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Container gardening
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harpospeaking



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 194
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:01 am    Post subject: Container gardening Reply with quote

Has anyone on the boards tried doing any major container gardening? Not just herbs, but major vegetables? Can you recommend any helpful books on container gardening that worked for you? Thanks!
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Containers can be great for fruit and veg. Just remember to keep the water up to them in hot dry weather. Also use good quality potting mix and add water retention granules to it before planting. You will need to remember to fertilise a lot more in a container, as the soil will become depleted of minerals very quickly. Do not use terracotta as it sucks the moisture away from plants and fruit and veg require a lot of moisture to grow well. Plastic is a lot better as it is not porous and is also lighter, so if you do need to move a pot you will not kill yourself trying to shift it.

I used to grow my tomatoes in huge pots as that way I could spin them to prune and pick the fruit. I always grew marigolds and chives underneath as they repel garden pests. Other veg pots had pansies and violas etc so I could use the flowers in salads. Pretty and practical.

Lemons and other citrus also adapt well to huge pots, as do vines and climbers such as peas, beans, pumpkin, zucchini, passionfruit etc.

Lettuce and other salad veg such as radishes, carrots, etc are so easy in a container. My strawberries were always container grown even when we had a garden. This prevented them from taking over and spreading through all the garden beds.

Surprisingly potatoes grow fabulously well in a tall container. You put a small amount of soil in teh bottom with your seed potatoes, and as teh plant sprouts, you gradually cover all but the very top of the sprout with more soil until you eventually reach the top of the container. Depending on the variety/climate etc it can take a few weeks to a month or two. Doing this encourages more potatoes to grow up the plant stem, rather than just a few in the bottom of the pot.

A good trick is to use old car tyres. As the plant grows you put another tyre on the stack and add more soil. When it comes time to harvest you just remove each tyre in turn and check for potatoes as you go down the stack.

I used pots and huge containers for years when we didn't have a "proper" garden. I used to grow most of our veg this way, as well as all our herbs.

Good luck!
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Debbie, that's brilliant. I especially like the tires/potatoes idea. I also didn't realize terracotta wasn't such a good idea for growing plants, I've always preferred it because I love terracotta---gonna go with plastic and wood this spring!
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harpospeaking



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 194
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Thanks for all the advice. Who would have thought tires as containers for growing potatoes? We've been having strangely wet wet wet weather in Los Angeles lately, so I'll have to wait until things dry up a bit before I get started.
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minkey



Joined: 30 Oct 2005
Posts: 80
Location: Tempe, Arizona; US

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harpospeaking, I was wondering how your zucchini blossoms are coming?
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grow citrus and olives in pots with great success. I also grew a grape vine in a pot once and it fruited.
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Susan in Italy



Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Posts: 37
Location: Milan, Italy

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 10:28 am    Post subject: COntainer Gardening Reply with quote

Debbie, I AM impressed! One thing, could you explain how the pumpkin grows in a pot? I'm imagining you attaching it to a trellace and using nylons to support for the fruit, but maybe there's another way.

One book I've found useful is called "Urban Eden: Grow Delicious Fruit, Vegetables and herbs in a Really Small Space" by Adam and James Caplin. It's from England but I bought my copy in the States.
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minkey



Joined: 30 Oct 2005
Posts: 80
Location: Tempe, Arizona; US

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susan, I have to try that book -- my space is truly very small!

Barbara, I am dying to know about growing an olive tree in a pot. Was it (and were the citrus) dwarf varieties?

And, this will sound very ignorant but, how do you prepare the olives? We had an olive tree in the yard when I was a kid, but I think we only used the fruit one year; it seemed to be an elaborate process to make it edible? Is that totally wrong, or does it depend on the type of olive tree?

A last (belated thing) -- Debbie, I am so glad to hear that potatoes can be grown that way. I have heard of it and always wondered if it worked. Do you dump the whole bin to harvest?
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the pumpkins, you let the vine trail down the sides. They are too heavy to grow up a trellis. A smaller "squash" type would be ok to train on a trellis, but not the traditional big pumpkins. I used huge pots and sat them up on bricks so they had height to trail down. If you put the pot in a corner location and let it trail around each wall you will find that they grow quite well. They really do need a bit of space. You use the smaller pots as a sort of barricade to keep the pumpkin vines confined.

The potatoes if grown in the tyres can be harvested slowly by just going down one tyre at a time, or you can harvest all at once by dismantling the whole thing. If you choose to harvest slowly, remember to put the dirt back in and try not to damage the plant too much in the process.

harpospeaking, the tyres would work well for you if it is very wet. They provide good drainage. You could also sit big plastic pots with the bases cut out on the ground and plant into them. They will drain very well but confine whatever you are growing... very good for things that like to take over the garden...

