Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Garden Misc - What?!

So I've been having a bit of an email exchange with a friend of mine who is thinking of starting a garden.  But since she's a renter, she doesn't necessarily want to build raised beds and whatnot.  Plus, where she lives, she is plagued by the Yeti-Opossum (her term) and Super-Squirrels (and mine!) who routinely steal the citrus that are growing in her yard.  So she was thinking about container-grown veggies...

Love this pic!
Can't quite read the photo-credit - but I hope he/she doesn't mind!

I managed to slam out this little reply to her, today, and figured it was generic enough to share here!

* * * * *

...Back to your Container Grown Veggies situation.  While not a solution to the squirrel problem, I thought I'd share nonetheless...

I freaking LOVE these things:

No, I don't get spliff for suggesting 'em. Well, I could if I sent you an Amazon Affiliate link (but Amazon is more expensive than ordering directly).

In any event - I swear by these for veggie growing.  I've been using them for about 3+ years now (summer and cool season veggies) and have had amazing success. 

Last year's maters (early season):

2 maters per planter...  By season's end, they started growing up, BEYOND the cage-tops (which were taller than I could reach!).

I even grew CORN successfully in them, one year. (and I have NEVER gotten edible corn from my garden in the past).

Every spring, I dump last year's soil into another bed (that I'm trying to build-up) and I start with fresh organic garden soil (giant 3 cu-ft bag from Home Depot - although I can't remember if it took more than one bag for all three planters).  I amend with steer manure (also Home Depot) and compost (from my compost pile).  I did experience a little blossom end rot on some of my maters last year.  I've been saving/crushing egg-shells from The Girls.  I'll add that to my 'Mater Mix this year...

Crazy, huh?

Anyhoooo...  I really like how you fill the reservoir in the bottom - rather than "top-water" the plants (cootie-free leaves!).  The spun fiber mulch-sheet keeps the moisture in (and weeds out).  Very water-conscious for California.  During summer's peak, I had to keep filling them fairly regularly - but far-less frequently than the "regular" patio-pot-planters.  I mixed up liquid fertilizers to add to the reservoirs when the maters were flourishing (actually, I used flushed/"used" hydroponic solution from my hydro-lime tree - whenever I changed the 'nutes).

I put mine up on a shelf made of cinder-blocks and a hunk o' wood - to keep the ravenous weenie-dogs at bay.  I also used these 'mater cages (that can go double-decker height)

The cages don't fit inside the planters, so the bases extend beyond the width of the boxes, and I tied 'em all together with extra garden-stakes and twine (the garden stakes go clear to the ground).  It was a very sturdy support system!   Alternatively, I think gardenpatch sells trellisy things that "fit" the grow-boxes perfectly.  Can't comment on them since I don't use 'em.

If I wanted to get SUPER-CRAZY, I'd rig the thing up on cheap movers-dollies so I could move it around to maximize sunlight thru the growing season (yah - NO!)

All told, the initial investment was pretty hefty ~$100 for 3 planters and - I think I paid appx $50 (on-sale) for the cages.  But since it's been soooo successful (very ample harvests over 3+ years), I think it was money well-spent.

As for Super-Squirrel...  Maybe try some bird-netting draped over the cages?  Not sure if that would be 100% squirrel-proof (and the plants will probably try to grow through it anyway).  Alternatively, maybe Google "Keep squirrels out of the garden" for other ideas.  I saw someone suggested cheap pinwheels as a squirrel deterrent (Maybe?  I actually do have some shimmery pinwheels in my raised beds - just 'cause I like cheesy, colorful crap in my garden beds - and I haven't had any critter-nibbling - never realized that the pinwheels were an actual deterrent!)

Ehhh...  That's it for my Brainstorm this morning.

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