Heirloom cucumbers now ready!

on Sat, 05/07/2016

Now that it's finally warmed up at night, my heirloom cucumbers are ready to go in your garden. They've been hardened off and have gigantic root systems (some already hanging out of the bottom of the 4" pots). Many already have blossoms.

All plants are grown organically by me and not treated with anything except Alaska Fish Fertilizer (organic, OMRI listed). Plants are in pots that are approximately 3.5"x3.5"x4" (often times called 4" starts). All have been hardened off and are ready for planting in the ground or in large pots.

Here's what I will have available starting this weekend:

Muncher Burpless - short and thick, can be pickled
Marketmore 76 - heavy, early, and long, can be pickled
Sumter - perfect for pickling
Spacemaster - compact, high yields; great for containers
Straight Eight - classic straight 8" cukes

Lemon cucumbers will be coming, they are just a little behind the others. If you want some of these and are certain you will pick them up, I will put a hold on them for you.

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Tomato Growth

on Fri, 05/06/2016

For those who are new to growing tomatoes from seed, it can be hard to know if your plants are growing on schedule as they should or whether they are behind. I've gone through my photos taken this year to give you an idea of over the course of a little over a month and a half about how your tomatoes should look. This covers from when I planted the seeds to when I moved them outside to harden off to when they were ready for sale/planting.

I keep my tomatoes inside in the warmth of the house until they are ready to be planted outside. At that point they go outside to be hardened off. Previously that meant outside in the sun for several hours and then back indoors at night. Now that I have a portable greenhouse, they go into there and I can close that up at night. Until they're ready for that, they stay indoors under the lights. Otherwise you can severely stunt their growth. They should not be moved back and forth from indoors to outdoors while they are small.

This should give you a better idea of how things should grow over that time. Next year I'll work on trying to take specific pictures of each seedling type daily so that we get a better idea of progression.

You can view the photos here in the gallery.

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Too much water

on Sun, 04/24/2016

Yesterday I was out working with my plants and noticed that the kale had an usually high number of dead leaves. That was odd since it had been doing so well.

A little while later I went to add a little volunteer kale start that had popped up in another planter. Went to dig a hole for it and found that under the mulch the soil was completely saturated with water. I guess somehow I missed that this planter didn't have any drain holes in it. Seems like this is becoming an issue more and more. It used to be that pots all came with drain holes. Then they came with weak spots where you were supposed to use a hammer or other tool to pop those circles out. Now it seems like most have no way for the water to drain out.

So how do you solve this issue, especially when the planter already has soil and plants in it? A drill. Just put a drill bit into your drill and put as many holes into the pot as you'd like.

For now the pot has three holes on the one end. Later I'll add more.

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Organizing Seeds

on Tue, 04/19/2016

Organizing your seeds can be a hard thing for some people. It's fine when you have a few packets, but what do you do when you have dozens? I wasn't sure, so I ended up diving them by type (tomato, squash, herbs, flowers, etc) and putting them in big envelopes. Inside each one is a ziplock for the open packets. I have the type written on the front of each envelope and I keep them in a container I bought at the dollar store. This makes it easy for me to flip through and find what I am looking for.

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I also found this interesting way of doing it on the Frugal Mama & The Sprout blog. It uses a binder and photo pages to organize everything. This allows you to also add layouts of where everything is planted and then have the photo pages after it to hold each of the packets of seeds. I'm thinking of trying this next year.

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Image courtesy of Frugal Mama & The Sprout

On the Montana Homesteader, they use an old photo album to hold everything together, including plans.

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Reformation Acres has a whole bunch of ideas, including tic tac boxes and filing envelopes.

Thrifty Fun has even more ideas, including photo pocket pages and coupon organizers. 

Hot weather

on Mon, 04/18/2016

Many parts of the country are having abnormally high temperatures. That is definitely the case here where I live in Oregon. We're seeing temps in the mid to upper 80s and there's been some talk of us hitting 90 this month. For this part of Oregon, that is just crazy. We should be in the 60s and 70s right now.

For those of us who container garden, that means lots of watering. The plants haven't grown strong enough roots yet to be able to seek out all the water in the pot and the plants aren't strong enough yet to deal with this weather. That means a lot of wilting, shock, and possibly death. So how do you deal with this?

