2018 Container Gardening–Week Three

Here’s what is going on in my garden this week– this week I transplanted everything that I had in containers and smaller pots to their final pot destination. I also used Purple Cows BioActive All-Purpose Fertilizer on all my veggies, fruits and flowers. My total garden this year consists of 2 patio tomato plants bought approx. 6 weeks ago at 6″-that are now 12″ plants. I bought my tomato plants from Bauer’s Market Place in LaCrescent Mn which is about 90 minutes from home because they are the only tomato plants that can survive how extremely hot our deck is winter, spring, summer, and fall (north face). They’re hardy plants for sure– I brought them home as 6″ plants and after a couple of days replanted them in smaller pots filled with Purple Cow Soil. Now today, 6 weeks later, and double in size they were ready to be transplanted into larger pots of Purple  Cow Soil.

I also have two heirloom pear tomato plants, one pepper plant, one large bunch of lavender, a lavender topiary, a prairie grass plant, two red geraniums, a small fuchsia, a small new guinea impatiens, a small rosemary plant, a lime coleus, and my big planter full of hens and chicks. Also, my lovely rehabbed evergreen tree, which took me three years of TLC, but finally he is back and all green and healthy again! The first year both of these trees were fine on our deck. The second winter they both turned brown. I read somewhere that what was wrong with them was winter burn–sunscald. That second spring I shook all needles off both of them, but by fall only one looked close to being alive. So that winter I covered it up halfway with a blanket, mulched it, and of course continued to frequently water it. That next spring the soil it was in seemed to be rotten, so I replanted it in Purple Cow Soil (my first year using it), I fertilized it, and this past winter wrapped just the root area of the pot. I watered it every 3 weeks or so, and once warmer weather began, I started misting it. Voila!

My sugar snaps for the third year were a fail, and my nasturtiums don’t seem to want to flower. No clue what is up with that? Something new I am trying this year with my tomatoes is a ground cover around the bottom of the stems and on top of the soil. I am hoping to keep my plant foliage dry and warm up the soil a bit. Warm soil=lots of ripe & juicy tomatoes. This year I am focusing solely on growing great tomatoes. Hence why I have so few containers of plants growing on my deck this year.  The sun can get to be 108-110 degrees on our deck during summer, and the wind 20-25mph or more if tornado-like weather comes through. For me to container garden at our current place I have to start with good hardy plants and last year learned–top of the line good soil.

This is my tenth year gardening at this apartment. My goal has always been to learn how to grow my own food. Along with that, I have learned that gardening is good therapy for me. I know that sounds like a cliche, but it is so very true. I think the therapy for me, and probably for others comes from the process of gardening. I used to think people meant planting, weeding, and watering was therapy. When it wasn’t working for me, I wondered what I was doing wrong. It wasn’t until we moved into this apartment and my PTSD was getting hard for me to manage that I decided to give it another go on our deck. From the challenges of growing things in containers to keeping plants watered in front of and after the days’ hot sun, to producing a yield, showing up, and accepting the challenge. Gardening has become very therapeutic for me indeed. Not giving up is also very therapeutic.  I have never let living in an apartment stop me from gardening. Though until last year, when I finally found some good soil, previous years were kind of in vain. I could grow good, but not great plants, and my yields were little to none. Also my flowers would last a month and then stop flowering and basically die. Last years garden was absolutely fabulous–in October I still had geraniums flowering and tomatoes on the vine!

 






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Zucchini Bread

What to do with our overflowing abundance this year (everyone giving us) of Zucchini? Well, Zucchini bread of course! Best ever recipe here . I promise you this one is a keeper-easy, moist, and delicious bread.  Slowly but surely the container garden is dwindling down to one tomato plant that is still producing, and has produced 27 tomatoes. One plant!! I thought both of the bigger plants were producing, but it turns out just the one. How unreal is that? He recently got knocked in half by wind, but still has a whopping 5 tomatoes trying to ripen. All of my New Guinea impatiens are still blooming, along with my hardy and always blooming geraniums. I bought all of my plants this year from Bauer’s Market and Garden Place in La Crescent, MN. The shrubs have quadrupled in size and after growing in soil full of fungus gnats (thanks big box potting soil) my mini sunflower flowers have bloomed. The zinnias planted with them have no buds, so no zinnias this year. All in all I’ve been very fortunate to have the tomatoes I’ve grown, most around here haven’t had such luck. Again, I’m thankful for Purple Cow Organics potting soil, tomato gro, and their bio-active fertilizer. The nights are getting cooler, so eventually we’ll have to clean up our deck. We’ve already transplanted a sick tree we are hoping to save. Almost time to buy our fall mums. Some time back I posted a picture of part of my blue glass/ ball glass collection and someone asked if it is hard to keep clean. Yes, yes it is. Twice a year I have to stand on the counter top and take down all of the glass and antiques and wash them up. Not easy and the last few years I’ve had to do it in stages. Here is half of it taken down, cleaned and polished and put back up. Until next time–be well!

