Comments on: The Joys of the Container, or Why Lack of Soil Is No Barrier http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/ Sharon Astyk's Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future Wed, 11 Feb 2009 08:27:57 +0000 #?v=2.3.2 By: motheroftwo http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17199 motheroftwo Tue, 10 Feb 2009 02:19:23 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17199 Check out ollas. They are great and require so little water. Not a lot of information out there, but they have been showing up at a local Whole Foods. They were used in ancient civilizations. A group in New Mexico makes them in several different sizes. Check out ollas. They are great and require so little water. Not a lot of information out there, but they have been showing up at a local Whole Foods. They were used in ancient civilizations. A group in New Mexico makes them in several different sizes.

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By: WNC Observer http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17143 WNC Observer Fri, 06 Feb 2009 16:05:26 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17143 I actually have 3 gardens: an increasing number of raised beds in my yard, a plot at our community garden, and an increasing number of containers on our deck. I grow all of our tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, summer squash, and cukes in containers on the deck, for two reasons: 1) that is the sunniest place on our property, sunnier than any of the raised beds; and 2) I can conveniently water them twice a day (vs. often only once/week at the community garden). Thus, containers on the deck are the best place for me to grow these fruiting vegetables that require lots of sunlight and water. For the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants I have fabricated my own self-watering containers, using pairs of 5 gal barrels. The bottom barrel is the water reservoir, the top barrel holds the soil and plant. A length of PVC pipe runs through a hole in the lid and a hole in the bottom of the top barrel so that I can add water to the reservoir. A larger hole in the bottom of the top barrel has a smaller plastic tub or cup fitted in it, with slits all around the sides, and filled with rags; this is what wicks the water from the reservoir up into the growing medium. There is a large hole in the center of the lid ljust large enough for the plant to grow through; having the lid on serves the same function as mulch in minimizing evaporation and weeds. I also have a hole in the side of the lower reservoir barrel, with a plastic tube to provide drainage in case I overfill. These are pretty inexpensive to fabricate and work great. I also have a few self-watering hanging containers, where I grow cherry tomatoes. For my cukes, I am using those Earth Boxes with the trellis attachment. These are expensive but are well built and I expect to use them the rest of my life. I've been buying one per year and have two now, eventually I hope to have several. For the Zuchini and Yellow Squash I am using very large tub planters; these I got from a local garden club, they originally held shade trees that were planted for a community project. These are not self watering, but they are so large that I have found that they will hold plenty of moisture between daily waterings. I have gotten some more tubs this year, and I am going to try growing some Minnesota Midget melons in these as well. I also grow various annual and perennial herbs in containers on my deck, and have a couple of large-ish containers where I try to get an extra early and extra late crop of bush snap beans to extend my season. This year I have also invested in several self-watering windowboxes, which I am going to mount on the deck rail. I plan to grow some crops that are smallish and require a lot of work in these. For example, green onions and radishes; we only need a few at a time, which means that I need to be constantly planting on a succession schedule. It will be more convenient for me to tend to these in one of these window boxes, and they will also get the constant watering that they need. One more experiment I am going to try this year is potatoes in containers. I have several large containers which I am going to try. I won't have enough space on my deck for these, so I'll try these on the ground just below my deck rail. They will still get a lot of sun, and I can water them from the deck along with my other container plants. One experiment that has not worked out very well is strawberries. I have experimented with both regular and alpine strawberries, and with both strawberry pots and a newer pyramid planter. The yields have been pretty poor. If there is a secret to having abundant container strawberies, I haven't found it yet. I actually have 3 gardens: an increasing number of raised beds in my yard, a plot at our community garden, and an increasing number of containers on our deck. I grow all of our tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, summer squash, and cukes in containers on the deck, for two reasons: 1) that is the sunniest place on our property, sunnier than any of the raised beds; and 2) I can conveniently water them twice a day (vs. often only once/week at the community garden). Thus, containers on the deck are the best place for me to grow these fruiting vegetables that require lots of sunlight and water.

For the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants I have fabricated my own self-watering containers, using pairs of 5 gal barrels. The bottom barrel is the water reservoir, the top barrel holds the soil and plant. A length of PVC pipe runs through a hole in the lid and a hole in the bottom of the top barrel so that I can add water to the reservoir. A larger hole in the bottom of the top barrel has a smaller plastic tub or cup fitted in it, with slits all around the sides, and filled with rags; this is what wicks the water from the reservoir up into the growing medium. There is a large hole in the center of the lid ljust large enough for the plant to grow through; having the lid on serves the same function as mulch in minimizing evaporation and weeds. I also have a hole in the side of the lower reservoir barrel, with a plastic tube to provide drainage in case I overfill. These are pretty inexpensive to fabricate and work great.

I also have a few self-watering hanging containers, where I grow cherry tomatoes.

For my cukes, I am using those Earth Boxes with the trellis attachment. These are expensive but are well built and I expect to use them the rest of my life. I’ve been buying one per year and have two now, eventually I hope to have several.

