Monday, July 6, 2009

My Edible Container Garden

I may have overdone it this year, but I was very enthusiastic and hopeful. I've got very little land that gets enough sun to grow an edible crop, so the vast majority of my edible garden is in containers. As of today, my edible garden now includes: lettuce, arugula, radish, beet, green onion, pea, strawberry, raspberry, red currant, chive, oregano, parsley, basil, mint, cilantro, chocolate mint, tomato, cucumber (straight 8 and pickling), bell pepper, cubanelle pepper. All but the raspberry and red currant are in containers!

I've got 18 sqft of "Square Foot Garden" in 3 planters attached to the outside of my deck railing. Despite all the claims by Mel Bartholomew in his book, All New Square Food Gardening, my plants have not done very well in them the previous two years. This year I added about 2 inches of compost to the top after planting and so far the plants are doing much better. Has anybody else tried square foot gardening? I was so excited about it after reading the book, but after a lot of money and effort, I've been pretty disappointed. Maybe it would be better if they were on the ground and were about to stay a little cooler or hold more water?

Since my hopes were sky high, I had to gather enough planters or pots for the rest of my babies. I've got alpine strawberries in hanging baskets, but everything else is in a pot or planter. I couldn't keep everything on the floor of my deck or we'd have no room for ourselves (although I think that is still becoming an issue), so I used some bungee cords to attach some pots to trellises I have on the driveway. I also got some window box brackets for two planters and nabbed an excellent deal on wall planters at 4 for $4 (reg. $6.99 ea). When I ran out of large pots for tomatoes, I used old drywall pails and drilled holes in the bottom for drainage. I managed to get a huge fiberglass planter for $15 at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Burlington (LOVE that place) which I'm hoping to use for a potted apple tree next year.

Everything is doing very well for the most part. I'm having to improvise as I discover problems, since my goal is to spend little to no money on the garden at this point. We've had huge amounts of rain, so I've had to water very little. When I do, I use the water from our at-capacity rain barrel. I spotted aphids on my tomatoes and have brewed a tomato leaf concoction to spray on the leaves, which should hopefully work. One pot of zucchini has fruit that is skinny at the blossom end (see pic below). I'm guessing it's because the terra cotta pot dries out more easily?

We did have a hail storm that tore holes in the leaves of practically everything, but they're all recovering nicely. My cilantro has bolted and now looked ridiculous, so I chopped it down. (I just read that this happens to cilantro in very et weather.) The lettuce and basil are still holding back and I'm trying to harvest as much as I can to prevent bolting. Something is eating my radish leaves, but they are still growing fine, so I'm ignoring it. I think my cat has been eating my green onion shoots although I haven't caught her in the act. Another issue I'm dealing with is finding space for my sprawling cucumber vines. I haven't figured out what to do for the planter boxes, but I've got to decide soon or they'll strangle my tomatoes and peppers! I think I'll let them trail over the railing onto a trellis and hopefully they won't burn where they touch the wood.

I decided to weigh my harvest for fun after I saw the weigh in at A Posse Ad Esse, but my less than 100g so far looks pretty silly compared to Paul Gardener's 48.22lbs. Next year I'll try pumpkins and really bring that number up!

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