Archive for the ‘container gardening’ Category

How to build a planter box

Step 1: Build the Frames

Build the top and bottom frames out of the 1×2 cedar strips. You’ll be butting the ends together, so no mitering will be necessary. Fasten two 26″ strips to two 13″ strips to form each rectangular frame. (You’ll need to ensure that the length remains 26″; to do this, butt the ends of the shorter strip against the longer strips. The thickness of the two longer strips will add an inch to each end of the shorter strips, increasing their length to 16″. Do this at each end of the longer strips to form a rectangular frame 26″ long and 16″ wide.) Apply a bead of wood glue to the junctions of the strips; then nail together with a single nail in each junction in preparation for inserting screws to hold them more securely. Predrill the ends prior to screwing them together; this helps keep the ends from splitting. Then insert a screw in each corner.

Step 2: Attach the Side Panels

Stand the two frames on their sides and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom side frames (the long sides). Attach four side panels to each long side, smooth sides out, and nail from the inside to hold them in place. Make sure the frames are flush with the panel ends on at least one side, or the bottom panels won’t fit properly. If the panels are jagged on the other side, you can always smooth them with a trim saw later.
Because you’re nailing from the inside, you may have to drive the nails at a slight angle. The advantage of this is that it conceals the nailheads from the exterior face of the window box. Repeat on the other side of the box.

Step 3: Attach the End Panels

Stand the half-completed box on its end and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom end frames. Attach two panels to each end in the same manner that you used to attach the side panels, once again ensuring that the ends are flush on the bottom. Repeat the process on the opposite end.

Step 4: Attach the Bottom Panels

Check and adjust your box for square if necessary. Attach three bottom panels to form the base of the planter box, using wood glue and screws. The base will reinforce and brace the box. Drill several holes in the panels so that water can escape, or simply leave a gap between the panels.

Step 5: Finish the Box

Lightly sand any rough edges and corners to smooth out splinters. If you wish, you can stain, seal or prime and paint your planter to suit your home’s decor. Because you used cedar, however, it can stay unfinished: cedar is one of the best lumbers you can use for exterior applications. This planter is a good size for potted plants, but you may wish to add a plastic liner and fill it with soil (add a layer of gravel first). If you do, don’t forget to cut holes in the liner to line up with the drainage holes in the bottom of the planter.

Growing a Vertical Garden

Vertical garden

 

 

1

  • Start any gardening project in spring, when air temperatures rise to 60 degrees F. Vertical garden vegetables don’t need warm soil, but do require frost-free nights.

  • 2

    Choose your wall for the garden. Put the vertical garden in a spot that gets full sunshine all day, with good air circulation and protection from any drying winds.

  • 3

  • Use deep, sturdy rain gutters for the vertical garden, to give vegetables room for growth and support. Cut the rain gutters to fit on the wall you choose, and build at least three to four “stories” of gardening space. Drill holes every 10 inches in the bottom of the gutters, to ensure drainage.

  • 4

    Secure the gutters to the wall with eye hooks, screws or nails every 6 inches. Leave 2 to 3 feet of space between each layer of gutters to give the plants room to grow.

  • 5

    Mix organic compost, peat moss and potting soil in equal parts as your planting mix. This mix gives the vegetables plenty of nutrition and drainage. Fill the gutters full of your mixture, then turn starter fertilizer such as 6-24-24 or 8-32-16 into the top 4 inches of soil to provide more nutrition.

  • 6

    Plant small, compact vegetables in a vertical garden to minimize space usage and avoid stressing the structure. Plant lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, herbs, beets, peas, carrots, garlic, onions and radishes. Choose only small tomato, cucumber, bean and pepper cultivars. Also plant flowers in with vegetables to make the garden more attractive.

How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden

Post image for How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden

Good news and bad news. I had planned to film a short video showing you how to make a pallet garden, but the weather didn’t cooperate. I was stapling the landscape fabric onto the pallet when it started drizzling and got really windy. That’s the bad news. But I know I promised a tutorial today, so I took photos and have kept my word to share how to make the pallet garden. I tried to be as detailed as possible. That’s the good news.