For the Zuchini and Yellow Squash I am using very large tub planters; these I got from a local garden club, they originally held shade trees that were planted for a community project. These are not self watering, but they are so large that I have found that they will hold plenty of moisture between daily waterings. I have gotten some more tubs this year, and I am going to try growing some Minnesota Midget melons in these as well.

I also grow various annual and perennial herbs in containers on my deck, and have a couple of large-ish containers where I try to get an extra early and extra late crop of bush snap beans to extend my season.

This year I have also invested in several self-watering windowboxes, which I am going to mount on the deck rail. I plan to grow some crops that are smallish and require a lot of work in these. For example, green onions and radishes; we only need a few at a time, which means that I need to be constantly planting on a succession schedule. It will be more convenient for me to tend to these in one of these window boxes, and they will also get the constant watering that they need.

One more experiment I am going to try this year is potatoes in containers. I have several large containers which I am going to try. I won’t have enough space on my deck for these, so I’ll try these on the ground just below my deck rail. They will still get a lot of sun, and I can water them from the deck along with my other container plants.

One experiment that has not worked out very well is strawberries. I have experimented with both regular and alpine strawberries, and with both strawberry pots and a newer pyramid planter. The yields have been pretty poor. If there is a secret to having abundant container strawberies, I haven’t found it yet.

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By: knutty knitter http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17137 knutty knitter Fri, 06 Feb 2009 10:54:31 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17137 Came across an interesting article in the local paper about a week back. It was mostly concerned with alternate power but it also had a photo of a vege garden grown entirely in old bathtubs. There were over twenty of them - I've forgotten the exact number but they looked very interesting. Apparently they keep the rabbits out amongst other things and rabbits are a bit of a problem round here. They would be easy to cover with netting or glass too I'm thinking. I made our new window boxes out of old kitchen drawers. The handles are at the back and are hooked onto nails (large) so they are secure but lift off when necessary. They have been very successful so far. viv in nz Came across an interesting article in the local paper about a week back. It was mostly concerned with alternate power but it also had a photo of a vege garden grown entirely in old bathtubs. There were over twenty of them - I’ve forgotten the exact number but they looked very interesting. Apparently they keep the rabbits out amongst other things and rabbits are a bit of a problem round here. They would be easy to cover with netting or glass too I’m thinking.

I made our new window boxes out of old kitchen drawers. The handles are at the back and are hooked onto nails (large) so they are secure but lift off when necessary. They have been very successful so far.

viv in nz

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By: Claire http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17132 Claire Fri, 06 Feb 2009 01:46:04 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17132 I am keeping bananas in containers. I don't know the variety, probably a dwarf, maybe Dwarf Cavendish. I was given the start and it didn't come with a variety name. Here in Missouri, we drag the containers out of the basement sometime in April and drag them back into the basement sometime in October. We've gotten a few small fruits. Not really worth it from a food standpoint, but kind of fun anyway. It's not uncommon to see bananas planted in front yards out here, but they have to be planted in April and dug up in October, to be kept in the basement, dormant, over winter. Keeping them in containers is less work. I have plenty of containers but they are mostly for pretty flowers. The exceptions are a few non-hardy herbs (bay, rosemary, scented geranium), the bananas, and four citrus trees (Bearss lime, kumquat, Meyer lemon, and navel orange). The navel orange refuses to flower and fruit though it seems healthy. I've been nursing the lemon along; it still seems too small to fruit. The kumquat and lime fruit reliably. The citrus plants are so big they have to spend the cold months in the basement, which is too cold and dark for growth and may be why the orange doesn't fruit. The other containers are crowded around four different windows in the house. When we glass in the south facing porch, I'll be able to keep the herbs, citrus, and bananas there, and they should be happier. I am keeping bananas in containers. I don’t know the variety, probably a dwarf, maybe Dwarf Cavendish. I was given the start and it didn’t come with a variety name. Here in Missouri, we drag the containers out of the basement sometime in April and drag them back into the basement sometime in October. We’ve gotten a few small fruits. Not really worth it from a food standpoint, but kind of fun anyway. It’s not uncommon to see bananas planted in front yards out here, but they have to be planted in April and dug up in October, to be kept in the basement, dormant, over winter. Keeping them in containers is less work.

I have plenty of containers but they are mostly for pretty flowers. The exceptions are a few non-hardy herbs (bay, rosemary, scented geranium), the bananas, and four citrus trees (Bearss lime, kumquat, Meyer lemon, and navel orange). The navel orange refuses to flower and fruit though it seems healthy. I’ve been nursing the lemon along; it still seems too small to fruit. The kumquat and lime fruit reliably. The citrus plants are so big they have to spend the cold months in the basement, which is too cold and dark for growth and may be why the orange doesn’t fruit. The other containers are crowded around four different windows in the house. When we glass in the south facing porch, I’ll be able to keep the herbs, citrus, and bananas there, and they should be happier.

