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Patio Gardens' Journal
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Date:2012-04-14 18:01
Subject:Succession planting in containers

Every year I tell myself that I'm going to start my garden earlier to maximize my growing season by planning my space more carefully and utilizing succession planting. And every year I get excited while it's still winter and then burn myself out a little and before I know it time has dribbled away and it's time to get the main summer plants in the pots. This year I managed to get a little bit of a head start, but even then the winter here in the mid-west was so mild that it segued into spring really early (even edging into summer in mid-March with temperatures soaring up near 90 several days), so once again I got caught a little unprepared. I did managed to get some 'spring crops' in though (Packman broccoli, bok choy, some lettuce and Swiss Chard-though that'll go most of the summer). So I decided, what the hell, I'll plan for the fall and have a solid plan in place for next spring. I'll talk about the details of my own garden when I post my first pics in just a bit.

I'll put this first part under a cut, both to save your screens and to separate it from the rest since it's taken directly from another source.Collapse )

The above lists are (for the most part) a little more unusual, to broaden your horizons. You can, of course, substitute your preferences. Here’s something I found with lists of more common vegetables and their general planting times/seasons:

Perennial Crops (that need a permanent home:
Asparagus, Rhubarb, Chives, Horseradish, Winter Onions

Crops that occupy the ground only the first part of the season:
Early Beets, Early Cabbage, Lettuce, Onion Sets, Peas, Radishes, Early Spinach, Mustard, Turnips

Crops that occupy the ground the major portion of the season:
Bush and Pole Beans, Lima Beans, Cabbage, Celery, Sweet Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Muskmelons, Okra, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Squash, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Swiss Chard

Crops to be planted in July or later for fall and winter gardens:
Bush Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Endive, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips, Collards, Lettuce,

Another link that looked good: Succession Planting with Vegetables in Containers

And one more with a slide show and lovely pictures!

Would anyone be interested in ideas for 'theme' gardens in a pot (or group of small pots)? Like an herbal tea garden, an Asian or Mediterranean garden, etc?

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Date:2011-07-06 17:32
Subject:The balcony - it's alive!
Mood: calm

I had pretty much decided to forgo the garden this year due to lack of money - then when money wasn't as much of a problem, lack of time - but my blank, empty, boring balcony kept mocking me and I gave in. I'm so glad! A few fresh veggies and herbs to nosh and some pretty flowers to brighten the view make all the difference. It's just the right balance of plants to keep me entertained but not over-burdened.

lotta semi-crappy balcony garden pics underneath - I really need a new digital cameraCollapse )

I'm also happy I decided to leave the bird feeder up. I usually take it down in the summer and just leave the water because the seeds invade my pots and grows like crazy forcing me to weed! But the little guys feeding are not only amusing for me, the keep Phoukathecat entertained for hours on end. The single grackle that found the feeder (he pays even more attention to the water) was OK, but he brought a flock of friends yesterday to I took the feeder down for the day. They either got the message (doubtful) or they have a look-out watching for movement and scatter when I'm around. *G*

My hummingbird feeder continues to be one of the best investments I ever made. I still find the little guys endlessly fascinating, esp the one that kept hovering down and peering in the balcony door yesterday. It seemed like every time I looked up there was the little Peeping Thomasina (Tom). The sight of them never fails to make me smile.

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Date:2011-07-02 20:06
Subject:bug off

Has anyone had any luck using household items or have any home recipes for pesticides? Or any other recommendations for products/brands to use to get rid of bugs on your plants?

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Date:2010-09-27 09:45

I've currently made the community 'members only' for posting because of all the spam. I'm sure we'll still get spam, but hopefully not as much.

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Date:2010-08-25 09:50

I'm so excited to have found this community!

My name is Mandy and I live in Zone 8B - Central Coast of California.  I have a long-suffering husband, a son who is my partner-in-gardening-crime and a sweet baby girl who just turned one.  Maggie Dog - who loves to roll in my freshly planted beds - rounds out our little family.

I'm a brown thumb gardener with big plans and little space.  (What I wouldn't give for an acre!  Or even a quarter of one!!)   I do what I can, which means that our yard has veggies tucked in nearly every possible spot and nearly every type of container. 