So keep reading my pallet loving friends, instructions on how to make your own pallet garden are just a few lines away…

Find a Pallet

The first thing you need to do is–obviously–find a pallet. I’ve had good luck finding them in dumpsters behind supermarkets. No need to be squeamish. It doesn’t smell. At least, it doesn’t smell that bad.  Don’t just take the first pallet you find. You’re looking for one with all the boards in good condition, no nails sticking out, no rotting, etc. If you intend to put edibles in your pallet, be sure to find one that was heat treated as opposed to fumigated with pesticides.

Collect Your Supplies

For this project, you’ll need the pallet you found, 2 large bags of potting soil, 16 six packs of annual flowers (one six pack per opening on the face of the pallet, and two six packs per opening on the top of the completed pallet garden), a small roll of landscape fabric, a staple gun, staples, and sand paper.

Get Your Pallet into Shape

Once you’ve dragged your pallet home, give it a once over. Are any of the boards a little loose? Is the wood chipping in places? Nail down any loose boards, and use sand paper to smooth down any rough spots.

Let the Stapling Begin!

Decide which side of the pallet will be the bottom when the pallet garden is completed and leaning against the wall. You are going to be covering the bottom, back, and sides with landscape fabric, leaving  the spaces between the slats and the top uncovered (you’ll be planting flowers in the uncovered spaces).

Lay the pallet face down. Roll the landscape fabric over the back. Cut two identically sized pieces that are long enough to go from the top edge of the back of the pallet and wrap all the way around the bottom, plus a few extra inches.

Hold the two pieces of landscape fabric together as if they were one piece of fabric. Fold over the top edge by one inch and center it on the top board of the back of the pallet. Staple the fabric into place near the top edge of the top board. Smooth the fabric out to the left and right and pull it taut. Staple the fabric down on the top, right edge of the top board. Repeat on the left side. Fill in between those three staples with one staple every two inches along the top edge of the top board.

When the top of the landscape fabric is securely attached to the top, back board, smooth the fabric down, and repeat the process along the bottom edge of the bottom board, except don’t fold the fabric under, leave a long flap on the bottom.

Pulling the fabric tautly along the bottom, fold the cut edge under, and staple the fabric down along the front edge of the bottom. Smooth the fabric out to the left and right and staple every two inches along the front edge of the bottom.

Now for the sides. Start near the bottom and fold the excess fabric inwards as if you were wrapping a present. Fold the cut edge of the fabric under and staple it down near the front, bottom edge of the side facade. Smooth the fabric out and place a staple every two inches along the front edge of the side of the pallet. The fabric should be taut but not in danger of tearing. Repeat on the other side of the pallet.

You should now have a pallet with landscape fabric wrapped around the sides, back, and bottom. Place more staples along the spine of the back side of the pallet, and anywhere else you think the fabric needs to be held down so that soil can’t creep into places you don’t want it to go.

Now for the Fun Part–Planting!

Bring the pallet close to wherever it’s final spot will be and lay it down face up. You’re going to plant it while it’s laying flat on the ground.

First slide the plants into what will be the top. Plant everything very tightly, you should have to practically shoe horn the last plant into place. Now that you have capped the top, pour the entire first bag of potting soil on top of the pallet. Push the soil into the pallet between the slats and smooth it out so that the soil is level. Repeat with the second bag of potting soil.

Push potting soil into the bottom cavity, so that there is a trench directly below one of the bottom openings. Plant six plants in the trench, so that they are very tightly fitted into the opening. Repeat with the other bottom opening. Now push the potting soil up against those flowers you just planted, making a trench beneath one of the openings in the second row. Plant your flowers tightly in that opening. Repeat for all the remaining openings.

When you’re done planting, you should have plants that are completely covering every opening (i.e. there shouldn’t be any place for soil to fall out). There should also be soil firmly pushed into every part of the pallet where there aren’t plants.

Caring For your Pallet

Now, I’m going to tell you what you should do, and I what I always end up doing (which is what you should not do). You should leave the pallet flat on the ground for a couple of weeks (watering when needed), so that the roots can start to grow in and hold all the plants in place. I can never wait though, so I always tip the pallet upright a few days after planting. Some soil does fall out, but it seems to be okay. But I think it would be better if you left it to settle and only tipped it upright after a few weeks. Do as I say, not as I do.

Water your pallet regularly, they dry out quickly. Pay special attention to the bottom two openings, they seem to be the driest. Fertilize with water soluble fertilizer added to your watering can (follow package instructions for amount and frequency).