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By: Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » The Joys of the Container, or Why … | www.dwarfs.ca http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17121 Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » The Joys of the Container, or Why … | www.dwarfs.ca Thu, 05 Feb 2009 22:06:39 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17121 [...] the rest here: Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » The Joys of the Container, or Why ... Share and [...] […] the rest here: Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » The Joys of the Container, or Why … Share and […]

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By: Sarah http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17120 Sarah Thu, 05 Feb 2009 21:53:49 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17120 I'm thinking of getting a kaffir lime tree, since I wouldn't need to give it enough sun to fruit. And maybe some aloe. Are there any other useful/edible plants that don't need much sun? I’m thinking of getting a kaffir lime tree, since I wouldn’t need to give it enough sun to fruit. And maybe some aloe.

Are there any other useful/edible plants that don’t need much sun?

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By: Pat Meadows http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17116 Pat Meadows Thu, 05 Feb 2009 17:53:55 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17116 Thank you for the kind words, Sharon. But here's a more up-to-date, and more informative, article I wrote on SWCs (Self-Watering Containers). www.meadows.pair.com/swcreport.html It's considerably better to use this URL. Thanks! I have just resigned as ListOwner of the Edible Container Gardening List, by the way, although I'm still a moderator there. The new owner is named Kelly and she is doing a very fine job with the list. It has developed into a very informative and useful list. Even if people don't want email from a busy list (and it is a busy list), there's considerable information in the Files Section of the list, and they could join on a no-mail basis. It's valuable info, especially for beginners. Cheers, Pat Thank you for the kind words, Sharon.

But here’s a more up-to-date, and more informative, article I wrote on SWCs (Self-Watering Containers).

http://www.meadows.pair.com/swcreport.html

It’s considerably better to use this URL.

Thanks!

I have just resigned as ListOwner of the Edible Container Gardening List, by the way, although I’m still a moderator there. The new owner is named Kelly and she is doing a very fine job with the list.

It has developed into a very informative and useful list. Even if people don’t want email from a busy list (and it is a busy list), there’s considerable information in the Files Section of the list, and they could join on a no-mail basis. It’s valuable info, especially for beginners.

Cheers,
Pat

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By: Paul http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17115 Paul Thu, 05 Feb 2009 17:13:09 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17115 I just have to comment on this line: "You can use anything that hasn’t been used for something toxic as a container - we grow plants in old boots, in cooking pots with holes - after a while, everything is a potential garden pot." N.B. - old boots may have been used for something toxic, or at least toxic smelling. PU! I just have to comment on this line:

“You can use anything that hasn’t been used for something toxic as a container - we grow plants in old boots, in cooking pots with holes - after a while, everything is a potential garden pot.”

N.B. - old boots may have been used for something toxic, or at least toxic smelling. PU!

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By: Greenpa http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17114 Greenpa Thu, 05 Feb 2009 17:11:35 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17114 I've got a whole greenhouse business - full of containers! So obviously I agree they've got big advantages. Just one "but" - you do need to have the right kind of personality for good success here. Containers require regular attention. No matter how "self" watering. And they're quite inflexible about it. When it's time to provide them with water- they've GOT to have water- or, all your work will be wilted and dead by tomorrow. If you have only one garden person- and that person gets sick, or is called away for a week- you can lose everything; where if your plants are in a regular garden, they will likely survive, even if slowed down by weeds and other problems. Done well, the results are well worth it. I think there's a substantial personality aspect to it though; some folks are just not going to really be able to make it work for them. One "oops" is one too many. I’ve got a whole greenhouse business - full of containers! So obviously I agree they’ve got big advantages.

Just one “but” - you do need to have the right kind of personality for good success here.

Containers require regular attention. No matter how “self” watering. And they’re quite inflexible about it. When it’s time to provide them with water- they’ve GOT to have water- or, all your work will be wilted and dead by tomorrow.

If you have only one garden person- and that person gets sick, or is called away for a week- you can lose everything; where if your plants are in a regular garden, they will likely survive, even if slowed down by weeds and other problems.

Done well, the results are well worth it. I think there’s a substantial personality aspect to it though; some folks are just not going to really be able to make it work for them. One “oops” is one too many.

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By: KF http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17113 KF Thu, 05 Feb 2009 17:10:07 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/05/the-joys-of-the-container-or-why-lack-of-soil-is-no-barrier/#comment-17113 The best source I've found for potted indoor citrus trees is Four Winds Growers, based in CA (http://www.fourwindsgrowers.com). They have dwarf citrus only, and a HUGE selection of different plants. I've ordered a half dozen trees from them to be grown in containers indoors and the plants are always large, healthy, and beautiful. Several of them have arrived with bud fruit or flowers. They also have the best prices on types like Kaffir limes and yuzu, which are hard to find. The best source I’ve found for potted indoor citrus trees is Four Winds Growers, based in CA (http://www.fourwindsgrowers.com). They have dwarf citrus only, and a HUGE selection of different plants. I’ve ordered a half dozen trees from them to be grown in containers indoors and the plants are always large, healthy, and beautiful. Several of them have arrived with bud fruit or flowers. They also have the best prices on types like Kaffir limes and yuzu, which are hard to find.

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