Sunday, November 28, 2010

Survival Gardening in Containers

You don't need a plot of land to grow fresh vegetables. Many vegetables lend themselves well to container gardening. With some thought to selecting bush or dwarf varieties, almost any vegetable can be adapted to growing in a pot. Vegetables that take up little space, such as carrots, radishes and lettuce, or crops that bear fruits over a long period of time, such as tomatoes and peppers, are perfect for container vegetable gardens.

What you can grow in a container vegetable garden is limited only by the size of the container and your imagination. How about a Summer Salad container? Plant a tomato, a cucumber and some parsley or chives all in a large (24-30") container. They grow well together and have the same water and sun requirements. By late summer they might not be very pretty, but they'll keep producing into the fall. This makes a great housewarming present, too.


Containers and Pots for Vegetable Gardens
Selecting Containers: Containers for your vegetable gardens can be almost anything: flower pots, pails, buckets, wire baskets, bushel baskets, wooden boxes, nursery flats, window planters, washtubs, strawberry pots, plastic bags, large food cans, or any number of other things.
Drainage: No matter what kind of container you choose for your vegetable garden, it should have holes at the base or in the bottom to permit drainage of excess water.

Color Considerations: You should be careful when using dark colored containers because they absorb heat which could possibly damage the plant roots. If you do use dark colored pots, try painting them a lighter color or shading just the container.

Size: The size of the container is important. For larger vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants, you should use a five gallon container for each plant. You can grow these plants in two gallon containers, however you need to give the plants considerably more attention.


Soil and Fertilizer
You can use soil in your container vegetable garden, but the synthetic mixes are much better. Peat-based mixes, containing peat and vermiculite, are excellent. They are relatively sterile and pH adjusted. They also allow the plants to get enough air and water. Mixing in one part compost to two parts planting mix will improve fertility.
Using a slow release or complete organic fertilizer at planting will keep your vegetables fed for the whole growing season.


Watering
Pots and containers always require more frequent watering than plants in the ground. As the season progresses and your plants mature, their root system will expand and require even more water. Don't wait until you see the plants wilting. Check your containers daily to judge the need for water.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Growing Garlic

Early autumn is the best time to plant - usually summer finishes and autumn races towards winter and I often find me planting cloves on the colder end of this season. If you really want a successful harvest of these alliums then the cloves NEED to be in the ground at the start of autumn when the ground still has some warmth in it.



The soil needs to be deliciously friable - I know, I know. All we're ever recommended to grow in is friable soil and whoever has that? Well, in the case of growing garlic it's more a necessity than a luxury. Those with clay soils will struggle equally as much as those with sandy soils. The clay soil will restrict the growth of the bulbs in the same way as they encourage bifurcation of carrots. And sandy soils just won't be able to retain the moisture or nutrients that these precocious vegetables demand.


If you want to grow a good crop of garlic then your soil needs to be a welcoming mat. They love a soil that is slightly on the acidic side so pouring compost and manures into your bed before planting will please them beyond imagination.



Keep the soil moist - if your autumn and winters are fairly dry then keeping some irrigation on your young bulbs will prove invaluable. Otherwise, you might just want to mulch the beds. They don't need heaps of water but they don't appreciate drying out either.



Source quality bulbs for planting - most often you can buy bulbs of garlic to grow straight from the supermarket. However, increasingly it seems that many producers are spraying bulbs with growth inhibitors to protect their stock. Your best source for quality bulbs would be from someone who has already grown their own from a past season or from organic producers.



Plant the cloves the right way up! - Like any other bulb, if it's planted incorrectly they will never see the light of day - literally. The base of each clove should be pointing downwards while its peak should face the sun. Fairly obvious, one would assume, but the number of people who ask the question illustrates the need to make the point.



Once your cloves are in the ground you can easily engage the set-and-forget mindset. They will mostly take care of themselves and apart from a side dressing off liquid fertilizer once the foliage begins to show, they won't need much more attention.



Then in late spring, when the leaves begin to die down you can begin to harvest these wonderful veggies leaving them to dry out in the sun before storing. And the best way to store garlic is by braiding and hanging.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Saving Seeds

When acquiring seed to grow vegetables make sure you buy Heirloom seeds. Do not buy hybrid seeds because you cannot save these seeds. Once you grow them they will not reproduce. Heirlooms seed are the best because they are handed down from generation to generation with the same elements that helped our grandparents survive with a healthy diet and without all these problems we have today with our health. It’s time to get back to basics before it is too late. Gather seed even if you do not garden, In the near future you may need this seed to live on because it will keep for a few years.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010