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Showing off

Posted by btbarbara 7b/8a (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 3, 11 at 10:22

I have this thing about doing everything the hard way and I love to do what "they" say can't be done. So my container garden started out kind of crazy...watermelons, cantaloupes, pumpkins, corn...not your traditional container veggies. I fully attribute this to beginner's luck and I don't know that I'll try these in containers next year but for all the naysayers...

we have corn! The first silks appeared about 3 days ago. I've been trying to hand pollinate but the watermelon vines have surrounded the corn container so I can't get to it too well. And I don't know how tall the stalks are but I'm 5'11" and I can't reach the highest tassles even on my tip-toes. Still, those first few "hairballs" actually look like ears of corn now! There are ~15 stalks in this 31-gal container and this morning I counted 10 silks but like I said, the first ones just appeared a couple of days ago and more are sprouting fast so I'm hopeful that we'll get enough to make it worth it. One good-sized ear will be enough for my boys and me for one meal so we don't need too many. A few weeks ago we had a bad storm that knocked all the stalks over so I wound up using bamboo stakes and twine to make a "fence" around this box which seems to give just enough support and it's pretty much invisible.

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I picked a watermelon a couple of weeks ago to take to a family shindig but it wasn't good and ripe yet. It still got eaten but I was bummed because I really wanted to impress everyone with my farming prowess. Monday was the first day of school so when my boys got off the bus, I surprised them by picking another one. It was a Jubilee that weighed over 20 pounds and was PERFECT! I don't even care for watermelon and I ate two slices. It was so sweet and juicy! My 7-year-old definitely approves (his favorite part was spitting the seeds in the yard so we may REALLY be drowning in watermelon next year!):

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I want to get an earlier start next year and like I said, I'm not sure I'll do melons in containers again next year but the timing couldn't have been better. This was the perfect first day of school surprise! One of my Crimson Sweets split on the vine the other day and none of them have fully ripened yet so I don't know how they'll be. There are 3 of those in 14" pots (no kidding!) and about 9 melons almost soccer ball size between them so we'll see. I didn't really expect those to do anything so I'm just shocked. The one jubilee that is in a 31-gal tub with two pepper plants has just blown me away. I really don't see how that one could possibly do any better in the ground...it has at least 9 melons that are bigger than footballs and several that are 20+ pounds...and it's still setting new fruit every day.

No ripe cantaloupe yet but there's one that's getting close and 9 more that are bigger than softballs.

My garden is in my front yard and apparently my landlord is not impressed but my neighbors (unless they're really good liars) think it's awesome. One neighbor asked me if I'd help her plant a fall garden and three others have come over to "help" me harvest.

Every time I brag or show off, something bad happens so I'm definitely NOT bragging. This is entirely beginner's luck! They're all cheapo plastic tubs and boxes with MG potting mix and Black Kow and $.25 seed packets from Walmart...about as low-tech as it gets. I'm just thrilled to death though.

My 7-year-old told me that we should turn our house into a grocery store for our friends and family and people that don't have any money. They can tell us what they want and we'll go pick it for them. He also said when we move out of this house, we should move to a big farm so we can grow all our own food and save money on groceries so I won't have to work so much. Since we'll have some extra veggies, we can share with the people that don't have food and if they're nice we can even share the good stuff like watermelon to give them something to be happy about when they're having a hard time. :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Showing off

SATISFACTION. glad to see your corn made it.


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RE: Showing off

I grew popcorn a couple of years ago in a container. Some tips -
- Use a step stool or ladder, as needed. (I'm 5'11" too, so, trust me - even we need help getting that high. lol)

- Hand pollinate when it's 90 degrees or hotter. (I learned that one online somewhere that year.) And, preferrably, 3-5 days in a row, so right smack in the middle of a heat wave. (Warning, take a big glass of water, because it gets even more humid and hot, when your face is in the cornstalks.)

- Don't expect robust, beautiful cobs. We had 7 cobs of popcorn and I still had to add an equal amount of store-bought popcorn for a batch of popcorn.

