Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 7

Growing Food

I know some of you out there are saying I have a black thumb. Or my association won’t let me have a garden. Well, did you know that there are several varieties of plants that you can grow in pots or even hide in among you perennials. Now is the time to see what you are able to do.  I consider myself to be the half-a$$ed gardener.  So I am not the best one for advice. But there are a ton of books on the subject and you could always contact your local extension office.

I have had a garden for the last 3 years. We will be revamping it this coming year. (If only I had more land). The area that I use to garden is on the south side of the house. It is in full sun all day and had no air circulation. With that being said I still get a great many things out of the garden. One of them being experience. The first year I did as the book said and had 16 tomato plants in each of the boxes. Then went down to 12. This year I did 9 per box and they were doing so good. ( See experience) I think I would have gotten at least 2 bushels. ( Had some problems with critters this year ).  I have a dwarf 5 in 1 apple tree in the ground and a dwarf 4 in 1 pear in a pot.  I now have 5 blueberry bushes growing in tires and two grape vines. Plus I have a bunch of mints, chives and sage all in pots. I also have Echinacea and lavender in the ground. I had raspberry’s but I dug them all up and put them at my mom’s house. I am also looking into hazelnuts or a walnut tree.

My best piece of advice here is to try, try and try again. Just because it doesn’t work this year doesn’t mean it won’t work the next. See what grows well in your neck of the woods and give it a try!

Need to Do or Get
  1. Get more Heirloom seeds
  2. Look into a nut tree / shrub
  3. Get lumber to re-do garden
  4. Try and find a 4 in 1 cherry tree
  5. Look into window farming for winter greens


Carolyn Renee said...

Walnuts take years & years to produce nuts, hazlenuts can produce in just a few. If you're short on space, I'd think the hazlenut bushes would be easier. Having said that, we have yet to order ours, but that's on the "do order" list this fall.

Yart said...

Thank you for the advice. I know I'm still waiting to order things too.

Deus Ex Machina said...

Let me warn you ... the squirrels and chipmunks will beat you to the hazelnuts!

We have a large beautiful bush that has been growing for a couple of years under the oil tank. We mowed it down for several years not knowing what it was. This year, we noticed hazelnuts. Then, we started looking around and found a half dozen more hazelnut bushes growing wild. I had one of our daughters count the hazelnuts on a single bush ... 22. A few days before I was going to pick them, I went back to look. They were all gone! From the half dozen bushes or so, I picked a meager, puny 4 hazelnuts.

I would investigate wild nuts in your area. If your space is limited, I recommend saving it for your very prolific tomatoes (see Food Storage).

We, too, tend to learn from our mistakes. You'll see in the livestock section.

Witchy Mom's Homeschool and Organic Gardens said...

I grow so much in containers! There are many different designs and ideas online you can use. I have 2 different types set up in 'totes' (you know, the storage totes you can buy at places like Walmart?):

1. Drilled totes: I drill about 6 drainage holes in the bottom, fill with a soil and compost mixture, and then just plant my plants. The soil is very deep, so plenty of drainage area (usually). I then mulch the top with things like dried leaves, lawn clippings, newspapers, whatever I have on hand to help keep weeds down.

2. Non-drainage Self-watering: the term self-watering is a little misleading. You are still going to drill 1 hole though: about 6-10 inches up from the ground level (I'll explain later...)

I take half-gallon (empty) milk jugs. I drill (but you could poke with a screwdriver if you're talented) a few holes on one side (I use as the 'top') and then I slice a slice with a knife thru the 'bottom'. I fill the bottom of the tote with a layer of these jugs...but don't CRAM them in - a little wiggle room is desired.

In one of the jugs (I pick a corner jug usually), I take plastic water bottles and cut the bottoms of them off, setting one inside the other and taping them together in a long line to form a watering tube, taping the seams together with sturdy, clear tape. I usually only make it high enough to come about 3/4 of the way up the side of the tote.

I cut a hole into that corner jug that is just big enough for the bottom water bottle to set it's spout end into the hole. I tape that into place. Then fill the entire tote with soil/compost, being sure soil falls within the sides and cracks between the jugs.

(there are descriptions online of this whole process with pics that might explain this better than I am now attempting to do).

The soil between the jugs will be what transports the water up through the soil. Be sure the top water bottle from the watering tube sticks up at least a couple inches above the soil level. Now fill the bottle, and keep filling. It will take a bit, because water needs to get into those milk jugs. When the soil has enough water in it, it will start to dribble out of the 6-10 inch high hole (called the over-flow hole). That's when you stop watering!

You can now walk away, and only water when the top of the soil is dry to the touch, and if you peek into the watering tube and cannot see much water down there. Go ahead and fill again to the over-flow point.

I find with the self-watering system, I only have to water about once a week (even less if it's rainy, of course).

Both kinds of totes have worked well for me. A nice advantage to these tote gardens is that you can move them to the perfect sunny spot. If you get loads and loads of rain, you can (carefully, and possibly with help!) lift the totes up onto a pallet or onto some logs to allow the totes to keep from getting too soggy and allow them to drain (if the ground below is already soggy, it will not let your tote drain, so that's why lifting them up in a real rainy patch can be helpful. Some of my plants, like strawberries, that do not like 'wet feet' I always keep up on pallets).

You can camoflage the totes with potted plants or low-lying bushes tucked around the base of the plants.