Check out my container garden experiment!

captiveroots(6A)May 15, 2012

I know that people are often asking if certain things can be grown in containers and/or what yields to expect. As I was putting together my "wishlist" for this season, I searched high and low for clear, user-friendly answers to things like "if I plant 4 okra plants in a ____ sized container, how many okra would I get?"

Having had little luck in that regard, and understanding that there are several variables at work in yields, I decided to put together a blog chronicling not only my garden, but also the harvest yields for various planting situations (some of which are considered by many to be too crowded).

I invite anyone who is interested in the experiment, as well as a lot of container garden photos and posts, to check out my blog at the link below.

I'm growing 2 types of okra, 7 kinds of tomatoes, 3 kinds of peppers, broccoli, romanesco, tons of herbs, flowers, potatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, beets, lettuce, eggplant, and more!

I post updates regularly, and I would love to share my experiences with others who are interested in container gardening. It is amazing what you can grow in a small space!

Also, please feel free to comment! It's great to chat about gardening with other like-minded people!

Here is a link that might be useful: My Container Garden Experiment

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Glad to see you do not have our problem as even with a large garden we have to retreat to the deck for a container garden - owing to rabbits and deer. Even ON the deck we get ALL our pots dug up by squirrels and chipmunks.
For new seeds its probably 90% dug up. Once established by using a barbecue grill for protection the "dug-up" rate drops to maybe 35%!

Good luck and we will follow your project with great interest!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:09AM
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thank you! We are very lucky in that we're upstairs... Last summer we rented a place with a downstairs patio and it was the same thing: critters got all the goodies! I'm not even sure what it was, because we are in the middle of a city. I did see a rabbit around a few times, but of course there are also squirrels everywhere.

I think I got one Abe Lincoln tomato before we moved to our new place, because every time I noticed a tomato turning orange, the next day it would be chewed in half.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 12:54PM
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Good looking garden. Thanks for posting link. Like you, I'm insterested in increasing my yield this year by planting more plants per pot. I had been using the square foot gardening guide, but have read that potted plants can be placed closer together. I hope you keep posting your results, and may we both see our plants thrive!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 4:31AM
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I just posted a new update today.... things are going well and we just harvested a couple of strawberries! I also completely reorganized due to not planning on where the a/c was going to go beforehand....

So far the broccoli is doing really well with 3 plants in a 6.5 gallon planter. I posted a picture today on the blog. Whether that will translate to a good crop remains to be seen but the plants look really healthy.

Here is a link that might be useful: New photos of the garden and a long post

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 3:21AM
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I just posted an update today. It is amazing how quickly things grow in just a couple of weeks! The photos from 2 weeks ago look like an entirely different garden than what's going on out there now.

It's June 1 and I think we'll be eating zucchini in a week or so!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:20PM
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I posted a long update about zucchini, potatoes, and tomatoes in containers today...

The 11.4 gallon pots seem perfect for tomatoes (2 per pot). It turns out that a 5 gallon pot is a little to small for squash in my opinion, but the plant in a 6 gallon pot is doing great! More pics and thoughts at the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thoughts on container sizes....

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 2:33PM
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We harvested some broccoli today! It was delicious, and it turns out that the 3 plants per one 6.5 gallon pot worked out just fine! More details on the blog (link below).

Here is a link that might be useful: My Captive Roots blog

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 2:10AM
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Have you tried brocollini? It is a high yielding plant in 5 gallon containers on my shed roof. The advantage over brocolli is you get twice a week pickings of shoots over many months. I am still harvesting from plants that produced their first shoots at the end of December (seasons reversed as I am in Victoria, Australia). It is great for the cook as we can be assured of two meals per week from eight plants (one per container). Also, it grows all the year round here. In the summer I put mosquito netting over it to keep out the cabbage white caterpillars and also to give a litle shade.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 7:37AM
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What is your average temperature in the summer.
Brocolini is a great tasting, never considered growing it though as I only have direct garden sun during the hot months.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:33PM
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Nice pictures on your blogspot.
What are the hours of direct sunlight on your deck garden, what time does the sun first hit your plants and what time does it go into shade?

Also what is the average temperature on your deck?

I'm realizing how important it is for plants to have "non-wilting" direct sun hours. So morning sun is better if you are in a hot area.

How many hours per day do your plants get direct sun, but without wilting?

At what temperature do your plants start wilting, on sunny hot day?
I'm observing that the soil mix makes a big difference on when a plant starts wilting, even when it is fully watered.
You seem to be using a standard peat based mix.

