Friday, May 27, 2016

Early Lessons in Container Gardening



This post has been in the work for weeks.  Due to the nature of our land, traditional gardening is not really in the cards for us.  I had my heart set on being able to make and can tomato sauce to last us through the year this year as last year's haul from the farmer's market and my parent's garden only last us through the middle of April.  So, I decided to take on the project of container gardening despite my poor results the one time I tried to raise a tomato in a pot when I lived in an apartment.  To be fair, I didn't kill the tomato despite almost always being in the shade and my not doing the best job of remembering to care for it.  It did eventually produce three whole tomatoes.  They were still better than just about any I could get in a grocery store.

With everything going on with our family including having two members in the hospital at one point with one being an hour and a half from home, time has not been on my side.  Then, we got hit by almost a month straight of rain with at most 2 days a week without rain.  So, work on my container garden has taken place in fits and spurts.  Often with just a couple plants getting planted a week.  While I have made some mistakes along the way like leaving some young seedlings outside in hopes of getting them some sun not realizing we were going to be hit with a large downpour, I wanted to post here about my journey to encourage others to consider container gardening as well.  So, this will be my first post with hopefully many updates throughout the summer and eventually autumn as I am hoping to plant some fall crops as well.  I know if I can be successful despite everything working against us, there is hope for anyone.


These were the first bloom of a blue potato.  I adore the purple hue the leaves have when they are this tiny and just erupting from the soil.   The blues were grown from seed potatoes, but all the rest of my potatoes are from scraps.  As of this week, all 9 of my potatoes have erupted through the soil.  Hopefully, since they were all planted at different times due to my time constraints, they will all be ready to harvest at slightly different times allowing me to continue to work just a bit at a time on them.


A week later, here is the same potato plant.  As you can see, sadly they do not retain that gorgeous color to the leaves.  I can't wait to see them flower.  


Here is the one tomato seedling that I thought had survived my unintentional drowning of the tomato seedlings.  This is a green zebra from the foodie lovers pack I received from Uncommon Goods.  I highly recommend their site for purchasing gifts especially and will be posting about them soon.  Please check them out.  
Luckily, once I was able to dry them out, about half of the other seedlings eventually perked back up.  The remaining tomato seedlings are all Black Krim.  Sadly, none of my Roma tomatoes made it.  I was so looking forward to using them for tomato sauce.  

This picture was taken 2 weeks ago.  The picture at the top of the post is an update taken today.  

To cut down on time, I used a mixture of plants grown from seeds myself, plants I purchased, and plants I grew from scraps.  We were limited on space, so the majority of our plants are growing on a makeshift plywood table.  In fact, I only have two large pots on the ground; one tomato on the deck and one potato by the office door.  Most of these are in small plastic pots,but I am planning on transplanting the potatoes seen here to 5 gallon buckets as I can acquire them.

So far, I have 3 different types of potato, 2 different types of eggplant, 6 different types of tomatoes, 2 types of pepper, 1 zucchin, thai basil, sweet basil, dill, garden sage, rosemary, and lavender.  I still have several veggies and herbs I plan on adding.

So, I have a few lessons thus far.

1. Even just being able to carve out 20 minutes of time, you can get your garden started though it will be slow.

2. Spacing out planting will allow you to space out harvesting.

3. Using a variety of planting methods whether it be seeds, scraps, or seedlings can save time as well as give you early feelings of success which will provide you incentive to keep going.  

4. Plants can survive our mistakes. 
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