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Hello August!

Can it be that summer is almost over? As of this month I’ve been at my container garden now for almost 8 months. From my failed starter plants I worked on in January and February, to the young plants I nurtured inside March until late April that became my super producers all summer long. My two 8″ tomato plants grew to almost 3 ft and are still producing tomatoes. So far I’ve harvested 12 med., med large tomatoes with about 10 more ready to turn any day. My spindly tomato plant that survived a couple of frosts ended up giving me over 30 cherry tomatoes. Best tomatoes ever! My rosemary has quadrupled in size, as have my shrubs (doubled) and this years New Guinea Impatiens are gorgeous.  Herbs have been dried and preserved and several of my plant containers have been emptied, and cleaned up for next year. In just a few weeks fall will be upon on and I definitely feel like this year’s container garden was my best yet. A lot of work, but a lot of rewards and I’m already looking ahead to next year. P.S. Although my pumpkin plants bit the dust last week thanks to leaf rot and gnats, my sunflowers and zinnias are ready to bloom any day now. Pictures soon! Until next time–be well!





Container garden at five weeks!!

I’ve got a whopping eight tomatoes on my plants already. It was kind of hard to show in pictures, but they are there. Tiny 6″ tomatoes plants are now giants. Two plants are planted in a large pot and each one of them is about 14″ tall and fill the entire planter they are kept in. I had two other tomato plants in separate containers that both received frost– one was thrown and the other I kept and have tried to take extra special care of. All of his frost burned foliage fell off and new has replaced it, but he is awful spindly. He stands approx. 2 ft high in the planter he is in. Because of my mistake planting potatoes in too shallow of a pot, I joined five good plants and then used the extra dirt to mount them in one pot. If the plants were growing straight up they would be a foot tall. My shrubs that I bought for downstairs by my front door are growing instead together in a pot on our deck. Currently, they are almost filling the diameter of the pot they are in. Everything looks great and I still attribute that to the soil I planted all of them in–Purple Cow Organics. Plus this week I gave them all a tsp of Purple Cow Bio-Active all-purpose fertilizer. The package says- Purple Cow BioActive All-Purpose Fertilizer is an organic 4-6-4 granular fertilizer which has been inoculated with Mycorrhizal Fungi. These fungi may improve nutrient and water uptake by plants. Safe for pets and kids too!
If I make container gardening sound easy it is anything but–it requires trial and error, patience and constant tending. Instead of relying upon mother nature some of the time for water, I must water my garden almost daily. For me that means carrying pitchers of water through the house to the deck 6-7 times a week. I also use condensation from our air conditioner that drips into a pail on our deck to water the flowers. This year we had to adjust the weight of items on the deck to not place too much weight on it. Two of our small trees were taken downstairs by our front door to assure the weight of our container garden was safe. We are on the north face of the building so we get hit with a lot of wind and sporadic sun.
Most years everything survives, but often most don’t thrive. I keep at it because it is good therapy and I want us to learn how to grow our own food. I’ll be back tomorrow with grilling tips!












Container Gardening 2017

I planted lettuce plants 10 days apart, all of which were bought at the same time, same place, but I ran out of big box potting soil for the rest of my veggies and six of my lettuce plants.  Every year I use regular potting soil from a big box and I add nutrients/minerals to the soil. Last year I bought really expensive organic fertilizer, that did absolutely nothing for any of the vegetables I was growing. This year via Facebook I noticed the coop I shop at was stocking Purple Cow Organics products**.  We found someone local who carried them and proceeded that very night to plant the rest of the lettuce and veggies.

I re-potted a tomato plant, that had been severely frost burnt, in Purple Cow Organics Tomato Gro. Currently, that tomato plant is thriving, the one I did not replant died in big box potting soil.

Side by side you can see big box vs. Purple Cow Organics– the big box potting soil lettuce plants were given a 10-day headstart and still we’re not even close to a lettuce salad.

The lettuce planted 10 days ago in Purple Cow Organics is ready and waiting to be harvested. This picture was taken 3 days ago for a photo op, today I am planning on harvesting what I can and having a salad. The beauty of all of it is the lettuce will grow back and we will have several salads from these six plants.

Ten days ago this was a container filled with Purple Cow Organic Potting Mix and three seed potatoes–today a potato plant appears! So get out there and get you some and enjoy that first homegrown salad grown all by yourself (with a little help from Purple Cow Organics, of course)! 🙂 Enjoy.

P.S. I have had a few comments as to why I don’t start lettuce via seeds and not plants. The answer to that question is we have north and west windows only. Every seed I have tried to start in this apartment either does not germinate, germinates and molds, or gets leggy and dies before spring planting.

**not compensated in any way by Purple Cow Organics for my awesome experience using their products and then blogging about it.**