Sunday, April 27, 2014

Planting Time...

This past Wednesday we got new soil for our planter boxes.  We had to leave behind the dirt from our boxes at the last house because they were just too heavy to move.  We were able to keep the stones for the bottom of the boxes so that was nice.  Next year I am hoping that I can use most of the same dirt and just add in some fresh fertilizer and compost to freshen things up.  If you were reading along last year, you know that Eric built us these 4 awesome planter boxes.
If you were wanting to attempt to make something like these of your own, the basic idea is that the liners are sheet metal with drainage holes bored in them and then they are framed in with pressure treated wood.  We are fortunate because Eric works for an HVAC company and we were able to get the sheet metal shop to fabricate the liners to a drawing that Eric gave them (for free even!).  The liners are important because you would not want to plant directly against pressure treated wood as chemicals could ooze out into your soil, yuck!  But if you didn't use pressure treated wood, your boxes would not hold up to the elements for as long and we are hoping to use these babies for quite some time.  Anyways, enough about the boxes...they are wonderful.
Since we are living in a different house than last year the first thing we had to do is decide where to place the boxes.  Most of the things we are planting need full sun so we placed the boxes in our side yard where it is sunniest.  Then we filled the boxes with pond stone and a mix of organic soil and compost.  It is important if you are planting in containers to use soil that is intended for containers versus directly planting in the ground.  The pond stone at the bottom helps with drainage which is critical to growing in containers.  If your containers don't drain well there is a high likelihood that your plants could die from being too wet.
Thursday I planted all the herbs and veggies for the year.  I planted 3 varieties of lettuce from seeds: Black seeded simpson lettuce, a baby red mix and baby romaine.  Lettuce grows quickly so that's why I went with seeds.  You usually see the sprouts in 7-10 days.  
Otherwise I planted starter plants.  Last year I planted everything from seeds originally which worked well but I started my seeds indoors in March.  I was slacking this year so I just started outside with starter plants.  This also gave me a better idea for spacing in the boxes.
This box has 4 varieties of peppers: jalapeno, cayenne, habanero & ancho peppers.
My 3rd box contains all of the herbs: parsley, oregano, rosemary, basil and cilantro.  I also planted dill but in a separate container.  Last year I learned that dill really spreads a lot while it grows and it will take over your entire container.  Our dill plant was so huge last year it was overtaking all the other herbs.

The final box contains tomatoes.  It has 4 plants: big boy, pink girl, better boy and better beef tomatoes.

Tips From Past Years
*When planting container gardens, drainage is so important.  If your container does not drain well, your plants will flood and die.  Two years ago we planted in containers that did not drain well and almost nothing survived.
*Dill will take over the entire container it is planted in so dedicate an entire container to dill.
*Do not overcrowd your containers.  Plants need space to grow to their full potential.  Last year our containers were a bit too full, specifically the tomato container.
*Mark your plants.  Last year I was a dummy and I didn't mark my plants.  I thought I would just remember what I planted where.  For the most part I did, especially with herbs that each have a unique look.  But I planted several varieties of tomatoes and peppers and they take the longest to grow.  By time they were growing into normal size plants I could not remember what was what.  I will post a tutorial for the markers I made this year on tomorrow's post.
Growing your own herbs and vegetables is really rewarding.  I am by no means an expert.  These are just things that worked for us.  I will continue to share with you our gardening successes and failures throughout the year.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  I will answer them if I can.
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