Growing Herbs

Alice May Brock, who inspired Arlo Guthrie’s famous ’60s song, Alice’s Restaurant, knew that flavor is key to culinary culture: “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”

For those who love the flavor of the Italian countryside, with its fresh vegetables and savory pasta, there is no better way to dabble in cuisine than by growing your own herbs. Dried remnants of a previous harvest can’t hold up to the fresh bunches from the market. But even the slightly wilted market clippings can’t rival the unique bite of freshly picked herbs.

The reason they’re so different? The moment you pick an herb, its aromatic oils begin to evaporate through tiny pores in the leaves. Even those bought at today’s farmer’s market will have already lost some of their punch.

If you’re a novice gardener or have just a little space, follow Brock’s advice and plant some oregano. It is the quintessential Italian flavor, derived from a tough perennial that will last for years. They’re also so vigorous they’re downright hard to kill, so even a rank beginner will find success.

Oregano is the herb for spaghetti sauce and homemade pizza. It’s a tough little ground-hugging perennial that goes by Oreganum vulgaris, which is hardy to Zone 5. Mediterranean in origin, it will tolerate a surprising amount of heat and drought. Don’t worry about soil, because these plants are native to dry rocky soils, so beware of overwatering, particularly in heavy clay soils. To ensure the highest oil content, oregano requires at least a half-day of direct sun daily, preferably more.

These plants spread underground stems. If you know someone with an established herb garden or patch, chances are he or she will be happy to dig you up a clump. Just replant in full sun and well-drained soil to start your own source. If you are given more than a single clump, spot the oregano into various places around your landscaping to provide a much larger source for cutting.

If you live in a climate colder than Zone 5, you can try a different approach with this fast-growing perennial. At the end of the season — after frost comes, but before the ground freezes — dig your oregano and pot it up to bring indoors for the winter.

Where it is hardy, oregano will die back to the ground with the first frost of fall. It remains dormant until spring temperatures rise enough to stimulate new sprouts from the roots. For this reason, many gardeners cut their oregano to the ground in late fall to harvest and dry the foliage.

While you can dry oregano by hanging it in upside-down bundles, it’s so short-stemmed this isn’t the most efficient choice. The best way is to use an old window screen. Take the freshly cut oregano pieces apart, then strip the leaves from the hard stems. Scatter the leaves on the screen in a single layer. Place the screen in a dark, well-ventilated place such as a garage or closet for a week or two. This allows the leaves to maintain their oils while slowly drying out. Drying herbs in the sun is tempting because it’s quicker, but much of the flavor will be lost to evaporation. Once it is dry, store oregano in an airtight container to prevent further evaporation of the oils.

Container Gardens

Gardening is a hobby that is becoming more and more popular for many reasons. Vegetables grown at home are less expensive, often more flavorful and the home gardener can control what chemicals come into contact with the food. While many Americans do not have the room for a traditional garden, most everyone can have a container garden. Here are some tips to help your container garden be more fruitful.

Containers that are used for vegetable or other gardening are more susceptible to drying out. Containers almost always need some amount of water each day, unless it rains. Many items exist to help with this process (such as timer run drip systems), but the standard watering pail will do the job just as well.

Another way to deal with the rapid dissipation in containers is to mulch the tops of the containers. While mulching an entire traditional garden can be quite a chore, proper mulching of containers for gardening is easy and requires little mulch. A layer of mulch on a container will help to keep moisture in the soil in the pot.

Ironically, containers are also more likely to be over watered than traditional gardens. Drain holes need to be present in the bottom of each container. Before planting, gardeners need to cover the holes with screen, loosely woven cloth or similar items to keep roots and other items from plugging the drain holes.

While sunlight is certainly needed, those scorching hot days of summer can be rough on plants. This is yet another advantage of container gardening, as the containers can be moved out of the sunlight for a few hours. A shade screen is another option and can be put up to limit the direct sun certain times of the day without having to fool with it each day.

Container gardens can result in earlier and later fresh vegetables at your home. While late spring and early fall often have warm daytime temperatures, one cold night can kill the plants in a traditional garden. Containers allow a gardener to move vegetables into a garage or inside the house and protect them from the elements. Container gardening allows an extra month or maybe two of fresh vegetables without dealing with indoor grow lights.