I've decided that learning to garden isn't like learning to ride a bike.  It's a life long process with a lot of failure and a little exhilirating success.   I joke that the plants that do survive my gardening attempts often do so in spite of my efforts not because of them. 

My main garden space is roughly the size of an office cubicle.  I try to practice square foot gardening, but then get a bit too excited and spoil my efforts by planting additional seeds just in case I accidentally kill everything off.  Beyond the main garden, I plant in the space between my postage stamp lawn and our fence line, in containers scattered on every available surface and hanging containers.  I was recently able to sway the majority to my side during a family vote and will be adding three raised beds along our in place of part of our little lawn next spring.  (Never underestimate the power of bribery.  Or a green bean teepee.)  I'll also be experimenting with planting strawberries vertically along a shady patch of fence.  

My pride and joy - beyond my children - is my espaliered six-in-one apple tree.  I love it so much I can just sit and stare at it.  I planted it last winter and hope that it'll start to produce within the next year or two.  It's beautiful.  I show it off to every visitor - even though their eyes start to glaze while mine brim with happiness.

I'm hoping to experiment with collonade fruit trees next year.  I have a 9'x8' patio off our bedroom which isn't doing anything.  I'm thinking...orchard.

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Date:2010-08-25 11:20
Subject:Hi! Newbie here
Mood: contemplative

I'm 35 years old, married and we have a nearly 3 year old little girl. My husband, daughter and I just recently moved in with his parents to help them though a tough time. We'll be living with them 6 months - 1 year.

We are also house hunting and while I hope to find a house with a nice backyard for gardening, right now my mother-in-law's backyard is smallish. She put a retainer wall on the hill in the backyard and added steps up to a patio swing, added a small play area for my daugther, and a beloved cat is buried there (a lovely little plot with a sleeping cat statue to mark it). Below this wall in the main part of the backyard is a small concrete patio and some grassy area.

I would like to have a garden because in our former house I was teaching my daughter about the Earth and caring for it through gardening. I would also like to develope habits that would give our little family a more self-sustainable life style.

We live just north of Atlanta, GA so we have warm weather until October. I would like to have a winter garden and it must be in pots for a couple of reasons. 1. I don't want to dig up my mom's yard and 2. I would like this to be something she and I do together even after we move out. (My mom-in-law would definately help me in this venture). I want to plant some flowers for beauty but also want to plant veggies and herbs. Herbs do great in pots and I know tomatoes do as well but what other veggies could I plant now and possibly have a small harvest before winter? What could I plant in the winter that I could see results come spring?

Thanks for any suggestions you might have. Blessed Be.

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Date:2010-04-10 15:21
Subject:Container, not just for flowers!
Mood: accomplished

X-post to the_snowgoose, patio_gardens, and gardening:

Who says you must stick with flowers for container gardening??

Here's some examples I've worked at and proud that this year is the best year for them:

This Azalea is 8 year old and by for the best blooms.


This Elm topiary is three years old and shaping up quite well.

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Date:2010-03-01 15:16
Subject:Upside-down, hanging tomato planters?


Has anyone used those Topsy Turvy tomato planters? I have a smallish balcony, but lots of sunlight. I thought these planters that hang upside-down might be a great use of the space I have available. I've seen the ads, but I'd like to hear from people who've actually used them. Are they as good as the advertisements claim they are? Any problems with them? Are there particular kinds of tomatoes that would be better grown in these as opposed to being planted in a right-side up planter or in the ground (eg, cherry tomatoes vs full-sized)?

Also, does anyone know if there are any knock-off brands that might be cheaper?

I'm in Northern California, SF Bay Area (but not in San Francisco itself - it's usually sunny in my neighborhood).

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Date:2009-09-01 00:26
Subject:LOLCAT gardening humor *G*
Mood: amused

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

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Date:2009-08-31 12:19
Subject:Plants to neutralize smokey odors?

Hi all,
Long story short I recently moved into a townhome, and my new neighbors smoke like chimneys. (I have pretty nasty allergies to several types of cigs) I keep finding references to being able to grow plants that can neutralize these odors (yes, i've cleaned and done all that jazz, it's definitely wafting in from their place) but can't find any lists of plants that would be good for that purpose.

So, my question is, does anyone have any ideas for plants to grow (indoors or out, I do have two patios and a balcony I can utilize + already planning on putting veggie/herb garden on one of those three) in zone 8a or 8b (my area appears to be right near the border) that might be good for neutralizing odors?

