Winter Garden Preps

Yes, it truly is winter.  You couldn’t tell it by Sunday’s weather in my area, but it truly is winter!  I don’t think those crocuses above would agree.

It was a perfect day to mix up the potting soil and get the seed growing area prepped and ready for all those precious little containers of new soil and seedlings.

I was able to obtain a couple of free, but scruffy, storage cabinets that I commandeered for my side of the garage.  I just knew these items would be perfect for containing my gardening miscellany.

scrappy old cabinet with porcelain coated metal top

rough shelf unit with doors

These cabinets are nothing to look at, but once Hubby secured the backing and side panels on that first unit, they were both perfect for garage use.

It didn’t take me long to transfer my tools, and gloves, and potting recyclables, and garden project parts to fill every available space.

drawers filled to the brim

great space for bulky screen and cloth and plastics

tools and containers and project parts

It was easy to assemble the tools necessary for the day’s tasks.  Everything was easy to find and contained within a fairly small space.  How nice that was!

I was able to mix soil, and prep our sunporch to grow all the seedlings I have planned.

First I assembled the sterile soil components and necessary tools.

soil container, vermiculite, peat moss and compost mix

This is the sterile soil mix recipe I used:

  • 2 parts peat moss
  • 1 part vermiculite
  • 1 part compost/sand/perlite mix

scissors and utility razor, coffee can soil scoop, soil breaker and mixing shovel

The tools made the job easy.  That peat moss was tightly compacted, so the plastic trowel was perfect for breaking it up for scooping.

two parts peat moss

one part each vermiculite and compost mix

second layer of soil mix

I knew I would use a lot of soil mix for the self watering container, so I made a double batch – repeat recipe and stir heartily.  :)

Once the soil mix was ready, I was motivated to get that sunporch ready for use.  It was a nice day to work on the porch, and I was quite pleased with the results.

empty rack awaiting new seedlings

self watering container and extra seedling prep area

Now, to get those seeds out.  :)

Til’ later!

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