Am I doing this right?

OrganicTexasMamaApril 16, 2011

Hi! I'm just starting out with an organic vegetable/fruit container garden and am terrified I'm going to do something wrong and ruin it all. :/ I wish I had someone here to walk me through, step by step, but I'm hoping I can at least get some advice as I go along. :)

I have been consulting "Bountiful Container" and "Grow Great Grub" as my primary resources. I've also consulted with a couple of folks at a local organic gardening center. I confess to being rather overwhelmed with the amount of new information, to the point that it has, at times, been difficult to process it and make sense of any of it. I'm trying to take baby steps and learn things as needed, but I know if I go too fast I'll end up frazzled.

So, here's where I'm at:

I purchased organic starts from Sarah's Starts in Oregon, which were trucked in and arrived last Tuesday. I got:

- Diva cucumber (6pk)

- Zucchini (6pk)

- Sweet crimson watermelon (6pk)

- Big Beef tomato (x1)

- Strawberries (x4)

- Thyme (x1)

- Hummingbird/honeybee variety - lavender (x2), and two others I can't remember

- variety of lettuces (these were included, free, so I'm not entirely sure what they are)

- I had ordered additional herbs that were out of stock, so we'll get those another time. There's also a verbena plant my son picked at the garden store because he liked the flowers. :)

I have planted thusly:

- 4 strawberry plants in an approximately 18x12" terracotta pot

- 1 Big Beef tomato with pre-fab trellis (4') and six lettuces surrounding, in 20"x12" wooden barrel tub

- hummingbird/honeybee plants in 17"x8" wooden barrel tub

- thyme in 6" aluminum pot with holes punched for drainage

- verbena in 6" aluminum pot with holes punched for drainage

- approx 3 cucumber plants and 3-4 watermelon in a 20"x12" barrel tub (I think I'm going to need to move some of these, but they were dying quickly in the 6-packs so I needed to do something, and that's the last container I had.)

- I still need a container for my zucchini, which are doing alright in the 6-pk still. I'm debating using a food-safe plastic tub, but my husband is against using plastics for the potential leaching.

Everything is planted in an organic 50/50 mix I bought at the organic garden store. The guy i spoke to when I bought it indicated I wouldn't need to add compost or anything as it was already included (and I did see that on the ingredients). I watered the soil as I filled the containers and then watered the plants thoroughly after planting. I poured a dilution of liquid fish around all of the plants the day they were planted.

Other than that (most of which only happened yesterday!), I've just been trying to keep them watered. It's basically summer here, already, though actually a bit mild for us. Temps have been in the lower 80s during the afternoon, sometimes a little muggy and sometimes (today) quite dry and pleasant.

I did also buy liquid seaweed as I've heard it's good for pretty much everything, but I haven't used it. (I bought one spray bottle, which wouldn't spray, so I just used it for diluting the fish and poured from there to the base of the plants.)

I am not sure how I'm going to work the cucumbers and, particularly, the watermelons. I knew it was risky getting watermelon, but I'd *LOVE* to have them work - even if we only get one fruit! I ended up putting the healthiest looking of the starts all in the same pot because I had no other place, and the cucumbers, being half dead, weren't going to fill it up. I'm not sure if we should plan to let the watermelon run down and along the ground, or if we should try to trellis it and keep things up. I have been planning to trellis the cucumber and have a smaller trellis purchased for it. These are just flat, more decorative, trellises I purchased at Lowes. They did seem sturdier than the tomato cages, though they don't have the benefit of the conical shape.

So, I would love any help evaluating what I've done so far and what else I need to do. I know gardening takes time and work, but I just want to make sure I give it the best I can and, hopefully, get to enjoy some of the fruits of the labor!



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I wish that I could say something specific about containers; but in general, the important thing is that the little plants should not dry out. This can easily happen if the container is watered by moisture from below (by capillary action) or "wicked" (past participle of "wick") up (by wicks!) to the root zone of the transplants. If this happens, top-water the container (gently!) until the self watering containers start to function.
The water melon vine should do just fine if you let it run along the ground. I once planted some seeds in a crate (of well composted soil) and set it in the top of a large heap of stones. In time the whole heap was covered by the vine(s) and melons. Many were mystified as to how a pile of stones could produce so many water melons!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 7:11AM
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Thank you, ronalawn. These are not self-watering containers, so I've been out watering on a daily basis. But, I also don't want to over-water and rot out the roots. Eek! I'm hoping that daily watering will work as they settle into their new homes. It just seems like what they need (though one - either stalvia or coral nymph - seems not to like as much water?).

I suppose we need to pick a good spot for the watermelon that we can let get overrun with vines! I am seeing some new leaves on a couple of the watermelon and cucumber plants, so I'm hopeful they'll survive.

It looks like I've got strawberries developing already, which is quite exciting! I thought birds were getting to them, as the petals were in the pot rather than on the flower. But, it looks like that's normal course for them. Whew! Now I just have to worry about birds stealing my berries. :)


    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 1:32AM
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