My Container Garden

NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))July 28, 2014

I wanted to share a bit about what I have going on with my container garden this year. I have had excellent success growing my food in all sorts of containers and want to encourage people who are interested in starting their own that it is not only cost effective and relatively simple, but you can also have wonderful plants and huge harvests.

My set-up includes 5 Earthboxes, 12 5-gallon self-watering "global buckets" and dozens of other containers of various sizes and shapes. I HIGHLY recommend setting up your container garden on timed drip lines because hand watering becomes extremely challenging as plants mature and begin fruit set. I have single plants drinking more than two gallons of water per day when high temps reach 90-95.

What I've listed below constitutes the majority of what I've grown, or am currently growing, in containers this season. It may not be all-inclusive, as I do not have my records in front of me as I post this.

In Earthboxes:

1. (i) Black Cherry tomato and (ii) Grape tomato;
2. (i) Early Girl tomato and (ii) Park's Whopper tomato;
3. (i) National Pickling cucumber (x2) and (ii) Straight 8 cucumber (x2);
4. (i) Giant Marconi sweet Italian pepper (x3) and (ii) Sweet Banana pepper (x3);
5. (i) Green Bell pepper (x2); (ii) Jalapeno (x2); and (iii) Mammoth Jalapeno (x2)

In 5-gallon self-watering "global buckets":

1. Early Girl tomato;
2. San Marzano tomato;
3. Roma tomato;
4. Better Bush tomato;
5. Japanese (Ichiban) eggplant;
6. Lemon cucumber (x2);
7. Yellow Straightneck squash;
8. Yellow Crookneck squash;
9. Sweet Banana pepper (x2);

  1. Giant Marconi sweet Italian pepper;
  2. Anaheim pepper; and
  3. Carmen sweet Italian pepper

In other non-self-watering containers:

1. Fort Laramie strawberries (x18 - in a half-whiskey barrel);
2. Queen Ruby beets;
3. Scarlet Nantes carrots;
4. Purple-Top white turnips;
5. 5 varieties of radish;
6. Sugar snap peas;
7. Green onions (re-planted from grocery store cuttings);
8. Celery (re-planted from grocery store cutting);
9. Herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary and oregano);

  1. Various looseleaf lettuces;
  2. Spinach;
  3. Bush beans

Obviously, the cool season crops are done for another week or two until I plant from seed for fall. Right now, I have the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, beans, strawberries, onions, celery and herbs going like gangbusters.

I've included photos below showing the garden as of 07/28/14. My apologies for blurriness, as these were taken before sunrise and on my phone.

Rather than make this post longer, if anyone has questions about what I do or how I do it, successes and failures (plenty of both), feel free to post those questions and I will answer appropriately. I could go on for days..

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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

More garden..

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:24PM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

Some buckets..

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:25PM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

Carmen sweet peppers and Anaheim peppers:

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:26PM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

Left to right - Japanese eggplant, roma tomato, San Marzano tomato..

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:27PM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

Strawberry ripening!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:28PM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

Crookneck squash:

This post was edited by NBM81 on Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 13:30

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:29PM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

Bucket early girl on right (8' tall) and straightneck squash on left. Bush beans behind early girl..

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:32PM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

07/26/14 harvest!

Two straightneck squash, two eggplant, two carmen peppers, 7 banana peppers, 7 beets, 7 green onions, one pickling cucumber, handful bush beans and bunch of basil, parsley and rosemary for the dehydrator.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 1:33PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Good job! I myself though do not like the look of commercial containers and such. My wife would kill me.
As far as growing, you seem to have that down. I like this time of year, harvest time!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 7:18AM
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christine1950

Everything looks really neat & tidy and your harvest is great, but I'm wondering as I live in an apartment with no yard, why do you use containers and not your lovely looking yard?
Christine

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 8:31AM
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fireduck(10a)

NB...I have two questions: 1. Are the Earthboxes as great as people say??? 2. For the water-from-top containers...is mulch important? Thanks

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 9:23AM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

@ Drew - Haha!! I will admit I don't like the look of the HD containers myself, but in all honesty, they're cheap and they work really well for me. Needing two for each set-up, using traditional containers of some sort would get mighty expensive, plus it would defeat the purpose of more expensive planters to drill holes all over them. The buckets are like $2/ea and can be used for all kinds of things when I'm not using them for growing. :) It also makes for very interesting over-the-fence conversations with intrigued neighbors.

