Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Container Gardening- making gardening possible for almost everyone!

If you are living in a small space (apartment, loft, condo, renting) and you don't have the ability to mangle and dig up your yard like I have done, don't worry- you can still garden! Do you have a patio, front porch, or deck? Container gardening is a fun, easy way to bring some "green" into your living space, and these days almost every gardening/home goods/hardware store has pots, plastic containers and even those neat hanging plants!

First, you want to know a few things:
  • How much space are you working with? Get out that measuring tape, yard stick, or ruler and size up your space! If you have any kind of simple shaped patio (a square or a rectangle), you can just measure the length of the outdoor space by the width. If you have some crazy angles going on, you might have to get a little creative. There are some formulas out there on how to calucate that area.         
  • What hardiness zone are you in? Depending on where you live and the climate and average temperatures, there are guidelines on when it's best to plant what. Find out your zone here:
  • How much light does your outdoor space get? 6 hours of daylight? 8 hours of daylight? Partial sun? Full Shade? Depending on the type of light you get and the amount, certain plants might be off limits to you, or might be really hard to grow succesfully. Check that out!

Second, envision what kind of space you want. For this part of the project, I find it helpful to browse through gardening magazines and websites. Get a vision of what kind of space you'd like, and also, what you want the function of that space to be. Are you a reader? Maybe you want a little chair out on your patio, and just a few flowers in pots to brighten up your reading space. Are you a tomato-lover? If so, maybe you want to get some pots or something like the Topsy Turvy Upside-Down Tomato Planter. Maybe you want to plant a variety of edibles. A cherry tomato, a strawberry planter, a pot with several bunches of leaf lettuce... you can pretty much plant anything in a container rather than in the ground, as long as the container is deep enough and wide enough.
  • Make sure you check out the light and space requirements for each plant you're planning on bringing home. Tomatoes need heat and light and shouldn't be planted until it's summer- June 1st is a safe date for zone 5b. Leafy greens can be planted earlier, as well as onions, potatoes, and garlic!
Third, get those containers! Once you've laid out the plan for how much space you have, how many plants you'd like to plant, how much space the plants need, and how you want those pots and containers arranged in your space, you are ready to actually do some purchasing! Many local garden stores and hardware stores as well have a large variety of clay pots, plastic planters, hanging planters, etc. Just make sure you are getting the appropriate sized container for the plant you want in there. Don't get a 3"x5" pot for a potato plant. It needs more depth, more space, and it won't grow to full potential in there. I think if you're investing the money, you might as well do it right! :)

Fourth, get those plants, and get some soil to keep them snug! There are a variety of places to get plants for your container garden. A lot of the big boxes stores have pretty flowers and some edible plants as well, and they are usually fairly good quality. I prefer supporting a local farm or nursery if possible- you can easily google "family farm" or "local vegetable plants" or "nursery + my city". No matter where you get your plants, just make sure you check the quality. In general, plants should have good color and turgidity (stems should be strong and upright and plant should not be wilting).

Fifth, plant those babies! Once you've got the plants, the soil, and you've got the containers, you are ready to plant! Fill the pots with enough soil that the plants is at a good height within the pot. When you're planting, for the most part, you don't want to drown the plant in soil. There's a good balance between making sure the roots are covered up and making sure the stem is not submerged in soil. The plant should have a tag that might give you some guidelines as well. You might have found plants that are already in cute containers to begin with, and in the case you don't even need to transplant anything! Make sure you water the plant well once it is settled into it's pot so it will thrive in it's new home. If you want to add a little fertilizer you can, but make sure you read the label carefully, and only apply the suggested amount- a teeny tiny bit! Fertilizer is a whole different lesson, folks :)

Woohoo! You now have a delightful container garden, reading area, shade garden, veggie plot, etc. Relax, enjoy, and don't forget to water! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tomatoes go in!

Today I got my tomato plants in the ground:
10 Amish Paste
1 Sun Coast
1 Snowberry
1 Black Cherry

Here they are:

Here's the whole garden:

Here's some strawberries- ahh!!

and my toes..

Raging potato plants:

Raspberries (just covered them with netting so birds don't eat them!)


Tomatoes :) mmm

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

'Tis the Season

the Season of Spring, that is!

These last few weeks have been Busy Busy Busy. Mostly with sophomore level math homework and teenage/25-year old angst. But also with my birthday celebration, fun times with the girls, family visiting, garden/yard work, etc.

Garden seems to be doing really well over all. I solved the disappearing strawberry plant problem by taking some wire tomato cages and wrapping landscape fabric around them- making a crappy sort of barrier. It's worked so far, knock on wood.

stuff is growing!! see the 'strawberry cages' I made?
strawberries are doing really well! These are the Allstars
flowers :)
Potato plants are growin' crazy! I think we have 27 plants?
Onions and lettuces are doing just fine
and Helo and Thene. Growin' crazy as well :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pest protection

So back to a homesteading topic- Pests!

Something is ripping up my strawberry plants. The actual plants themselves- there aren't even any berries or any beginnings of any fruit to eat! I found 5 plants just pulled out of the ground, and some of the stems were ripped off- but none of the plant actually seemed to be eaten.
Any guesses on what this might be? I'm thinking about getting netting but I'd like to have more than just a stab in the dark about what this is.

But look!:


Operation Move-in = Success!

(disclaimer- indirectly related to urban homesteading) :)

The girls moved in this weekend, and I may jut be speaking for myself, but I think we had a great time! I picked them up on Friday night and we picked up groceries together, selecting things we would all eat for the next several days/week. We made a couple of meals together, we played Taboo and Mad Gab and Cranium, we watched some movies... really, truly had a lot of fun. Sounds silly, but I'm always pleasantly surprised by how nice and friendly and warm Sam and Chels can be- when I was a teenager I was an ass to my parents. But then again, we're not their parents, so maybe that's some incentive?

Today was a big milestone- Sam had two Geometry worksheets, or subject-of-death worksheets as I like to call them. I HATED Geometry when I was in high school! So first, Sam actually told me she had homework which was a positive step haha, and then we actually completed all of it!! That's a big step for someone who has a tough time with math. And Geometry is so tricky- if you don't learn from the beginning, it's soo tought to build on those concepts. Sam got really frustrated at the beginning, and needed to take a break. But she came back to it after a nap with a lot of patience, and finished all two worksheets, showed her work and everything. She was receptive, she listened, and I think she even learned a little bit lol.

Anyway, just wanted to share that. My heart is ridiculous and it is bursting with sister/sudo-parental joy!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Garden update- Week 2

It's been two weeks since I planted most of the things in my garden, and everything seems to be doing really well! I have onions everywhere, both varieties of strawberries are going strong, lettuce is doing well, and I have little garlic shoot and potato plants coming up! Still waiting on carrots- I have a few little sprouts of growth but I can't really tell if it's carrots, or just little weeds haha!

Here's some updates photos:

I planted 4 Siberian kale plants and 4 celery plants today that I got from the farmer's market!
 this Glacier tomato is not looking too good.

Potato plants are coming up!!!

onions everywhere!

Strawberry plants are beginning to flower!

Garlic shoots comin up!

more potatoes :)

Garden view