Well worth the effort just to say, "I did it,", but I will have to forget how hot I was a lot longer, before I'll ever do that again. lol

Congrats! So...going for pumpkin next? I've done that by accident, (tried to bribe the neighborhood squirrels with pumpkin seeds, so they wouldn't eat our tomatoes, but they buried the pumpkin seeds shortly before a spring vacation and ate our tomatoes anyway) but read it can't be done in a container. If you go for it, you'll spend a lot of time redirecting the vine and squirting it to fight powdery mildew, but delicious. lol

Lynn


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RE: Showing off

This is a really wonderful story. I'm so happy for you and your 7-year old! Enjoy your bounty. You've already experienced some of the difficulties of gardening, but the joys more than make up for it, don't they? You've got the garden bug. Thanks for sharing.


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RE: Showing off

That just amazes me, and to see the kindness your son has at that age even more!

Reap the rewards of your hard work with your plants and son and never look back regretting the things you have done.

Look at how many things you learned, especially in risk you took. Now you will know even more the next time you decide to grow let's say, a supermarket of goodies!
By the way, fresh sweet cold watermelon in my favorite, especially on a HOT day at the beach!

Thanks for that wonderful story and this smile on my face this am.

Yummy.

Mike


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RE: Showing off

Love the pic of your boy with his face in the melon slice! Great job on the veggies!


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RE: Showing off

Thanks everybody! I think I managed to jinx myself again because I went to pick up a couple of the bigger jubilees the other day and something (bugs) had chewed their way in there and cleaned up. The bottom half of the melons were just a mushy black mess. I cut them open just to see and they weren't really ripe yet (not that we would have eaten them full of bugs but I wanted to know) so I had to toss those. Due to some ill-timed watering and freak rain, a couple of the smaller ones have split on the vine and had to be tossed as well. Some of the mid-sized ones show signs of being ripe (color fading a little, tendrils drying out) but don't really sound hollow when tapped and just aren't very big. I don't want to pick them too early but certainly don't want to let them sit there and rot. Right now I'm just watching them closely. There are still new little melons popping up every day and some of the vines are still flowering so I think we'll have plenty. I'm more interested in the new peppers I planted for the fall! I planted Cayenne seedlings earlier in the summer and they were "ok" for a while and then just all of a sudden exploded. I planted a fajita bell, red bell, and mammoth jalapeno a couple of weeks ago and they're fine but I'm ready for the explosion. Based on what I've seen this summer, I think they're probably going crazy UNDER the soil and getting ready for a good crop so I'm not worried, just impatient. I planted two Early Girl tomatoes at the same time in hopes of getting some fall tomatoes. I planted them both really deep (several inches of stem under the soil) so they'd get good roots. One of them is starting to grow now, the other still looks about the same as when I planted. Again, I know they take time to settle in but I've had all the delayed gratification I can take!

@valentinetbear - I did start pumpkins this year, but I burned them with fertilizer or something and wound up scrapping the idea. When I was asking questions about them, someone on here posted pics of his pumpkin containers. The varieties I had were "giants" I think so I wonder if they would have survived the season. The vines were about 10' long (with lots of secondary roots sprouting along the vines) when I lost them. I was already having to water (at least) twice a day at that point so the way it's been lately, there's no way I'd have been able to keep them watered. When I dumped them, the roots filled up the containers they were in (1 in an 18-gal and 3 in a 31-gal) but they were not pot-bound at all. I *might* try a smaller variety in the biggest container I can spare next year just to see how it goes but I also promised the boys we'll plant jack-o-lanterns in the ground. I've started digging out a spot in the back yard already. Every time it rains or I get bored (doesn't happen often with two little boys to keep me busy!) I go dig for a bit. I figure by next summer, I should have a respectable hole where I can put some garden soil and compost and do some of the bigger stuff in the ground. We'll see...


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RE: Showing off

Boys are with their dad this weekend but my first ear of corn was ready and I just couldn't wait...two words: YUM-MY! Just can't let the kids find out I ate the first one without them!

Picked two more watermelons today and gave to a neighbor...I've already got two more inside waiting to be eaten. Believe it or not, the boys are getting burnt out on watermelon. NEVER thought I'd see that day! I keep thinking that when these are ready, I'll pull those up but every time I pick one, I find five more little ones. And the vines are still growing and stretching like mad. I have this nightmare about the vines swallowing up the house. haha

Picked the last of the cucumbers and pulled those plants up...don't know if it's bugs or disease or gardener error but I'm tired of seeing them so sickly looking and I've only been getting maybe one or two usable cukes every few days. Haven't decided yet whether to replant them for the fall. I've got a ton of pickles put up already but those grow so fast and plentiful that it keeps me motivated when everything else slows down and we do LOVE pickles!