@ Christine - I don't use the yard because I don't want a permanent garden. Using containers, I can have as small or as extensive a garden as I choose each year. I can also move containers around as needed to take advantage of sun, rain, etc. or vice versa. Another reason I don't have a more permanent garden because I don't want that to be a deterrent to potential buyers down the road (i.e. someone who doesn't want a garden) and I don't want to look at an empty garden space if I decide not to plant one year. With containers, it can all be changed quickly and effectively whenever I want. We do have some raised beds in the front yard that we've been using for flowers for the past few years, but I am throwing around the idea of using some of the space next year for peppers and eggplant since they're such beautiful plants (especially the eggplant).

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:31AM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

@ fireduck - I will preface this by apologizing for my lengthy responses, but I've always found that the more information one can provide, the more the other can benefit.

I am absolutely loving the EBs so far. Keep in mind this is my first year using them. I have read the first year is usually hit or miss while the dolomite and such break down and become viable, but I actually assembled all of my stuff in mid-March with that in mind. I had minor BER on some tomatoes, but overall, they're doing very well. I have staking systems on 3 of them and they work fantastic. It would be nice if they were less expensive and about two feet taller, but I can easily craft something with cheap posts and jute to accomplish this. I'm not paying the money for the extensions - my plants would already be exceeding those, as well. Lastly, I am using the AWS which is necessary as far as I'm concerned. It works perfectly, is super simple to install and looks great. I bought the 6-pack and am using 5. Again, a bit pricey, but so worth it.

Regarding mulching the containers that I top water, I only mulched the celery and the bush beans. The celery because it likes to be super moist all the time and the beans because I used a container that's too small and they were drying out quickly. The strawberries, herbs, onions and root veggies I do not mulch because I don't want them to stay too moist. I just check the moisture with my index finger (first knuckle) and water as needed. A good watering each morning takes care of the onions, beans and strawberries, as any excess drains out of the containers. The herbs actually benefit from drying out a litttle, so those only require water about every 3-4 days; every two days with last week's intense heat. The celery and herbs also get some shade from the tomato plants, so that helps not only with watering, but is also helping delay bolting with the parsley and basil. I mulched herbs last year and actually found that they do better for me without it. My advice would be to add it if you find your plants are stressed or drying out too quickly and don't worry about it if they seem to be doing fine and you can devote time for daily watering. I am certainly not an expert in any way - trial and error, and really good notes (I make myself weekly video updates of the garden - things that work and things that don't), will ensure you impose what's best for your situation. A simple drip line with a volume regulator on the end would be a very good way to ensure everything is watered regularly and evenly. I haven't incorporated drip lines into my top-water containers yet, but I probably will once I get my fall containers together. That leaves time for pruning, harvesting and peace of mind. :)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 12:06PM
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christine1950

MBM81, Thank you for your explanation, you are a very logical person. I enjoy reading how & why you do things, its giving us lots of knowledge.
Christine

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 1:15PM
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t.horn(7)

Very good info. I've done raised veggie beds in the yard for years and I'm starting to wonder if I should switch to the SWC - they seem to get a higher yield and are easier to manage.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 2:07PM
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NBM81(Zone 5b (Denver/Boulder))

@ t.horn - I don't know anything about growing in raised beds or in-ground, so I can't compare my own experience, however, I have a neighbor who has been raised bed gardening for 30+ years and she is blown away at what my garden is doing this year. She was motivated enough to fill a half-whiskey barrel with 4 pepper plants that are producing better for her than they ever did in her raised beds or in the ground.

If you're thinking about doing it anyway, I say go for it. Will your containers be better than raised beds? Who knows? So many variables affect final outcomes that the only way to know is to do it. If it doesn't work out for you, at least you'll have some wonderful orange (or whatever other color) buckets that can be used for something else. :)

Happy gardening.

nbm81

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 2:51PM
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