Go out first thing in the morning and give everyone a really good watering. Make sure not to miss anyone. Doing it early in the day before it gets too hot out decreases the amount of water lost due to evaporation and allows it to seep into the dirt.

Put mulch around your plants. Several of my pots have mulch all around the plants. Home Depot has been running a special lately on the weekends where big bags are only $2/each. I bought three, which appears to be way too much for my garden. Having never worked with mulch, I didn't realize that a little goes a long way. And be sure to have gloves as well, otherwise you will end up like me and be covered in slivers. I like working in the garden with my bare hands, but not with mulch! Adding mulch helps to keep moisture in your pots longer, which means they can better make it through these hot days.

Check on your plants during the day. If it's extremely hot outside, you may find some plants need a second watering. Just be careful, as you don't want to overwater and wash all your nutrients away. You can look at the soil and see how dry it looks, is it pulling away from the sides of the pot, etc.

Hopefully all of this will help you to protect your plants during these heat waves.

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Your friend the ladybug

on Tue, 04/12/2016

If you want to grow a garden that is free of chemicals, beneficial bugs are going to be a lifesaver for you. Without them, you'll end up with bugs all over your garden, killing plants, eating leaves, etc.

One of my favorites to use is the ladybug. They love aphids and can eat up a bunch of them. They'll also eat pollen as well, which means they may pollinate your plants. There's a good source of information about them here.

Ladybugs can be purchased at many feed stores, farm stores, etc. Here I've bought them at Coastal Farm & Ranch as well as Fred Meyer. They tend to come in a mesh bag or plastic cup. They tend to be in hibernation, but will wake up once they warm up. Don't be surprised if some are dead - that's normal. If a lot of them are dead, that's not, but don't be surprised if 10% or so are dead. That's why you get so many in the container.

Wait until it is almost dark and give your garden a good watering. The ladybugs are going to need a lot to drink once they get active. Then, just as it is getting dark, release your ladybugs. I tend to sprinkle them all over my garden so that I have good coverage. Ladybugs do not like to fly in the dark, which means they will stay in your garden. The longer you can get them to stay at the beginning, the more likely you are to keep some of them around.

When I came out the next morning, there were ladybugs everywhere. They were chasing bugs, eating pollen, and mating. I can only hope this means I'll find ladybug eggs later.

I also bought a little plastic house they had for ladybugs at the store. I am interested to see if this helps keep them around as well.

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Topic

Working in the garden

I've spent a lot of time over the last few days working in the garden. It's been slow going since I'm limited in what I can do, but between me and my family we've gotten a lot done. Mulch has been put around many of the plants to help keep weeds at bay and to keep the moisture in the pots. I also had to yank up my chives, as they were getting killed by aphids. To help combat that problem, we bought some ladybugs, who had a feast. Also did some organizing in the greenhouse.

Spending time outside

on Thu, 04/07/2016

We're having unusually nice and warm weather here in my part of Oregon (80s in early April!), which means I'm busy outside in the garden. I have to take it slow and only do things in short bursts (and wait for others to do the heavy stuff), but I am getting as much done as I can. Trying to clear out all the peas, beans, and greens so that tomatoes can begin moving out to the greenhouse. Some have grown significantly faster than others and are blocking the light. As such, I'd like to get the big ones moved outdoors and give more room for the little ones. Plus it's about time to transplant all the peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers into bigger pots. That means I need the space.

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Welcome! About this site...

Zucchini seedlingsWelcome to my blog on container gardening. I live in an apartment and as such don't have the option to plant anything in the ground. As such, I gave dozens and dozens of containers surrounding my patio filled with herbs, vegetables, fruits, and flowers.

I started out with just a few planters of strawberries around my garden. Then I added a few hanging baskets of flowers for our daughter. Each year I've expanded and expanded my garden. I've been buying bigger and bigger containers and adding new plants. I've found some things that have worked well for me - like the Asian finger eggplant that produced probably 100 eggplants - and things that haven't - my rapini never grew and it's just too cold for melons to do well.

I hope to share what I've learned thus far, tips, and more through this blog. I also hope to hear from you about what has worked for you.

Be sure to check out the photo galleries! Lots of photos there showing what I'm growing, how the plants are doing and more!