And a random question, if you're in an apartment or townhome, what are your favorite plants to grow?

Thank you for any and all help in advance!

(and I hope this isn't a bother, but I will be cross posting to gardening and naturalliving, if it is I'll definitely delete those!)

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Date:2009-08-23 15:47

Early this spring I told myself that I was going to show restraint in what I bought and planted. It was great in theory but yeah, didn't work so well. I keep telling myself though that I'm going to do 3 season planting - you know, spring plantings, followed by the tomatoes and peppers that I always have, plus something for the fall? Best intentions and all that. Last year I spring planted tiny dwarf bok choi and little Pack Man broccoli and they turned out pretty good. I don't know why I didn't follow up this year. I missed out on a couple of herbs I wanted, too - thyme, sage and dill, so I did a little planting today. I'll be bringing them in as house plants this fall along with my other herbs, so it's not too late. I also planted some broccoli raab for the cool weather and some Red Shiso or Perilla, an oriental herb that's also a beautiful plant that I'll bring indoors. I'm also going to try sesame more for a novelty because it also supposedly makes a pretty house plant. Plus I planted several pots with Red Robin Tomatoes for this fall and winter indoors.

Then I began just drift around on the 'net and here's a handful of interesting things I came up with:

Here's a great idea for people with very limited space:
A 3-tiered, stackable planter - each with 3 openings. You can actually stack up to 9 tiers. It also has a chain for hanging but that might get pretty heavy. They're also self watering. What a space saver!

EasyBalconyGardening is a fantastic site! It talks about apartment (indoor gardening), small balconies, greenhouses, organic pesticides, vertical gardening, winter gardening and even how to use what you produce. It's just jammed full of great information.

I picked up Crops in Pots at the library and what an interesting book. It shows you how to plant combinations that are attractive as well as useful.

The Balcony Gardener is a fun, unpretentious little site with some good information.

Here's an interesting looking little book for those of you gardening further north: Northern Balcony Gardening. Unfortunately there isn't a great deal of information on it. Possibly it's available in your local library.

A Cheapskate’s Guide To Urban (Rooftop/Balcony) Gardening Some good ideas, especially for beginners.

This is a subject close to my heart and my eventual goal: Creating a Permaculture Balcony Garden.

Space Saving Tips for Patio & Balcony Gardening"

And another article on space saving tips.

I ran across on video entitled 'Balcony Gardening' but their idea of balcony gardening was a huge stone terrace with huge concrete couches and armchairs with little planting areas in the arms. No exactly mainstream, huh?

So, who else has a great site for container gardening in small spaces?

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Date:2009-08-21 20:23
Subject:Tomato bondage - I need to go back to dom school
Mood: hopeful

I had to break down and pull the 3 largest, fist-sized green tomatoes off of that long branch hanging over thin air. (I've had good luck so far with them ripening outside but in the shade.)Then I realized there was another branch arching out near that long one that was unsupported and arching downward with several large tomatoes.

That white zigzag going up the plant are wide strips of muslin binding that long vine I was unaware of to the longer one that already has support. I hope like hell they make it. the 3rd vine is the one that's bent over a couple of times but not broken and I have it tied into place with mummy strips, too.

I went out this morning and found my other tomato had made an attempt to break free from bondage, too. It was heavy enough that with the stronger winds we've had in the last couple of days it snapped the thin bamboo stake I had it tied to. So I splinted it with 2 more bamboo pieces, bound it all together with more muslin strips and then tethered it to the other stake of the shorter, stouter patio tomato next to it.

For the last 3 years I've always been unprepared for the tomato droopage but I thought I had it covered this year. I just wasn't prepared for my unprecedented crop success this year.

Tomato cages. Definitely tomato cages. o.O

BTW, here's Phouka the Cat in his bird blind in the Anaheim pepper/basil pot.

He doesn't exactly blend in, does he?

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Date:2009-08-17 14:05
Subject:More tales of tomato bondage...and breaking free!
Mood: curious

2-3 weeks ago I posted this pic:

of the tall Black Krim tomato arching out over open space beyond my balcony railing. I hadn't been paying proper attention to the shorter of the 2 main vines and I woke up one morning to see it bent over under the weight of growing green tomatoes. It wasn't broken so I carefully straightened it and secured it as best I could. A couple of mornings ago I woke up to find my bondage efforts had failed and it was slumped back over. It still hasn't broken so I'm not going to tempt fate any more. I just secured it where it's laying along the wide railing as best I could.