My fall tomatoes and peppers are flowering but it's so stinking hot I'm not sure how they'll do right now. Hopefully even if they don't fruit right away, they're getting stronger and will be ready to produce when it cools down a bit. My basil's doing great too...just waiting on the tomatoes!

My cantaloupe is hanging in there. It looks horrible but the fruits are growing so I can't bear to do anything to it. Just keep giving it lots of TLC and hoping these fruits ripen ok. At the beginning of the season, the cantaloupe took off a lot faster than the watermelon but the watermelon's definitely been more forgiving as the summer wears on.

I picked my Cayenne peppers clean a few weeks ago and those plants are so full now that every branch is dragging the ground. I've staked them but there are a couple of hundred peppers between the four plants. They're starting to turn red now but bunches of them have spots that I think are sunburn. I moved the two smaller pots into the flower bed where they'll get afternoon shade but the two that are in the tub with the watermelon are on their own. The corn kind of blocks the afternoon sun on them a little bit. Even with the bad spots, I've got more Cayenne than I'll ever be able to use.

My strawberries surprised me by putting out a bunch of flowers the other day but the berries never got bigger than 1/4" and just dried right up. I don't know what kind some of the strawberries are so I keep watering them and watching. Some are Ozark Beauties which should produce another harvest in the fall so I'm hoping that wasn't it!

I might become a farmer yet!


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Update

Boys are with their dad this weekend but my first ear of corn was ready and I just couldn't wait...two words: YUM-MY! Just can't let the kids find out I ate the first one without them!

Picked two more watermelons today and gave to a neighbor...I've already got two more inside waiting to be eaten. Believe it or not, the boys are getting burnt out on watermelon. NEVER thought I'd see that day! I keep thinking that when these are ready, I'll pull those up but every time I pick one, I find five more little ones. And the vines are still growing and stretching like mad. I have this nightmare about the vines swallowing up the house. haha

Picked the last of the cucumbers and pulled those plants up...don't know if it's bugs or disease or gardener error but I'm tired of seeing them so sickly looking and I've only been getting maybe one or two usable cukes every few days. Haven't decided yet whether to replant them for the fall. I've got a ton of pickles put up already but those grow so fast and plentiful that it keeps me motivated when everything else slows down and we do LOVE pickles!

My fall tomatoes and peppers are flowering but it's so stinking hot I'm not sure how they'll do right now. Hopefully even if they don't fruit right away, they're getting stronger and will be ready to produce when it cools down a bit. My basil's doing great too...just waiting on the tomatoes!

My cantaloupe is hanging in there. It looks horrible but the fruits are growing so I can't bear to do anything to it. Just keep giving it lots of TLC and hoping these fruits ripen ok. At the beginning of the season, the cantaloupe took off a lot faster than the watermelon but the watermelon's definitely been more forgiving as the summer wears on.

I picked my Cayenne peppers clean a few weeks ago and those plants are so full now that every branch is dragging the ground. I've staked them but there are a couple of hundred peppers between the four plants. They're starting to turn red now but bunches of them have spots that I think are sunburn. I moved the two smaller pots into the flower bed where they'll get afternoon shade but the two that are in the tub with the watermelon are on their own. The corn kind of blocks the afternoon sun on them a little bit. Even with the bad spots, I've got more Cayenne than I'll ever be able to use.

My strawberries surprised me by putting out a bunch of flowers the other day but the berries never got bigger than 1/4" and just dried right up. I don't know what kind some of the strawberries are so I keep watering them and watching. Some are Ozark Beauties which should produce another harvest in the fall so I'm hoping that wasn't it!

I might become a farmer yet!


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RE: Showing off

At the very least, your kids can have some appreciation of the work involved in getting food to the table. You either pay for it or you work for it. Priceless. And those watermelon vines will provide lots of fodder for your compost. Mine have overtaken the plastic chicken wire around their spot, are climbing the sunflowers and tomato cages, went across the grass, and will be commandeering the fence soon. I didn't expect every seed in the pack to germinate. That only happens when you're couting on it NOT happening. And hardly ever with flowers, just veggies.

Yesterday I picked a few toms for the first time in almost a month. Certainly can't explain that since there's been no change in the weather and it's been 90+ every day since mid-April. If they're still green and growing, I don't give up on them.

I wish my yellow bell peppers were doing a fraction as well as your cayennes!


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