I planted some wildflower seed paper in our purple ceramic pot, and I'm hoping it will add some color to our garden! The seed paper came from a Whole Foods gift card holder. I've always thought seed paper was really neat, but never planted any until now.
5 gallon bucket, 10 inch planter, 8 inch planter, herb troughAlthough pretty planters are certainly nice, the more reading and research I did, the more I realized that they weren’t necessary. I knew we could provide good room to grow without investing a ton of cash. Enter pickle buckets (AKA 5 gallon buckets). We picked these green buckets up at Menards for $2.78 each. I'm considering picking up some spray paint to make them more aesthetically appealing.
The problem with the buckets is that they don’t provide any drainage. Fortunately, that’s easily solved with a drill and a drip tray. Nick will be drilling holes in the bottom of each bucket, and they will rest on drip trays so they don’t drip on our downstairs neighbor! (An aside: because we live in an apartment complex, there’s always the issue of neighbors. I’m hoping to make friends with the nice lady who lives downstairs by sharing some of our produce with her, and by doing everything possible to avoid dripping or dropping things onto her patio!)
These buckets will be used for the tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers, eggplant, and carrots. I will also be companion-planting some herbs in those same buckets. For instance, my reference book says that tomatoes and basil like to grow together, because the basil helps shade the soil and has much shallower roots than the tomato plant (so they don’t compete for nutrients). We will only have one plant of most of these larger plants (because they need the nutrients to themselves), so companion planting lets us get a bit more out of the space.
The smaller plants got lucky when we went shopping for containers. Menards had some self-watering planters that were a good deal. We could have used smaller buckets for these plants too, but the buckets were actually not a better deal in this case, so we went with planters. I don’t know how well the self-watering feature will work, but in any case these should be functional. We have two sizes – 10 inch pots for the larger lettuces (swiss chard, kale), and 8 inch pots for the smaller lettuces and herbs.
We will also be using the ceramic pots we used on the windowsill garden (three six-inch pots and one six-inch strawberry pot). Some may be re-planted; I’m not sure yet.
And finally, one more container: the herb trough. This will be dedicated to our various types of basil.
Since we’re gardening in containers, we have to provide soil for the plants. It might seem like the best or thriftiest thing to do would be to take soil from the ground. Putting aside the fact that we don’t have any land to our names, so we’d be stealing the soil from someone, this is a bad plan for a few reasons. First, soil that’s good in the ground isn’t good in containers. Container soil is much lighter in texture and must drain better; soil from the ground will compact and be too hard in containers. Second, we need a very nutrient rich medium for our plants. Potting soil has this built in – the kind we are using contains compost for fertilization.
We’re using an organic potting soil mix (this one) because we want to keep our garden as close to organic growing as possible. We’re not planning to use regular fertilizers or pesticides. We will use a number of natural fertilizers, and deal with pest issues with natural remedies. (Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted!) There’s no telling how this will work out, but the more organic our garden is, the happier we will all be.
So how much is all of this costing? Later this week, we’ll take a close look at how container gardening is affecting our wallets.