Now, the longer vine? This is what it looks like now:

That top tomato (which isn't really because there's one nearly as big but about 6 inches further out that you can't see from this angle) is nearly a yard beyond the railing. I have no idea how I'm going to get them! When my 6'2" brother comes over later this week I might have to rearrange everything so he can get as close as possible on a stool and hold onto him while he plucks them green and I let them ripen on the shelf. I'm afraid otherwise I'm going to wake up one morning and find them 3 floors down on the ground, because a couple of those suckers are the size of sofballs!

My other 2 tomato plants gave me a surprising bumper crop this last week:

That biggest one is softball sized. Along with some of the fresh peppers and herbs, plus a few fresh veggies from the store, I had a wonderful, fresh vegetable soup over the weekend. Delicious!

I'd sure like to know if my unusual success this year is more due to my growing knowledge of gardening, the unseasonable weather, just dumb luck or (more likely) a combination of all of the above.

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Date:2009-08-15 15:59
Subject:Ornamental sweet potato vine

Impomea spp - a.k.a. ornamental sweet potato vine - is absolutely beautiful. I have the 'Blackie' and it makes the hanging basket with my red wave petunias and the dracaena look lush and dramatic.

The site I listed says it doesn't need excessive water after it's established because it stores water in it's large roots. Obviously mine has never 'established' because it's the most extreme water hog I have on my balcony and that includes the 7 1/2 ft tall Black Krim tomato that's loaded with fruit. It's a little water vampire and when denied water for more than a few hours, even on mild days, it begins to wilt and droop pathetically, mooching along until you water it yet again.

The first thing I do in the morning is give my beautiful water suck a big long drink. Depending on the weather, it'll probably need another drink around noon, then again in mid-afternoon and again in the early evening. Hell, I only water everything else twice a day, even in high heat and sun!

Besides the Blackie there's also the Margarita which has brilliant light chartreuse green foliage (so different than the rest of the green foliage. I might give them both a try next year but I'm certainly going to make sure it's either in pots with a water reservoir (maybe a 1 liter bottle planted in the soil), plus a lot more insulation and maybe water retention crystals.

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Date:2009-08-08 11:55
Subject:Bondage! A gardener's tale.

I'm becoming quite the expert in plant bondage. Velcro plant ties, zip strips, bungee cords and now strips of muslin. I swear, next year - tomato cages! I don't care how much trouble I have storing them when they're not in use, I'll find somewhere.

Some have suggested the hinged ones that can lay flat; doing a little cosmetic surgery on them to form them into a triangle. I'll have to look into that, see if it's feasible and how big the end product would be - whether they would fit in the pots. OTOH, the more common conical cages do stack inside one another and only take up maybe 2 ft in diameter of floor space.

They may not look that appealing, but it's better than wondering how my tomato and pepper plants are going to fare when the wind starts whipping up. Plus I won't have to worry so much about upper limbs breaking when they're heavy with fruit or how I'm going to harvest those tomatoes hanging 3 feet out into open space, 3 stories above ground. O: Not that I'm complaining too much mind, I'm just thrilled I'm having so much success with the fruit setting on.

This year I restrained myself on the diversity of my plants. It only looks so bushy and lush because I bought a big box of petunias and other flowers on a whim whem they went down to half price. But I still wound up with 3 different tomato plants, 2 Anaheim peppers and 2 basil.

Next year, only 2 tomatoes, and one basil (I'm going to try to grow basil inside this winter so I won't be so starved for pesto come summer time). I'm going to try zucchini and/or a cucumber. Round ones! Ronde de nice or Eightball zucchini and Lemon (round yellow not flavored) cukes! I love growing unusual things. A couple of years ago it was Tri-color peppers - variegated purple, cream and green foliage with small, hot purple peppers that turn red when ripe. Beautiful!

And BTW? If you all don't know about Container Seeds do take a look through. They don't have a huge variety but they've been picked because they grow especially well in containers. They even have quite a few items like this Red Robin Tomato that stay small and are bred for their ability to set fruit in lower light conditions. I'm going to try these indoors this winter, too.