Thanks for posting.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Emgardener, our mean maximium temp in January (mid summer) is 26.3 Celsius. We average 1.3 days per year above 40Celsius and ten days per year above 35C. In addition to the broccolini which has been producing since January and is due to be pulled out to make room for early potatoes, we have seven containers that have been cropping for 6 weeks and a few plants in the ground that have just started to produce shoots and will remain there until we plant Zucchini in November.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 6:26AM
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We harvested potatoes today, and I posted some pics and commentary on the blog! In a word, they were awesome!


Our porch faces west, so the the plants get direct sun from about 11am until 7 or 8pm. I have heard that the morning sun is the "good sun" but unfortunately the house blocks most of the morning sun.

The average temperature is a bit tricky to say. The porches in the city here are almost all built on top of lower sunrooms, and the floor of the porches is tarred to keep the lower roof from leaking. This makes the floor quite hot, but luckily we have a rug that mitigates this somewhat. If you were to stand on the porch barefoot in the summer without the rug it would burn your feet.

It is also quite windy most of the time, which helps with the heat a bit. I would say the average temperature is somewhere around 80-85 degrees on most summer days. If it's 75 outside, it's probably a touch over 80 on the porch if it's sunny.

My plants haven't wilted much in the heat. I think that using somewhat larger containers has helped with this. Most of my veggies are in at least 7 gallon pots, and the tomatoes are mostly in 11.4 gallon pots. I water about every other day when it doesn't rain, and it seems to work out well so far.

The soil mix I'm using is the Sta Green potting mix sold at Lowes. I chose it largely because it was so lightweight compared to some others (since we are on an upstairs porch). I bought some moisture control and some normal. The moisture control stays damp very well, but I unfortunately planted the okra of all things in that pot (and it liked to be a little dry). I think that's why it has taken so long to really get going.


Thanks for the heads up on the broccolini. We love broccoli but it's just not worth the space it takes on the porch. We had thought about broccolini, but I was a little hesitant because I wasn't sure what the yield would be. It sounds like a good thing to try.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Potato Harvest! (on the blog)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 2:17PM
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I've been hit with the dreaded blossom end rot! I posted a long update about it on the blog, but the long and short of it is that my black krims and heirloooms are most affected, but the cherries are fine. It also claimed a pepper or two, but nothing like the black krims.

I checked out the forums here for advice on dealing with BER, and I think my problem is the intense heat and constant wind lately has caused fluctuations in the soil moisture that are hard to control. I might try mulching the containers to minimize evaporation.

More to come, hopefully about how this problem has been solved!

Here is a link that might be useful: link to blossom end rot post

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 1:27PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

How are you providing Calcium for your plants?
At the beginning of the season, cool and wet soils often lead to BER in my garden. When the plants are
growing furiously, they often allocate Calcium for foliage growth instead of fruit production, which can
also cause BER. At this point in the season, however, I would suspect the fertilizer regimen.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 5:37PM
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I gave them a dose of tomato tone a couple of weeks ago, but I think I went too light on it as I was afraid to over apply it.

I did buy some calcium spray, and got serious about keeping very close watch on the soil moisture. My plan for combating the BER plague is outlined in my latest post (link below).

I know that some are very anti-calcium spray, because it is often a watering issue. At the same time, I am hoping to give the plants an extra shot of calcium right away with the spray, and then to render further spraying unnecessary because I will keep on top of the watering situation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to BER post #2

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 12:48AM
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I posted a lengthy update about the cucumbers today.

So far, it looks like 8 plants in one 11.5 gallon tub is working out great, as we have eaten 5 large lemon cukes and 2 straight 8, with several large straight 8 cukes out there ready to be picked now (I just cannot eat any more cucumbers right now!)

More pics and commentary on the blog link below....

Here is a link that might be useful: link to cucumber blog

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 2:19PM
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I have recently realized just how much the wind can affect the plants. I posted a long write-up about it, but the long and short of it is that it's been 105 degrees+ for weeks now on the sunny porch, with an almost constant breeze. I think this contributed to my blossom end rot issues, as plants were getting dried out fairly quickly.

Read more about the effects and what I'm doing to mitigate them on the link below...

Here is a link that might be useful: blog entry about the wind

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 2:13AM
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I just posted a long update today. To summarize: the eggplants I planted at the rate of two per 7 gallon square pot are producing like crazy! We got a 1 pound, 12 ounce black beauty the other day, and there are several more on that same plant that are about 1/4 of that size and growing fast.

More on the link below! What a great summer for eggplants!

Here is a link that might be useful: A Midsummer Night's Update

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 1:18AM
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