Let me count the ways.
It’s not the most beautiful sight: the containers are rather disorderly because we were preparing for a possible frost when the photo above was taken. Also notice the door/windbreak. Rather, please don’t notice it. Let’s talk about the plants instead.
Our homemade earthboxes seem to be working very well, both the buckets and the tub variety. Most of our plants are growing and thriving except for a few glaring failures which I try to explain below. We’ve only watered once or twice/week so far, and the soil seems to maintain a good level of moisture.
We’ll start at the lower left, but skip past my 2 empty “earthbuckets” which will probably hold some sort of large slicing variety of tomato. Bell peppers are labelled, 4 small new transplants. I bought the very last 9-pack at WalMart and gave 5 to my mom and sister. I still need some jalepenos for hubby, though I’m not quite sure where they will go yet. Probably more 5 gallon earth buckets.
After that, we have the container of failed cucumbers. I replanted these just after the photo was taken, so hopefully we’ll have something to show in a week or two.
In the corner, we have 2 containers of strawberry plants. I started out with 12 plants but 5 died right away. The rest are thriving. We have pinched off the blossoms diligently to let them devote their strength and energy to growing now, so we’ll have a bigger crop of berries later on. I haven’t decided yet if we’ll replace the 5 that died, since I probably shouldn’t have planted quite so many in the first place.
Next, we have tomatoes: 2 Romas, 2 Sweet One Hundreds. These have grown a lot since I put them out, and are trying to blossom too. We’re picking blossoms off almost daily, but might leave some to develop very soon.
To the right of the tomato buckets, you can see 2 containers of green beans (an heirloom bush variety – Contender, I think?) and 2 containers of peas. The beans are doing very nicely. I only hope I planted enough.
The peas – not so good. There are 2 varieties, one of them with edible pods. I foolishly neglected to note which was which, and one container has failed to germinate. This means that unless you can really tell by the amount of time to harvest (56 days vs. 70 days) we’ll have to taste a pod and decide just how edible it is. I hope, hope, hope it’s the edible pod variety. Quite honestly, I only planted the others because that’s what I found on my first trip to the store. Either way, I’ll need to provide something for these to climb very soon.
The smaller oblong containers in front contain edible flowers, lettuce (small and sad, and growing very slowly), spinach, and Swiss chard. The round pots are not part of the garden: a mum, a poinsetta that might be dead already though I’m hoping it comes back, and boganvia from my brother-in-law’s wedding last May. I nearly killed it several times, but it keeps coming back. I like stubborn plants.
I also have a large pot that I divided into 4 compartments with cardboard. This is holding 4 new cuttings from my mom’s fig tree. If you think they look sad, don’t worry. It’s normal for most or all of the leaves to drop off. In fact, we pulled most of them off to lighten the load while the branches are trying to grow roots. I’m really hoping my air layerings take off, but these cuttings will be the backup plan. If they survive, that is.
Now, are you wondering about the plants that failed so quickly? My earth boxes were fairly easy to make, but once I done with basic construction I got excited and didn’t follow the directions very well. I didn’t fill them to the very brim with dampened potting mix. Instead, I filled them to a reasonable level with very dry mix. Then I rushed ahead to planting, and placed 2 cups of fertilizer in a row down the middle or side, as directed.
Do you see a problem yet? Since the potting mix was dry, I had to water it thoroughly from the top at first. I learned this the hard way after waiting 4 days for moisture to wick up from the bottom. When I watered thoroughly from the top, I think I dissolved a good bit of the fertilizer right into the germinating seeds – too much of a good thing. The few that survived long enough to struggle to the surface looked distinctly burned. A second problem was that the level of soil dropped significantly once it was dampened. This seems to give the seedling trouble finding an opening, make them more susceptible to wind, and probably allows rain to puddle under the plastic, dissolving more fertilizer than is good for them.