And for those of you who want more variety to choose from than the same old varieties supplied by your local greenhouse but can't afford to spend $2-3 for a packet of seeds that you'll only use 2-3 out of? Try Le Jardin du Gourmet. They offer sample packets of usually 3-10 seeds (depends on the vegetable, herbs, etc) for only 35 cents apiece. Great deal! You can try all sorts of things you never could have before because they were just too expensive. I got all kinds of different greens (mache, arugula, red and green shizo, different spinach types, etc.) plus herbs and a few vegetables.

I love sample packets!

Now, with this hot weather (summer has finally descended) I need to water my garden 2-3 times a day. It's a demanding mistress. But worth it.

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Date:2009-08-06 10:09
Subject:Lush petunias!

Someone nicely complimented me on my petunias, bemoaning the fact that hers were always scraggly. Well, until this year, mine were, too. I'm not that experienced at growing flowers.

Last year I bought a beautiful, established hanging basket of petunias. About half-way through the summer I realized that the tops of the vines were filled with nothing but dead leaves and the bottom was all scraggly. It pretty damn ugly. So in desperation I just cut everything off to a couple of inches, expecting it to die. To my surprise I soon had a beautiful, lush, blossom-laden plant.

This year when my petunias were being hit by budworms I realized they were getting spindly, too. Too many scraggly vines, fewer and fewer blooms. I knew there had to be a less drastic way of pruning than just snipping off the whole vine so I went scrounging online and came up with a little video. In just a second I'll post it so that others can see it to. Next year I'll start doing this even earlier for a much bushier plant.

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Date:2009-08-05 18:24
Subject:Spreading my joy!
Mood: happy

I know the weird weather has been giving a lot of the US fits this year, but I can't help but be personally grateful. Not only has the cooler weather made it more bearable for me physically (and for my electric bill), but I think it's one of the reasons my garden has been doing so well.

I'm really blessed that this is the site I see when I sit on my couch and look out:

lotsa picsCollapse )

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Date:2009-08-04 13:20
Subject:An alternative for blossom end rot
Mood: hopeful

Well, looks like the one application of lime to my tomatoes back toward the beginning of June wasn't sufficient. I'm getting some small green tomatoes with the dreaded blossom end rot. I still have tons of healthy tomatoes, though.

So I was snooping around on line, trying to find out how often lime/calcium should be applied (I did make another application about a week ago) and found other options since lime will definitely change the pH of your soil to perhaps too alkaline.

This is a good all-purpose info page for tomatoes that recommends gypsum (which apparently won't change your soil pH) as an amendment.

This site recommends lime as only a quick, temporary fix and recommends dolomite or gypsum as a more permanent solution to soil imbalance problems.

I suppose the smart thing would be to get a soil test kit and test the pH of my potting soil, but I don't have the spare money right now. If you're using a potting mix straight out of the bag it should list the pH on the sack. I do add a lot of peat to my soil for water retention and to make it lighter and peat is very acidic. I see gypsum and/or dolomite in my future gardening endeavors.

Ah, the trials and tribulations of tending the soil! You plant, you grow, you learn.

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Date:2009-08-04 11:41
Subject:Eggshells in the garden
Mood: lazy

I came across this article today and thought I'd share.

Even pulverized to a fine powder I think eggshells would take longer to dissolve to calcium than I would want if I were already experiencing blossom end rot. I've seen the suggestion of Tums made in a couple of places. They're meant to dissolve quickly and they'd be an inexpensive alternative to someone with only 1-2 plants. But the ground up shells would make great soil amendments and I also found another 3 uses for the humble eggshell. Be sure and read the original comment to the article (that'll be the one at the bottom) for the 3rd great tip!

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Date:2009-08-03 10:46
Subject:Help your potted plants beat the heat

The north American Pacific Northwest has been experiencing some unusually high temperatures the last week or so and all of us in the northern hemisphere are coming into the dog days of summer. It's important to keep container plants from overheating and sometimes protect them from the sun. I came across this article on lots of tips for doing just that and I thought I'd share.

BTW? Container Gardening is a really nice news letter to subscribe to. Lots of concise, pertinent information in occasional newsletters. There are tons of other 'back issue newsletters' to browse through, too. What's even better is they don't spam you!

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