Pipes full of strawberries

I enjoy strawberries and have grown them in the usual manner in the past. (I still have evidence from that growing as weeds in the yard.) I was always dismayed at the amount of space they took up and sought another way. I had heard of strawberry jars and thought about that and then I saw hydroponically grown strawberries and thought that if it they’ll grow in a jar with soil and a pipe with liquid, maybe they grow in a pipe with soil. This is my third year experimenting with this method and it seems to be working much better now.

I use about a four foot section of 6″ PVC pipe, capped both ends and drilled ten 1 1/2″ holes along one side. There is also a small 1/4″ hole drilled into one of the caps for drainage. The pipes are filled vertically. The growing medium is sifted compost and peat moss. I used bare root strawberry plants. I filled the tube up to the first hole, added a plant, then more soil to the next hole add a plant until all holes were filled. Then the pipe is topped off and capped. The caps are snug, not permanently glued.

I used concrete blocks to provide a stable support for them when laying horizonally, but plan to use another structure to create a larger wall of strawberries. I water when the soil is dry to the touch and let nature take its course. The plants have set out runners that I may try to root and use them to fill next years tubes.

The best thing is there have been zero slugs and no dirty berries!

Vegetable Gardening in Containers

 

If your vegetable gardening is limited by insufficient space or an unsuitable area, consider raising fresh, nutritious, homegrown vegetables in containers. A window sill, a patio, a balcony or a doorstep will provide sufficient space for a productive mini-garden. Problems with soilborne diseases, nematodes or poor soil conditions can be easily overcome by switching to a container garden. Ready access to containers means that pest management is easier. Container vegetable gardening is a sure way to introduce children to the joys and rewards of vegetable gardening. 

 

 

 

Growing Media

Any growing media must provide water, nutrients, and a physical support in order to grow healthy plants. A good growing media must also drain well. Synthetic or soilless mixes are well suited for vegetable container gardening and may be composed of sawdust, wood chips, peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. These are free of disease and weed seeds, hold moisture and nutrients but drain well and are lightweight. Many synthetic soil mixes such as Jiffy Mix

 

are available at garden centers. Soilless mixes can also be prepared by mixing horticultural grade vermiculite, peat moss, limestone, superphosphate and garden fertilizer. To 1 bushel each of vermiculite and peat moss, add 10 tablespoons of limestone, 5 tablespoons of 0-20-0 (superphosphate) and 1 cup of garden fertilizer such as 6-12-12 or 5-10-10. Mix the material thoroughly while adding a little water to reduce dust. Wet the mix thoroughly before seeding or transplanting. Soil mixes are made up of equal parts of sphagnum peat moss or compost, pasteurized soil, and vermiculite or perlite. Composted cow manure is then added to improve the soil’s physical properties and as a nutrient source. Soil mixes tend to hold water better than soilless mixes.

Containers

Almost any type of container can be used for growing vegetable plants. For example, try using bushel baskets, drums, gallon cans, tubs or wooden boxes. The size of the container will vary according to the crop selection and space available. Pots from 6 to 10 inches in size are satisfactory for green onion, parsley and herbs. For most vegetable crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, you will find that 5 gallon containers are the most suitable size, while 1 to 2 gallon containers are best for chard and dwarf tomatoes. Smaller container sizes are appropriate for herbs, lettuce, and radish crops. They are fairly easy to handle and provide adequate space for root growth.

Container materials are either porous or nonporous. Glazed, plastic, metal, and glass containers are nonporous. Regardless of the type or size of container used it must drain adequately for successful yields. Adding about 1 inch of coarse gravel in the bottom of the container will improve drainage. The drain holes work best when they are located along the side of the container, about ¼ to ½ inch from the bottom.

Seeding and Transplanting

Vegetables that can be easily transplanted are best suited for container culture. Transplants may be purchased from local nurseries or can be grown at home. Seeds can also be germinated in a baking pan, plastic tray, pot, or even a cardboard milk carton. Fill the container with the media described above and cover most vegetable seed with ¼ inch to ½ inch of media to insure good germination. Another method is to use peat pellets or peat pots which are available from nursery supply centers. Landscape cloth or screen in the bottom of the pot will improve drainage and invigorate plant growth.

