I am about seven weeks into the growing season for our first ever container vegetable garden. So far everything is flourishing. We have experienced thunder storms, downpours, extremely hot & extremely humid weather and still everything is happy & healthy. The only damage the garden has sustained was caused by our 50lb pup Molly who decided to tear through the cucumber and beets a few weeks ago.
The surviving beets have recovered and look beautiful. I am eager to start harvesting.
We are growing all heirloom/organic veggies using no pesticides or chemicals. Pests are a big worry so I am diligent about checking for them daily. I am using companion planting where possible. The use of flowers such as borage Nasturtium and marigold are said to keep away bad bugs and invite the good ones. So far so good.
Here is a healthy looking cabbage.
This property is a bit unusual and to maximize growing space we have three different garden spaces.
Veggie Garden #1
The first garden is on the deck directly off the kitchen. We had to reinforce the deck for safety before we could even get started on this garden. We planted beans & peas all along the back so trellising them would be simple.
Veggie Garden #2
The second garden is lined along the driveway. We stained these containers yellow & added some stencilling to give them a little more curb appeal. This garden is the largest of the three with over 72 square feet of space (plus assorted containers crammed with herbs) and just today I have expanded this garden by another 24 square feet. We just have to decide what to plant on the new space.
Veggie Garden #3
The third garden is hidden away but still reasonably close to the other two gardens. It is south facing however there is a fair amount of shade from the house, the deck and the woods. We had to tidy this muddy area, fill it in with gravel, level it etc. I was not sure how well this garden area would fare with all that shade.
This year its been more of an experimental garden area. I have planted pumpkins, squash, watermelon plus overflow of tomatoes. One container has 10 cabbage/broccoli planted (should be 6 at absolute max ..some would say 4) I just could not weed out the excess, they all looked so healthy! I am going to creatively try and see if we can make this work.
Plenty of weeding & watering & inspecting for bugs/pests happens daily but the raised bed gardens are pretty easy to maintain once you get them started. So far, raccoons, porcupines, a plethora of birds and some very fat black squirrels have been sighted near the garden. Our two dogs earn their keep.
The Online Garden Planner
As for what we planted and where, I ended up using a great online tool created by Mother Earth News . They include options for square foot gardening and I found it to be a really well thought out tool. Although basic, the visual aide it provides is truly helpful when planting the garden and the other resources they provide are useful.
This is my basic plan for the patio garden
Here is the initial planting of seeds & seedlings on May 14th.
The patio garden on May 29th (the seedlings sitting on the rack are flowers for the front garden)
Here is the patio garden as of June 30th 2013. I love seeing the progress. Gardening demands such patience.
This all looks like a lot of food, but when you do the calculations its less than 1/3 of what we need to grow for a family of our size. We will be preserving, dehydrating the excess food – nothing gets wasted. I also have a lot to learn about saving seeds and have just started reading about it. I found a good starting resource here & lastly I want to look at building “cages” to sit on top of the containers so I can start the garden earlier next year & provide some protection from severe weather over the summer.