $5.00 each here and they are supposed to hold up for two years, plus you don't need much soil to fill them up with. So, I'm thinking a few tomatoes out of the top and then a bunch of impatiens shoved into the sides to sort of mask the hay. Very rustic and decorative. Check out the last link provided my bluegrassmom for some really great pics.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haybale gardening link to bluegrassmom's post: http://www.mrssurvival.com/forums/ubbthr...ge=1#Post190554

 

Potatoes: I've tried the barrel method of potato planting and wasn't too thrilled with the results. Also, it gets into the triple digits here so they take a lot of water for the amount of produce grown. This is my 4th year of potato planting. Personally, I'm not convinced that this is the best use of my gardening space. Potatoes are so cheap (just bought 15lbs for $1.99) and compared to other things, they need a bit more care and they take up a lot of space. But after reading and rereading Jeavons books, I've come to understand the need for growing calorie crops in my attempt to achieve partial sustainability. And potatoes and onions are the most efficient (space wise) calorie crop to grow. I have 7 - 2'x 6'(3'high) gardening boxes. I've devoted three of them to potatoes. In the past, I've almost emptied out the planters of dirt, leaving about 8" on the bottom. I then put in my potatoes and cover them with about 4" more of dirt, then throughout the season, I keep covering them as the greenery grows. This is back breaking work. My gardening section is on the South side of the house in a very narrow, very long area. There is no gate on that side of the lot. The only way in is to enter on the other side of the lot and go around the back of the house to reach the garden. This is a LOT of trips with the little red wagon! And to be quite honest, out of each 12 square foot section, I've been lucky to get 20 lbs of potatoes. In fact, that's the most I've ever gotten out of a section. This year, I left about a foot of dirt in the bottom, threw in my seed potatoes and filled up all three with one $5.00 bale of hay (and only ONE trip with the little red wagon). WE'll see how it goes. This year I also have 3 different varieties, Kennebec, little blue ones (can't remember the name!), and the Russetts. I'll keep you posted as the season progresses. But I can tell you that straw is much lighter to work with than dirt!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

dogmom4 - Thanks for the insight into the upside down tomatoes. We also get triple digit heat and I'm a bit worried about burning the roots of the plants. Watermelons on the roof?!? How fun! We have an ugly, ugly gardening shed. ONe side is covered in raspberries and the other side I usually plant in Little Sugar pumpkins. So, we did have pumpkins on the roof last summer, but what a fun conversation piece! Hmmm. Watermelons on the roof. . . (the neighbors already think I'm a bit nuts, this could confirm it!)

 

sparkysarah, I made a couple of Earthboxes for my dad, since he has limited mobility. They work out well for him, especially since we've raised them up on sawhorses. For myself, I was too lazy. I just used a bunch of 18gal totes, drilled LOTS of drainage holes, put in two inches of gravel in the bottom, and then filled them with planting mix and peat moss. They've been great. Not only do I grow the jerusalem artichokes in them, but I have several more that are currently planted with chard and spinach. I'm going to start converting some of them over to tomatoes and one will have two little sugar pumkins in it, which I'll grow up a trellis onto the roof of a shed. I can't say that they are all that pretty (check out the haybale pics!) but they are highly functional and I've had great luck with them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: Andrea
dogmom4 - Thanks for the insight into the upside down tomatoes. We also get triple digit heat and I'm a bit worried about burning the roots of the plants. Watermelons on the roof?!? How fun! We have an ugly, ugly gardening shed. ONe side is covered in raspberries and the other side I usually plant in Little Sugar pumpkins. So, we did have pumpkins on the roof last summer, but what a fun conversation piece! Hmmm. Watermelons on the roof. . . (the neighbors already think I'm a bit nuts, this could confirm it!)

sparkysarah, I made a couple of Earthboxes for my dad, since he has limited mobility. They work out well for him, especially since we've raised them up on sawhorses. For myself, I was too lazy. I just used a bunch of 18gal totes, drilled LOTS of drainage holes, put in two inches of gravel in the bottom, and then filled them with planting mix and peat moss. They've been great. Not only do I grow the jerusalem artichokes in them, but I have several more that are currently planted with chard and spinach. I'm going to start converting some of them over to tomatoes and one will have two little sugar pumkins in it, which I'll grow up a trellis onto the roof of a shed. I can't say that they are all that pretty (check out the haybale pics!) but they are highly functional and I've had great luck with them.


This is just a quick drive-by hugging of our wonderful guest teacher Andrea for taking the time to help in this sector. You are the best chica!!!

bighugcheerthankslois

Okay, back to your regular scheduled reading grin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a picture of my first box..kind of hard to see but, the tomato is already trying to turn itself up towards the sun after 2 days... And I cilantro seeds on the top...

1031-Multimedbucket.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Trish for the drip system idea. Sometimes it's right there in your face and you don't see it til someone else says it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: Andrea
sparkysarah, I made a couple of Earthboxes for my dad, since he has limited mobility. They work out well for him, especially since we've raised them up on sawhorses. For myself, I was too lazy. I just used a bunch of 18gal totes, drilled LOTS of drainage holes, put in two inches of gravel in the bottom, and then filled them with planting mix and peat moss. They've been great. Not only do I grow the jerusalem artichokes in them, but I have several more that are currently planted with chard and spinach. I'm going to start converting some of them over to tomatoes and one will have two little sugar pumkins in it, which I'll grow up a trellis onto the roof of a shed. I can't say that they are all that pretty (check out the haybale pics!) but they are highly functional and I've had great luck with them.


I think I'm going to try the 18 gallon tote idea...as the trees get taller I'm losing sunny areas. I have myself on the waiting list for our community gardens cuz i want to put up as much as i can this year.
And i second what Cookie said...thanks for all the great insight into what you are doing.

bighug

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just read this thread and the totes would work for me too. With inside growing, will need grow lights but wallyworld has some that are not too expensive. ... great ideas~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.