Any well-drained container can become a productive mini-garden.

Green onions, radishes or beets can be grown in a cake pan.

 

 

The seed should be started in a warm area that receives sufficient sunlight about 4 to 8 weeks before you plan to transplant them into the final container. Most vegetables should be transplanted into containers when they develop their first two to three true leaves. Transplant the seedlings carefully to avoid injuring the young root system. (See Table 2 for information about different kinds of vegetables.)

Fertilization

Available fertilizers will be either time-release or water soluble. Time-release fertilizer is mixed with the potting media at planting time. Osmocote® is a pelleted time-release fertilizer with 14-14-14 formulation. Water soluble fertilizers, on the other hand, are added to water and used when plants begin to grow actively. Peters® 20-20-20 or Miracle Gro® 15-30-15 are two examples sold in most garden centers.

The easiest way to add fertilizer to plants growing in containers is to prepare a nutrient solution and then pour it over the soil mix. There are many good commercial fertilizer mixes available to make nutrient solutions. Always follow the application directions on the label. You can make a nutrient solution by dissolving 2 cups of a complete fertilizer such as 10-20-10, 12-24-12, or 8-16-8 in 1 gallon of warm tap water. This mixture is highly concentrated and must be di

Covering the seed flat with a clear plastic bag will hasten germination.

A “tube” or bag garden is an easy method to grow vegetables.

Table 2. Planting Information for Growing Vegetables in Containers

 

 

 

Crop

 

 

Number of days for germination

 

 

Number of weeks to optimum age for transplanting

 

 

General size of container

 

 

Amount of light* required

 

 

Number of days from seeding to harvest

 

 

Beans

 

 

5-8

 

 

 

 

Medium

 

 

Sun

 

 

45-65

 

 

Cucumbers

 

 

6-8

 

 

3-4

 

 

Large

 

 

Sun

 

 

50-70

 

 

Eggplant

 

 

8-12

 

 

6-8

 

 

Large

 

 

Sun

 

 

90-120

 

 

Lettuce, leaf

 

 

6-8

 

 

3-4

 

 

Medium

 

 

Partial Shade

 

 

45-60

 

 

Onions

 

 

6-8

 

 

6-8

 

 

Small

 

 

Partial Shade

 

 

80-100

 

 

Parsley

 

 

10-12

 

 

 

 

Small

 

 

Partial Shade

 

 

70-90

 

 

Pepper

 

 

10-14

 

 

6-8

 

 

Large

 

 

Sun

 

 

90-120

 

 

Radish

 

 

4-6

 

 

 

 

Small

 

 

Partial Shade

 

 

20-60

 

 

Squash

 

 

5-7

 

 

3-4

 

 

Large

 

 

Sun

 

 

50-70

 

 

Tomato

 

 

7-10

 

 

5-6

 

 

Large

 

 

Sun

 

 

90-130

 

 

Be sure to keep plants watered and watch for insects that can harm them. Enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Crop Selection

Almost any vegetable that will grow in a typical backyard garden will also do well as a container-grown plant. Vegetables that are ideally suited for growing in containers include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes and parsley. Pole beans and cucumbers also do well in this type of garden, but they do require considerably more space because of their vining growth habit.

Variety selection is extremely important. Most varieties that will do well when planted in a yard garden will also do well in containers. Some varieties of selected vegetables which are ideally suited for these mini-gardens are indicated in Table 1.

Table 1. Varieties for Container Grown Vegetables

Broccoli (2 gallons, 1 plant)

Packman, Bonanza, others

Carrot (1 gallon, 2-3 plants. Use pots 2 inch deeper than the carrot length)

Scarlet Nantes, Gold Nugget, Little Finger, Baby Spike, Thumbelina

Cucumber (1 gallon, 1 plant)

Burpless, Liberty, Early Pik, Crispy, Salty

Eggplant (5 gallons, 1 plant)

Florida Market, Black Beauty, Long Tom

Green Bean (2 gallons minimum, space plants 3 inches apart)

Topcrop, Greencrop, Contender, (Pole) Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder

Green Onion (1gallon, 3-5 plants)

Beltsville Bunching, Crysal Wax, Evergreen Bunching

Leaf Lettuce (1 gallon, 2 plants)

