Category Archives: Containers

Homegrown Carrots in 5 Easy Steps

image (3)Carrots can be tricky little buggers, but in a few easy steps, you can be growing carrots in your backyard or on your patio. Here’s what I’ve learned from my carrot-growing experience:

Step 1: Plant in Containers

IMG_3973I will never grow carrots in the ground again. Adding light and fluffy, nutrient-rich potting soil to containers creates an amazing environment for beautifully formed roots.

Step 2: Shallow Seed Sowing

Sow the seed near the surface and just sprinkle the top with potting soil to barely cover. Carrot seeds are small and you don’t want to bury them.

Step 3: Keep the Seed Bed Moist!

photo (18)This step is probably the most important! Germinating carrot seeds can be tricky so it is imperative that the seed bed stays moist. I achieve this by cutting a piece of floating row cover and placing it over the top of the container, loosely so that young carrot seeds can grow without getting smashed.

Step 4: Keep Your Eye Out!

IMG_3975Place the buckets or containers where you can keep an eye on them. Inconsistent watering is a killer for carrots – you’ll want to be able to see it and know when you need to water again. Also, after you sow your seeds, you’ll need to watch for your seedlings so you can thin them.

Step 5: Thin Those Babies!

photo (15)photo (16)photo (17)Thinning is critical for carrots. If you want beautifully round carrots, you need to give them room to grow. Carrots don’t appreciate having their roots disturbed, so thin them with a pair of sharp scissors. First, find the biggest, best-looking seedling in the stand of carrot seedlings. Then, gently cut away all the other seedlings except the one you’re saving.

I’ve been watering my beets and carrots with the Alaska brand fish emulsion fertilizer designed for blooming plants. It’s 0-10-10, high in the nutrients that promote root development and overall plant health.

That’s all there is to it – 5 steps to backyard carrots.

square_footWant to learn more tips for growing lots of food in a small space? Join me in my Space Saver Gardening class this Saturday! I’ll help you build your plant family knowledge and square foot gardening skills! Sign up here.

 

 

5 Reasons Why Wine Bottle Raised Beds Are the Best!

wine_pathIf I had a nickel for every time someone asked me if I had fun drinking the wine for my bottle-raised bed, I’d be a rich woman. The truth is while I did contribute a few bottles to the project, most of them were donated. The wine bottle raised bed that I created in the front yard is a conversation starter, for sure. Folks are always asking me what they’re for. So, here it is – the wine bottle raised bed lowdown and why I think you should make one!

beforeafter1. Ease – Building a wine bottle bed is easy and there are no tools required! Ok. That’s only sort of true. I used a garden hand tool ( like this hand weeder) to get some of the holes started. I created a “pilot hole” and then pushed the bottle firmly into the ground until the shoulders of the bottle touched the ground. I built my wine bottle bed as a raised bed – a contained border that holds “new” soil. The bottles help to contain the new garden soil and compost I loaded in.

Picnik-collage2. Sustainability – Recycling people’s wine bottles as the material for my raised bed meant I saved the lumber I’d normally use. The bottles stay out of the recycle plant and work in my garden instead.

upclose3. Drainage – Installing the wine bottles side by side allows for good drainage since there will naturally be a small space between each bottle.

wine_bottles4. Longevity – When I first installed my bed, someone asked about them breaking in the winter. They didn’t break last winter and are not filled with water, so I’m not worried about freezing water expanding and breaking the bottles. Also, glass takes hundreds of years (this resource says one million years!!) to decompose. That means they should last a hell of a lot longer than my wood raised beds. I’ll take it!

terrarium5.  Beauty – You already know I have a thing for glass art (check out my mosaic mural), so I think the bottles themselves look beautiful. But then, little ferns start growing in them, creating natural and unexpected terrariums and they become even more delightful! This has happened in almost every one of the clear wine bottles – it makes me smile every time I see it! As if I needed another reason to love this raised bed!

*Photo credit: The last two photos in this post were taking by my friend, Holli, at Holliwithani.com

The Joys of Salad Gardening

carpet_of_lettuceSalad_collageI’m a proud mama…of a whole lot of lettuce. I take as many pictures of my salad greens as parents do of their babies. Salad abounds on my little urban farm this year and it’s more beautiful than I remember.

salad_in_cansI’ve tucked it into every nook and cranny. It’s as beautiful as it is delicious and I just can’t seem to get enough. I’m going to continue to revel in the beauty and abundance that is my salad garden until the weather warms and the lettuce bolts.

bunny_poopIf you’re eating salad for every meal too, check out this post I wrote a few years ago with 20 Salad Suggestions. I’m going to need it.

Want to grow your own salad garden, but not sure where to start? Seeds and Seedlings 101 is what you need! This salad garden was started from seed and thinned to get the most out of the little seedlings that emerged. Click here for more information.

Keep Your Greens Cool During Warm Weather

lettuceThe lettuce I’m growing isn’t as thrilled as I am about this warm weather we’ve been having. Cool weather crops, like salad greens, need a little TLC when the temperature spikes.

While watering in the evening (late evening, when the sun is setting) isn’t the best since that’s when the slugs come out, it cools the soil down and gives tender greens a much-needed reprieve. Warm-loving plants like tomatoes, on the other hand, get watered in the early morning. They enjoy the warm soil and high nighttime temperatures.

You can give your greens a rest by sheltering them a bit with some shade cloth. Floating row cover (a.k.a remay), the white flowy garden fabric that looks like interfacing, can be placed over the cloche hoops that normally hold plastic. The row cover lets filtered sun light in as well as moisture when it rains. And remember, containers dry out quickly! Greens sown in pots may need a drink sooner than those sown in a raised bed. A little warm weather vigilance goes a long way.