I have a fabulous crop of mint, basil and rosemary in my herb pot on the window sill. The other one has pelargoniums, sun daisies, jasmine and bulbs. My lily of the valley just finished. First time I have ever grown it. So pretty and a lovely perfume. Hope my husband remembers to water them while I am away.... Confused I would like to add eau de cologne mint to the boxes, but cannot find any. Might need to check in the UK when I am there and buy some seeds. Maybe someone in the UK can tell me if it is available there?
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Minkey
The olives are regular olive trees. I have the same planted in my garden which are so huge they need trimming now. I didn't get any fruit off the eight potted olives this year because they have been neglected. I will have the energy to feed and and tend them in the coming year and they will do better. If you go to my blog you will see my easy curing method for olives here.
http://winosandfoodies.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/04/how_to_cure_oli.html
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harpospeaking



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 194
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 6:19 am    Post subject: update on my container garden Reply with quote

It started out as a topic on a board, and now it's a container garden.

My zucchini seedlings were so successful, I've had to give away a couple of the plants. I've kept 2 growing in 5 gallon plastic pots. They're still small, but they're growing FAST. I also have ventured out to plant tomatoes, cilatnro (from seed), strawberries, radishes, basil (from seed), sage (from seed) and Japanese eggplant. It's been so wonderful having a tiny paradise on my backyard patio and it's such a refreshing experience to tend to my plants after a long day at the office. In about 2 months, I expect to start harvesting SOMETHING. I think the zucchini blossoms will be appearing in about another 6 weeks. I see tiny buds forming on the vines, but the vines have a bit of growing to do. I'm definitely going to do this again next year! Very Happy
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janka



Joined: 01 Mar 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 11:57 am    Post subject: container garden Reply with quote

I only have a balcony facing south-east, so I can only use containers...
I grow cherry tomatoes. Last year, we had 15 kg (30 pounds!) of those little goodies... My boyfriend planted chillies (Jalapeno, Habanero) and also had great success. Then, he read somewhere that they would get even more fruits the next year, so the whole winter (and it has been a long one here in Austria), we had those huge chilli plants in our living room... Now, they're outside and flowering again, and the few chillies they already had are turning red now. I also have different herbs, such as chives, parsley, oregano and basil - for our famous pesto Wink
We usually grow everything from seeds. You need to start early, I sowed the tomatoes end of February and watched them grow, longing for summer! The tomatoes are quite big, almost 2 meters high, and are VERY thirsty. In summer, we have to water them at least once a day. As for fertilizer, we use a 1/4 of the recommended dose every second time or so we water.
I would eventually like to try zucchini next year. How big will they become? How many fruits do you get from one plant?
I also have strawberries, but the amount I get ist just to tease my taste buds (I could have strawberries at least three times a day, all year long). The "balcony" strawberries I bought last year did not in the end survive the winter, they died with the beginning of spring. However, the "wood" strawberies we dag out in a friend's garden, survived the winter unprotected and have the first fruits. YUM!
Note: our balcony is protected by the balcony above us. We use plastic containers. The tomatoeas are suported by "tomato spirals" - aluminium twisted rods.
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oooops.....

Forgot to mention that with container grown tomatoes you will need to pinch out the extra growth in the crook of each branch and when they get to a height which is right for you start pinching out the top of the plant as well.

This will ensure that you do not waste precious energy on leaf growth and the fruit you get will be better quality.

You have it right janka. Fertilising regularly is important for container plants. You can actually buy granuals which you mix with the potting mix and water granules when you are planting up. They do a good job and you can buy them for potted vegetables as well - no guessing how much to use Wink

I had heaps of chillis on my plant last time. I also grew strawberries. Each time I would be ready to harvest the strawberries - the @#%$! possums would beat me to it. I would be so angry that I had missed out again (I love strawberries). After the strawberries finished I still had some small, very hot, bright red chillis on the plant. I came outside to water one morning and there where red chillis all over the paving.... each with just one small bite out of them.... who had the last laugh that day??? Twisted Evil The poor possums must have been desperate for a strawberry fix and kept trying the chillis and throwing them away in disgust at the burning taste in their mouths Shocked . I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life.... and the possums never came back to my garden again.... Laughing Laughing What a shame.. Wink
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If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
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minkey



Joined: 30 Oct 2005
Posts: 80
Location: Tempe, Arizona; US

PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Debbie, that's hilarious about the possums! Laughing

Thanks for the curing instructions, Barbara. Now I just need to find a space for a really big pot!

I have so far a cherry tomato plant and a japanese eggplant in pots. No eggplant yet and each tomato plant is producing a couple sweet little toms a day. Not much to work with. At least the herbs are doing well. A disappointing year Sad
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too still get a giggle out of that memory....

Try pinching the excess growth out of your cherry tomato plants and that should encourage more fruit. I found it always works for me when they are not fruiting abundantly. If they are still very small, pinch out the blossoms to encourage it to grow bigger and stronger before fruiting.

Also check your fertiliser is for vegetables and fruit, not for flowers. If you use houseplant or flower fertiliser you will just get bushy green plants that will not fruit well.

Good luck!
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If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
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