Buttercrunch, Salad Bowl, Romaine, Dark Green Boston, Ruby, Bibb

Parsley (1gallon, 3 plants)

Evergreen, Moss Curled

Pepper (5 gallons, 1-2 plants)

Yolo Wonder, Keystone Resistant Giant, Canape, Red Cherry (Hot), Jalapeno

Radish (1gallon, 3 plants)

Cherry Belle, Scarlet Globe, (White) Icicle

Spinach (1 gallon, 2 plants)

Any cultivar

Squash (5 gallons, 1 plant)

Dixie, Gold Neck, Early Prolific Straightneck, Zucco (Green), Diplomat, Senator

Tomato (5 gallons, 1 plant)

Patio, Pixie, Tiny Tim, Saladette, Toy Boy, Spring Giant, Tumbling Tom, Small Fry

Turnip (2 gallons, 2 plants)

Any cultivar

Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash And Tomatoes In Containers

When garden space is limited, certain cultivars of cucumbers, peppers, squash and tomatoes can be easily grown in large containers with plants still producing the same amount as garden planted varieties.

In order to be successful you must first choose those varieties suitable for growing in containers. These varieties generally have a reduced growth habit and will not grow too large for a container. The seed packet information should include whether or not the cucumbers and squash varieties are suitable for container gardening. Most varieties of peppers and tomatoes are suitable for containers.

The biggest advantage to container growing is that you can grow them just about anywhere in the yard providing they get at least 8 hours of sunlight. They can be easily moved as needed and fruit can be harvested with ease. The disadvantage to container growing is that you have to watch the watering more closely as they are above ground and dry out quickly.

Type of Container

A standard type pot, the same height as diameter, with a diameter of at least 12 inches is recommended. A plastic pot will not dry out as rapidly as a clay pot and will require less watering. It is essential to have drainage holes in the bottom or root rotting will occur. Place a round fiberglass screen of the same shape and size as the pot in the bottom to prevent soil from washing out of the holes and to bar the entry of pests into the pot. Half whiskey barrels, black plastic pots and bushel baskets can also be used.

Starting the Plants

Pepper and tomato seeds can be started indoors in individual pots or in peat pellets as early as mid-March to April. You can also purchase already started plants in May. Cucumber and zucchini can be planted directly into the container as they are more difficult to transplant. These seeds can be sown early to mid-May.

For a fall crop, plant cucumber and squash seeds in early July. This produces a September harvest when the earlier plantings are beginning to decline. The potted plants can be moved into the garage during frosty fall nights extending the harvest into November.

Soil Mix

Because these plants are being grown in containers, you can mix the soil to the exact requirements, giving you better growth and production. They require a loose, well-drained soil generous in organic matter. A good mix consists of one part each of potting soil, perlite, sphagnum peat moss and compost. Garden soil should be avoided as it is likely to be infested with soil pests. When using compost, make sure temperatures during the composting process were high enough to kill pest organisms. Add a slow release fertilizer by following label recommendations to each pot. This provides additional nutrients slowly over a longer period when there is active growth and fruit production.

Water holding gels or hydrogels have been introduced recently to help reduce the watering requirements of container plants. These gels are either separate and can be added to the soil mix or can already be included in the mix. The gels help to retain moisture in the soil until it is needed by the plant.

Staking the Plant

Depending on the growth habit of the plant, it may be beneficial to stake it. Be sure to place the stakes in the pot before filling the soil and before you plant. There are several types of staking systems to use depending on the plant.

A good type of staking system to use with cucumbers is a teepee form that allows the plants to grow up the stakes. Tomato cages or stakes can be used to support tomatoes and peppers. Squash may or may not require staking, depending on plant growth habits.

Planting

Fill the container three-fourths full with the soil mix. Select stocky, vigorous plants and position the plant close to the stake and fill in the soil mix around the plant. Water thoroughly; if the soil settles, add more soil until it comes to within 3/4 inch of the top of the container.

For direct-seeding squash and cucumbers, fill the container close to the top and plant five to six seeds in the center of the pot, covering with 1/2 inch of soil mix. Water and keep the soil warm. After germination, cut off the seedlings except for the two largest to avoid overcrowding. After they reach a height of 8 to 10 inches, cut off one, leaving only one plant per container. Avoid pulling out the seedlings as this disturbs the roots of the remaining seedlings.

