Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Uncomplicated Container Gardening Prep

I love cooking with fresh herbs, but they can be so expensive to buy!  So, I decided to start my own year-round herb garden this spring.  I started my basil seedlings inside in February, because I wanted to get a head start.  I want to be able to move my herb garden to warmer locations in winter, so I’m using light, large resin containers that I’ll be putting on casters for easy transportation.  Here’s a pic:

Container for Container Gardening

You need to make sure you allow for drainage when container gardening, so make sure you put at least one hole in the bottom of your outdoor planters.  I used this tool I found in the boyfriend’s toolbox (not sure what it is – leave a note in the comments if you know what it’s for!). 

Tool

I made  nice size hole, and then filled in the bottom of the containter with rocks from my garden for additional drainage help.  (With a container this size, I probably should have put in 3 holes, but I was feeling lazy that day, so hopefully the rocks will compensate.  I’ll let you know how it goes!)

Finished drain

Finished drainage hole

Rocks for drainage

Rock layer for additional drainage

Once you have all that out of the way, get your strong significant other to put the heavy potting soil into the container (I used 2 cubic feet of soil in these planters).  Be sure you’ve purchased the right soil for containers – I bought the wrong stuff the first time!

Add Soil

Once the soil is mostly in, position your seedlings where you’d like them,

Place your seedlings

dig little holes to put them in,

Dig holes for planting

and plant them!

Planted

Notice how my seedlings seem a little lanky (tall, floppy, and skinny)?  That’s not how you want them to be.  I made the mistake of keeping my seedlings too far from their light source indoors.  I was lucky they survived!  Once you’ve planted these babies, gently water them thoroughly.  You really want to keep an eye on watering when using containers, as they dry out faster than tradiational gardens. 

Gentle Watering

My little basil seedlings took off, and were thriving.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a picture of them for you.  Why?  My cats discovered the basil, and over the course of two days, ate it all.  This is what I found when I went to take the photo:

What the Cats Left

So, it’s back to square one!

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Soil Amendment Fun!

We moved to a new house in October, and the backyard soil leaves a lot to be desired.  Here’s a picture of what I’m working with:

Rocky Ground

Look at all those rocks! Argh!

Notice the soil is wet in the picture above?   It’s rocky, hard like cement when dry, and slightly less solid, like clay, when wet. I had to wet it down in order to turn it with a shovel, because I was getting nowhere with it dry.  I got a great work out, though!  I had my work cut out for me…how could I get all those rocks out of there, without killing my back or knees as I pick them out one by one?  Then, I remembered we had a heavy duty metal rake! (It’s the one on the left below.)   Rakes

I grabbed the rake, and low and behold, it mostly worked, better on the bigger rocks, of course.  I even managed to get enough rocks out of the garden to use as a drainage layer in my herb container garden pots (more on those later).  Here’s the before and after:

Before Raking

Before Raking

After Raking

After Raking

I still had to grab a few of the smaller rocks off the surface, but it was much more manageable!  Next, it was time for my current favorite soil amendment…composted steer manure!  I spread it all over my garden strip, as seen below:

Steer Manure

Once I had it on the ground, I spread it out evenly along the width of the strip, and then repeated the process with organic garden soil.  It ended up looking like this:

Soil Amendments, spread out

And now, the fun was about to begin!  The whole purpose of these soil amendments is not to leave them on top of the soil, but to combine it with your soil to improve the overall soil quality.  We want a happy, healthy, flexible soil for our seedlings’ root systems.  So, I got the shovel, and started turning dirt.

Soil Incorporation

The top of the photo shows the incorporated soil, the bottom is still waiting to be incorporated (it’s a lot of work!).  In the end though, it was worth it – the tomatoes have come along nicely!

Tomato Plants