Archive for ‘Container Gardening’

April 3, 2012

C is for Crazy Containers! (Think outside the pot!)

C is for Crazy Containers!  (Think outside the pot!)

As we think about container gardens, we usually think “pots”.  But I hope to inspire you to give it a little more thought.

All of the pictures that you will see, were found on the web, but I’ve gathered them up for thee, and Barb and Jim and Deb.

So search out your closets, your attics, your Grammy’s, for anything could work as a “pot”, even a bra or jammies!?

Hanging Basket Herb Garden

Garden In a Bucket

DIY Rain Boots Garden On A Fence

Wine Crates

Bathtub Garden

Pallet Vertical Garden

Galvanized Containers

Wagon Fairy Garden

Suitcase Garden

Container Garden for the Fashion Conscious

Bra Garden

So there you have it, have you been inspired?

You’re next, what will you do?  What will you find that’s been retired?


September 28, 2011

Take note! (And plan for spring!)

Autumn is here.  It’s the time of year that I begin to reflect upon the past growing season for my entire yard including my veggie garden, fruit trees, vines, perennial beds, containers, lawn, etc.

This is the time to bust out that Garden Journal (or start one if you haven’t already) and jot a few things down.

What was the weather like? If you didn’t make note of it throughout the season, try to recall as best you can and jot it down.  Late spring, lots of rain early, intense heat in the middle of the summer (many 90+ degree days), followed by the first hard frost on Sept. 14th, with a dry, dry fall.  The weather impacts a lot of things in your yard and garden and it’s good to have an idea as to what took place in order to reflect on what plants liked and didn’t like.

What went well? Tomatoes?  It seems to be a toss-up depending on who you talk to.  Yesterday I took a visit to Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply in St Paul.  What a fun store!  (It is definitely getting added to my list of favorites!)  It’s a small store with pretty much everything you need for an Urban Garden including chickens and chicken supplies.  There weren’t any chickens there yesterday, but we were told that the baby chicks will be in around February or March.  In any case, we were discussing weather and tomatoes (as many gardeners do) and I found out that part of the issue with tomatoes this year was the heat.  However, it wasn’t what I was expecting to hear.  Apparently a lot of heirloom tomatoes don’t care for the intense heat while in bud stage, so many people growing heirlooms experienced bud drop this year, but those growing hybrids did not.  (A reason to grow a little of each.)  I grew both and I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay that close of attention to my tomatoes to take notice if or where buds dropped, but it does make sense because I did get far fewer tomatoes on my heirlooms than I did on my hybrids.

Another thing that did well were my containers on my front steps filled with all things edible – mostly herbs, but also strawberries and Nasturtiums.  All of them went gangbusters.  The key?  Go large – really large on containers.  You will be able to put a lot of plants in without stressing them because there will be enough soil and the container will maintain the moisture much longer than smaller pots do.

What didn’t go so well?  See tomatoes, above.  See also Cabbage, Broccoli, Peas… (see weather, above).

Who’s gotten too big for their britches?  Well, let’s see… for me it would be a mix… raspberries, Monarda and asparagus are quite obvious contenders in this category as, quite honestly, are all of my perennial beds.  I didn’t get out in them enough this year and they definitely need some love.

Who didn’t make it?  Where are the holes that need filling? Which combinations didn’t work together? Who didn’t play well together? Who overstayed their welcome? Who simply needs a new home? You get the idea…

If I take a look at all of my notes while everything is fresh in my mind, I can start a game plan for next year.  I know it sounds insane to be thinking about spring when autumn just started last week, but it really is much easier to plan for next year while you still remember what happened this year!


June 7, 2011

Water, water, water!

We’ve had record-breaking temps in the Twin Cities the past couple of days. This weather is tough.  It literally feels like a blast furnace to us and most of us aren’t outside all day and night.

This is the kind of weather that really tests Darwin’s theory or evolution and truly the strongest (healthiest and most fit) will survive.  Plants and trees have no respite right now, so they really need us.  We all need to do our part to keep our plants and trees well watered right now, not only to keep them moist, but on these really hot days, their roots need cooling too.  Container plants especially need their roots cooled.  Remember a few days ago I was mentioning that it’s great that the soil in containers heats faster than the soil in the ground because you can get a jump-start on seed germination and plant growth?  Well, here we are, less than a week later and I get to remind you that there’s a down side to containers as well.  The soil in containers heats faster than the soil in the ground… On days like today when temps are over 100 degrees the soil temperature in containers is soaring as well.  If your plants look limp, but the soil is still wet, please give your plants a drink anyway.  Just like us, they may not be thirsty so much as just too hot.  The cool water will help cool their roots and get them back to a comfortable temperature, lessening the stress on the plant.

As if these temps alone aren’t enough to torture plants and trees, add dry air and high wind and we’re asking a lot of our green friends.

And now for a little plant biology. 🙂  Much like human perspiration, plants lose water through openings on their leaves in a process called transpiration.  The rate of transpiration (loss of water) is affected by humidity in the air, wind, air temperature and light intensity. The drier the air, the higher the wind, the higher temperature and the more intense the light is will increase the rate of transpiration/loss of water.

So… on hot days, water.  On dry days, water.  On windy days, water. And on hot, dry, windy days… please, please water!


May 27, 2011

Planting time!

Memorial weekend, garden calendar, garden notebook.  What do all of these things have in common?  It’s time to plant!

By now we should be in the clear as far as frosty nights are concerned, but the other key factor to seed germination and plant growth is warm soil.  Each seed needs certain conditions to grow, warm season crops and tender crops typically need the soil temp to be 60 – 85 degrees in order to germinate whereas cool season crops only need it to be around 40 degrees.  Granted we’ve had a crazy spring, (although growing up in Minnesota, I’m not really sure what a “normal” spring would look like!) but the soil temperatures over the last week or so have been hovering in the low to mid 60s in Central Minnesota, so it’s basically a green light to plant.  As the soil continues to warm, the seeds will germinate and the plants will begin to grow.

One thing to keep in mind if you’re doing container gardening is that the soil in the containers warms and cools more drastically than the soil in the ground.  What this means is that they truly benefit from a warm, sunny day now because the soil will warm faster, likewise later in the summer they will continue to warm faster, which is why some plants tend to wilt in pots.  The soil in containers will  also cool significantly faster as well.  This is part of the reason why container gardens typically need more attention than plants in the ground, but that’s another subject all together.

So, now’s the time to pop those warm season crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. in the ground.    If you haven’t started your own seeds earlier in the season, buy seedlings or more mature plants from local plant sales or garden centers.  Warm season crops have a long growing period.  If you plant these from seed now, they won’t have enough time to grow and produce fruit before frost in the fall.

Now is also a good time to plant the tender crops like cucumbers, pumpkins, melons and squash.  These, unlike warm season crops can be planted by seed now.  To help them germinate more quickly, you can cover them with hot caps (a.k.a. Hot Kaps, Hotkaps) to help warm the soil and get them to germinate faster.  Remove the cap when they are  growing vigorously.

If you haven’t already done so, you can also plant: beans (bush, pole, dry, lima), beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce (leaf and head), parsley, potatoes and sweet corn.

I wish you a happy holiday weekend and happy planting!