Growth

Place the container in a site with full sun and protection from the wind. Check the plants daily for watering needs. By mid-July, begin to use a fertilizer solution for supplemental feeding. Once a week give each plant a good watering with a water soluble fertilizer such as Peters 20-20-20 or Miracle Grow 15-30-15 at the recommended rate. Do not fertilize when the plants are dry-water them thoroughly first. Check plants daily for signs of insect and disease infestation. Keep mature fruits harvested to induce continued fruit formation. Refer to HYG-FactSheets 1608, 1618, 1620 and 1624 for individual, specific, cultural requirements.

Suggested Varieties

Cucumbers

  • Salad Bush Hybrid
  • Bush Champion
  • Picklebush
  • Spacemaster
  • Hybrid Bush Crop
  • Midget Bush Pickler

Tomatoes – Most varieties will grow in containers.

Peppers – Most varieties will grow in containers.

Squash

  • Burpee’s Butter Bush
  • Burpee’s Bush Table Queen
  • Bushkin Pumpkin
  • Bush Crookneck
  • Bush Acorn
  • Hybrid Jackpot Zucchini
  • Black Magic Zucchini

Growing Cucumbers In Containers

When you are ready to plant, be sure the weather consistently reaches 70 degrees. Then sow your cucumber seeds directly into the pots. Plant 6 or 8 seeds in a cluster about a half inch deep. When you see two sets of leaves on the seedlings, choose two or three of the seedlings that look strongest, and thin the rest. Do not pull the seedlings out of the soil, as you may damage the roots of the ones you wish to keep. Just cut or pinch the others off at the soil line.

The best things you can do to ensure successful cucumbers is to water very consistently, and to use a lot of fertilizer. Cucumbers grow very quickly and very well if tended properly. Cucumbers should be given a good, balanced fertilizer about once per week, and make sure their soil never, ever dries out completely. Dry soil will stunt their growth and make them bitter and hollow, so it is extremely important to keep them well-watered.

If you need help keeping the soil moist, you can spread a layer of peat moss or a light mulch mixture over the top of the soil in the container. This will help keep moisture in the soil longer, and will also help protect delicate surface roots.

You can raise four to six cucumber plants in a single 20-inch container if you have a four foot trellis set up behind the container. Cucumber plants do remarkably well when trained up a trellis, and doing so will help keep them off the ground and help maximize your space. Allowing the vines to grow on the ground not only takes up a lot of space, but puts the fruit at ground level, making them much easier for animals to steal.

It is important to harvest your cucumbers on a regular basis. You should pick them when they are fairly small. If you wait too long, they will become bitter. Not only that, but cucumber vines that have too many cucumbers reach full maturity will shut down production and will not produce any more cucumbers for the season! So you can see it is important to keep on top of your cucumber harvesting. The more often you harvest, the harder the plant will work to produce fruit, thus getting you maximum harvest from your plants.

Here are a few recommended varieties for growing cucumbers in pots:

Salad Bush – These cucumbers is small, only growing to about 8 inches in length. The vines are relatively short, making them ideal for growing in containers.

Suyo – This is a lovely Japanese variety that has very few seeds, and grows very long and crisp. The flavor is extraordinary, and they are very easy to grow. The do need a very strong trellis for support, because they grow quite long and large, sometimes over a foot in length!

Sweet Success – This variety is very popular because they are self-pollinating. The fruits are virtually seedless, but a few small seeds will form inside most of the fruits. If you harvest them early, there will probably be no seeds at all. The fruits typically reach about 10 inches in length, and they do require a good trellis because of their size and weight.

