Forty Reasons to Change the Garden Plan

Does anyone else go through the angst of which vegetable should go where?

I get caught up in the process of plotting out vegetables that are good neighbors.

Don’t put tomatoes too close to cucumbers, and keep them away from corn.

Cucumbers and tomatoes don’t play well with potatoes, so give them separate space.

If I hadn’t been craving garden fresh tomatoes for two years, I’d consider them bad neighbors and leave them out of the garden entirely.  That’s not happening!

I plotted and planned to make certain everything would have its optimal space.  You know how that saying goes?  Something about “best laid plans”, or “life is what happens when you’re making other plans”?

purple fingerling potato


Potatoes showed up and changed the plans.

I wasn’t even going to plant potatoes this year.  The rear garden, Garden Two, has such a horrific soil issue that I decided to put it to rest this year while I work on building good soil.

garden put to rest

Potatoes would take too much of the remaining garden space, so I figured we would do without them.  Conveniently, one of my primary nearby grocery stores began stocking organic potatoes and that sealed the deal.

Until potatoes showed up.

Forty potato plants.

Forty reasons to change the garden plan.

Just popped right up in Garden One like they owned the place!

Who invited them?  Sheesh!

Yes, yes, I know.

I did this to myself.

It seems I missed a lot of potatoes when I harvested last year.  That must mean that I need a new potato fork, wouldn’t you say?   ;)

So, back to the drawing board I went.  Those beloved tomato plants had lost their space, so new plans were in order.

tomatoes ready to plant

I pulled out three of the metal containers and filled them with sterile soil mix, then placed ollas into them.  They will sit on the patio, which gets almost 8 hours of morning and midday sun, but gets shade from the sweltering late afternoon sun.

metal planters ready for tomatoes

Hopefully, the ollas will help compensate for the heat of the metal containers.  Tomatoes and marigolds and basil will grow in the containers, so I’ve fashioned limb “cages” to see if they’ll support the tomatoes.

metal tub with ollas

This year I’ll also prune the contained tomatoes, to keep the plants at a manageable height.  They can easily reach 6 ft if left untended.  Since I have eight tomato plants, I’m going to risk late blight and plant the remaining five with those surprise potatoes.  We’ll see how that goes.

basil in tub

The cucumbers also have to move, since I’ve been dreaming of fresh cucumber salads.  I staked the tool handle teepee trellis into the water trough planter and will place the cucumbers there.  I’ll lash small limbs across the trellis to provide supports for the vines.

handle teepee trellis

Since the space is now available, I might plant corn.  I have two heirloom varieties, one of which was a host to corn smut two years ago.  I planted the second variety in the rear garden space last year, and it did fairly well considering the horrible growing conditions, but it’s not as sweet a corn as the first.  Perhaps we’ll see if it grows better in the front garden.

Is your garden working according to plans?


Finally Friday!

Some weeks are longer than others!

Some days are longer than others!

Yeah for Friday.  Time to wind down and prepare for Shabbat.

I’ve been consumed with thoughts of gardening and hopes of spending time on Sunday mixing soil and starting seed containers.

I’m confounded though.

This winter, if we could truly call it winter, has been unseasonably warm for zone 4-5.  I’m not certain that it will be easy to follow standard planting time frames this year.

Too early daffodils in zone 4-5

This daffodil picture explains my concern.  We’re only halfway through February, and there is a flower prepared to bloom!

I’ll fess up – I’m certainly no pro at gardening.  I’m barely out of the novice stage.  What do I know?

Instinct has held up against almanacs in the past, so I’m paying close attention to my concerns.

On a lighter note, I snapped a picture of my planned metal container garden.  I can just imagine it bursting with summer fare.  :)

metal garden scape

The practical side of me set the containers to allow the drainage (each container has holes) to flow to the next container.

I haven’t decided what to plant in that old rusty wheelbarrow.  Whatever it is, it must have shallow roots.  I’m open to ideas (hint, hint).

Oh, and “shush”.  Hubby hasn’t seen this, so don’t tell him.  OK?

Happy Friday!

Dreamin’ Girl

Container Garden Plan

This year I’m going to grow most of my early starts in containers. I like to try new things each year and keep what works as a gardening standard

I’ve had very little practice with container gardening, mostly casually grown flowers and herbs, so this project will have a learning curve. I thought you might like to follow along.

Before we start, I have to share my bargain purchase from last month:  heirloom seed packets from Menards for .09 per packet. I bought 55 of them! They’re mostly flowers, because I’m such a food/seed snob.  I have a terrific resource for heirloom vegetable seed.

Ah, the bees and butterflies will be ever so happy!  :)

Getting Started

The plan.  Seedlings are going to be handled a bit differently this year, I am planning to start the early crops directly in their assigned containers.  Why stress them out by moving them, right?

I think I’ll also do mixed container tests: early short season, mixed with later long season crops, and a few flower seeds tossed in for attracting the beneficial insects we began luring last year.  Here’s a quick guide to a growing calendar for zones 4 and 5.

I used this approach to gardening in the ground last year with mixed success. The best benefit was the overall space savings.

What I learned last year is that timing, sun, and water needs have to be considered for this to work well.

Here are a few of my containers:

Isn’t that exciting?!  I know, I know, I’m such a sap over rusty old things.

The containers on the ground were salvaged items, so I just couldn’t beat the price.

The washstand was an auction purchase – I’ve removed the rollers for the project.

I’ve placed them next to the stationed water trough planter so that they’ll receive full sun.  An added benefit is that this creates a nice border for the west edge of this garden plot.

The metal containers will be used for the late season crops: summer squash, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and peppers, since the containers are pretty sturdy and can handle trellises.  I’ll also use these containers to do succession planting of the early crops that will have a second season.

I’ll intersperse lettuce seed and onion sets with the strawberries in the water trough, adding spinach and dill later in the season.

I have other plastic/resin containers that will be reused for the cole crops and started in my front porch “greenhouse”.  The current soil will be dumped onto the garden areas and covered with leaves.  (It will be interesting to see how the walking onions and wild violets in the containers react.)

The leaky 5 gallon buckets will be used for the carrot test, mixed with cilantro and a beneficial flower for fun.  One leaky bucket will be saved for the washstand, to grow the sweet potatoes and beneficial flowers.

I’ll duct tape the worst bucket, leaving some exposed crack for water drainage.

The remaining container will grow onions, lettuce, spinach, beets, cauliflower, broccoli and radishes.  It will be a self-watering container.  I’ll show you that project later.

The soil I’ll use will be sterile soil and I’ll use the sterile potting soil mix that the seeds will start in for the duration of their growing period.

This is the mix I’m using this year (I play with all recipes, it’s just one of those things about me):

Here is my planned soil mix recipe:

  • Peat moss  – 2 parts
  • Vermiculite  –  1 part
  • Perlite and Compost mix  –  2 parts
PS – that limestone will go on the garden in the fall.

There you have it!  The “practical” container garden plan:  affordable.  Now to start the main garden plots plan.

Have you started your garden plans?  I’m late to get started on my seedlings!


Dreamin’ Girl