Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Container Gardening

I remember many summers spent planting seeds, weeding, and enjoying the delicious taste of fresh, home-grown produce.
I think I've mentioned that my Mom home schooled all five of us kids for several years. She was always looking for different ways we could learn things, so school was kind of year-round. We didn't always have the book work, but she liked being able to use things (like gardening) to share with the State how and what we were learning.
I remember we had a couple of areas around the garage to plant, but the space wasn't very large and my Dad didn't have the time (or maybe he didn't want to) to dig up more of our just acre-sized yard. Our neighbors had a larger garden area and after Mr. Mustico passed, his wife was more than happy to let us use it. Those summers, my favorite things to grow were corn and beans!

Since I've been moved out for a while (and my family stopped gardening years ago), I was missing the lettuce that was always ready to be cut and eaten. Last year, I decided that I really wanted to try growing some veggies, but I didn't want to ask my landlord if I could dig up the yard... I started reading all about container gardens and decided that was exactly what I would do!

I already had an old, slightly broken trunk that I could repurpose and I could almost see the lettuce growing in it.
I also planted tomatoes and zucchini. For the zucchini, I used some boxes that I had left over from moving and painted them to hide "Captain Crunch."
Although the tomatoes didn't do as well as I'd hoped, the zucchini produced enough for me to share with several people!

This year, I was excited to get planting again. I still had the trunk from last year, and my sister found me another trunk at a garage sale (I'm still looking for more!). I knew I wanted the same three veggies, but maybe with the extra trunk, I could do more.
I asked my dad to help me create chicken-wire-bottoms that wouldn't fall through, like last year. And for the smaller trunk, he drilled holes in the bottom to allow drainage.

I then lined the chicken-wire-bottom with newspaper so that the dirt wouldn't fall through and water could still drain. And filled the trunks with dirt. The large trunk used two 40 lb. bags of potting soil; the smaller trunk was about one and a half bags.

I didn't really want to paint cardboard boxes again; and while they worked well last summer, the clean-up was a bit of a mess. So, I decided to use the large trunk to hold both zucchini plants and planted the salad mix in something a little smaller - after summer clearance is a great time to buy planters if you don't have them already!

Ok, so here's a "before" picture of where I put all the plants...
so many weeds and what's that mess of bricks the previous tenants left?
I wanted to make this area a little nicer, but was hesitant after my last attempt when planting tiger lilies. Once I started pulling out the bricks, I realized there was great dirt there - a perfect spot to easily plant tomatoes!
I've read several from several sources that marigolds near tomato plants helps with a variety of things; so I've got four tomato plants and marigolds on either side of them. We'll see if they do better than last year.
I haven't decided what to plant in the small trunk yet...
Do you think I should try green beans? peppers? carrots??
I even have more small containers that I could probably use. As someone else said, container gardening is addicting - I don't want to get into too much. I know that my biggest struggle last year was watering, but this year I have a hose hooked up and it should make it a lot easier than filling the watering can inside several times for one watering cycle!

Being still new to this, it is definitely a learning process, but it's such a great excuse to be outside every day that I'm able to find much more patience. And watching a zucchini turn from a flower to the size of my 11-year-old nephew's calf is a pretty awesome thing!


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