Growing Lettuce

Growing Lettuce In Containers Lettuce is amonst the easiest crops to grow in your vegetable garden but requires considerable amount 0f care. Different varieties have different weather preferences. For growing lettuce in containers, the date of your sowing is highly essential for crop growth. As a cool-weather plant, it must be planted 2 weeks before the last frost date, or roughly around autumn for some varieties. Other types of lettuce can tolerate the heat of the summer sun without bolting. Starting your cultivation Lettuce seeds can be bought in any gardening store. You can select a specific variety of seeds, or you can choose a mix that has several lettuce varieties in one packet. Whatever variety you choose, always make sure that your choice matches your planned sowing dates. When growing lettuce in pots, you have to select a place where the plant will get at least 5 hours of sun in a day. Ideally the best place will be at the east side of your garden. This way, your lettuce will only receive the cool morning sun and not be dried out the rest of the day. The specifications of your pot or container An ideal container for your lettuce will be one that is 6-8 inches deep. How big your container will be depends on how many lettuces you intend to grow. A 12-inch diameter pot or container can hold 2 lettuces. Some would prefer using a window box as the container is not that deep and can hold lettuce crops neatly in rows. The container must have plenty of holes underneath to help drain excess water. Once you have selected a container, you must stick to it. Even though you are growing lettuce in containers, it is often a mistake to transplant it later. Preparing your soil or potting mix There are pre-prepared sterile potting mixes available in your garden store. The potting mix is a mixture of peat, perlite, and vermiculite. When you are growing lettuce in pots, ideally, the pH should be 6.0-7.0. However, your lettuce will grow perfectly in a light, loamy soil. Temperature should be 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit for your seeds will not germinate if the temperature reaches 80 degrees and above. You can prepare the soil with a fertilizer of 15-15-15 or 20-20-20. If you plan to go organic, compost is most ideal. Treat your soil with matured compost or compost manure 2 weeks before planting. Mix the compost thoroughly in the soil for an even distribution. A richly fertilized soil can cause the plant to bolt. Seeds Once you have chosen your seeds, sow them thinly and directly on your prepared soil. Cover them with prepared soil about ½ inch thick and lightly pat them down. A thinly sowed soil is preferred when growing lettuce in containers for your crops will have a shallow rooting system. Moisten the soil with a fine mist being careful not to wash away the seeds. You can start to thin the seedlings once 2 true leaves have formed. Distance between seedlings should be 6 inches. Do not plant new seeds near established crops for they will not grow. If you wish to have a continuous harvesting season all year, plant new seeds instead in a different container to avoid disturbing the established crops as well as not to waste the seeds. Care and Harvesting It is important that you keep the soil moist but not wet. An inch of water a week is ideal. Make sure that water them regularly in the same amount daily. Over-watering can make your crops susceptible to fungal disease that can lessen the amount of yield per season. Depending on the variety, expect to harvest your lettuce greens 20-25 days after planting. In some cases, harvesting can take up to 60 days. If you find it difficult to count the days while growing lettuce in pots, you can harvest once the leaves have grown the desired size, usually 4-6 inches. Cut the leaves directly an inch or two above the base or pull out the entire crop. Once you have harvested your crops, wash them thoroughly to remove dirt. Prevent the crops frmm bolting by providing shade throughout the summer. A bolted plant means that the crops has formed flowers and have become woody or leathery. The taste will be compromised, meaning your lettuce would taste bitter and be totally inedible. Mulch your crops during the summer with compost or moss to prevent water loss to address this problem. Common pest problems would be bugs, slugs, and snails. You can spray them with pesticides bought in your local gardening store to control them. Mildew and other fungus are also problems encountered in caring for lettuce. Fungicides can take care of this problem as well. Spray your lettuce with a recommended fungicide every 7-10 days to prevent fungus from killing your crops. Weeds are also a problem when growing lettuce. Prevent this by pre-treating your soil before planting. If you see weeds growing, it is important that you remove them immediately. Weeds compete for soil nourishment and can weaken your crop. The earlier you remove the weeds, the better. You can avoid this problem by regularly tilling the soil once your crops have formed an established root system. Be careful when tilling the soil for you may damage the leaves and the roots in the process. However, lettuce is directly eaten raw, so it is better to go organic. Inspect your crops daily and regularly and Hand-pick your snails and slugs. Some recommend wiping the base of with petroleum jelly when growing lettuce in containers. To prevent fungus from growing, make sure that your crop still has adequate ventilation even though it is provided with shade. Remove infected leaves immediately, and if necessary, thin down your crops. Give extra protection by spraying your crops every two weeks with compost tea. Side-dress your crops by placing mature compost at the edge, or by feeding it with compost tea. Another way to prevent insects from coming near your lettuce is to line them up with onions and chives. They are perfect insect and caterpillar repellants so you do not have to worry too much on keeping your crops safe.

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