Garden Update #6

I seriously may have spoke too soon about spring weather. It might be sunny and in the sixties today, but tomorrow is supposed to bring the onslaught of another four to six inches of snow! We'll just have to see how it goes, but for your current entertainment, here's some photos from around the garden:

I'll get around to explaining the garden more in depth later in the week, but for now, I've got some snow to prepare for!

Dechlorinating Water

Hooked up to city tap water? If you are, you could be holding back your garden's true potential. See, most city water sources are treated with chlorine and/or chloramines. These additives find their way into the water as disinfectants that seek to prevent microbial growth. Sure, this water is safe to drink, but think of the damage it can cause to fragile populations of soil microbes. Of course, it doesn't have to be this way though! In this short guide, learn how to dechlorinate water naturally and instantly for safe garden watering.

Soil Microbe Health - 

You might not be able to see them, but I promise that they're there, just lurking about in your soil. Okay, lurking might make them sound like criminals, but I assure you, they're the real heroes of the garden! Performing various tasks such as nutrient cycling, binding heavy meals and aiding with nutrient uptake, it's clear to see why soil microbe health is directly correlated with your garden's performance.

How to Dechlorinate Water Naturally - 

When chlorinated tap water is fed to garden plants, the chlorine and/or chloramines present will destroy some of the beneficial soil microbes. Some or all of the processes mentioned above may slow due to lost microbe populations. As a direct result, plant growth may loose vigor. Luckily, there's an instant and natural way to dechlorinate water!

Materials Needed - 
  • 1000mg Tablets of Pure Ascorbic Acid (aka Vitamin C)
  • Mortar & Pestle
Process - 
  1. Carefully cut one Vitamin C tablet into quarters. From experimentation with alkaline water (pH 8.0), I've found one quarter tablet to efficiently declorinate five gallons of water without significantly impacting pH. 
  2. With a mortar and pestle, grind the quarter tablet into a fine powder. If it's not a powder, you'll have a hard time dissolving it into the water. 
  3. Add the ground tablet to five gallons of water and mix well. The neutralization of chlorine and chloramines is instant. 
  4. Water plants as normal.
There you have it, a quick and easy way to dechlorinate your water for gardening! Even though ascorbic acid is only slightly acidic, if you're worried about pH, just test it before you feed. Thank you for reading this guide on dechlorinating water naturally. Remember, you're plants aren't truly happy until the soil microbes are! Please leave any questions or comments you have. 

Grow Zucchini in a Container

Growing Zucchini in a container.
Grown in raised beds 2012.
Let's face it, store bought zucchini can be a real downer. It seems like every time I visit the store, I'm sitting there filtering through numerous old and abused specimens just to try and find a couple zucchini decent enough for eating. Luckily, there is a way to escape haggard store bought zucchini, and that's to grow it yourself! No matter how little space you may have, zucchini can be adapted to fit. With summer just around the corner, now's the time to capitalize on your opportunity to grow this prolific squash. In this gardening guide, learn how maintain and grow zucchini in a container!

Patio of Pots Update #5

With nothing but sixty and seventy degree weather on the ten day outlook, I think it's safe to say that spring has arrived! It couldn't have arrived any sooner too, because the recent two plus feet of total snow was beginning to really bum me out. Warmer weather is an indicator of more work though, and that's exactly what this week had in store for me. Have a look at the newest pallet planter and the Patio of Pots finalized garden plans below:
Patio is starting to come together. A stand was built for
the newest of the pallet planters.

Observed Weather - (April 19-25)
  • Average High - 51.6°F
  • Average Low - 27.6°F
Patio of Pots Finalized Garden Plans - 
Of course, there are always slight changes and additions throughout the season, but here's the lineup for this year's garden:

Pallet Planter #1 -  
  • Dimensions: 34" Long x 8" Wide x 7" Deep
  • Spring Planting: Bull's Blood beets and kaleidoscope mix of carrots.
  • Summer/Autumn Planting: Three heads of heirloom cabbage.
Pallet Planter #2 - 
The beets are just now setting their first set of true leaves.
They'll be growing pretty quick now. 
  • Dimensions: 52" Long x 7.5" Wide x 8.5" Deep
  • Spring Planting: French Breakfast radishes.
  • Summer/Autumn Planting: Bush beans. I was planning on Dragon's Tongue heirloom beans, but I may not have enough seed, so the variety may change. 
Pallet Planter #3 - 
  • Dimensions: 27" Long x 11" Wide x 11.5" Deep
  • Spring Planting: Alaskan Early shelling peas. 
  • Summer/Autumn Planting: Mouse melons. (aka Mexican Sour Gherkins)
Terra Cotta #1 - 
The garlic is looking strong and healthy. Some growth
is already over six inches tall. 
  • Size - Three Gallons
  • Spring/Summer Planting: Garlic.
  • Autumn - Depending on when the garlic finishes, I may have enough time to do some spinach or other leafy greens.
Plastic Container #1 - 
  • Size - Four Gallons
  • Spring/Summer Planting - Though a Latham Red raspberry bush currently is growing in the container, it will soon be giving away. The planter will make way for various herbs.
Still to Come - 
  • Zapotec Ribbed Heirloom Tomatoes - These tomato plants are currently growing inside, but will be ready within the next few weeks to be transplanted outdoors. Though it is certain that another container or two will be needed, I've yet to decide whether to build or buy.
  • Various Chili Plants - Since I'm not after collecting seed this year, I've decided to grow several different chili plants this year. Peter peppers, Fatalii chillies, and O'dham Indian Heirloom chillies will all be grown in one container still to be built. The planter will much likely be very close in design to pallet planter #1. 
Planted back at the beginning of April, the
Alaskan Early peas are sprouting like crazy!
Pallet Planter #3. Planted with French
Breakfast radishes on 4/25. 

How to Grow Rosemary in a Container

Rosemary growing indoors. 
Pairing perfectly with a variety of meats and culinary dishes, rosemary is a strong runner on the list for herbs to be grown in containers. With its fresh and unforgettable fragrance, rosemary is bound to please. Fortunately for gardeners, with a bit of patience and tender care, rosemary plants can be happily grown in a pot perched on the patio. Sure, this herb might require a bit more care than others, but the culinary value of fresh rosemary is by far worth the trouble. In this guide, learn the basics of how to grow rosemary in a container, as well as a few helpful tips to keep your plants thriving!

Garden Update #4

The peas may have finally broke from their soil home, but the garden just can't break away from the snow!
With yet another two days of adverse weather expected, garden activities have halted and the planters stored safely indoors. Warmer weather is expected by Wednesday, so tune back!

Planting Basil

Homegrown tomatoes are nothing without the addition of fresh basil. In fact, there are a lot of things that just aren't quite right without this popular garden herb. Luckily, for gardeners and anyone interested, basil is one of the easiest and fastest growing herbs you can plant! Requiring very little space, there's little reason why you shouldn't be starting basil in your garden this year. To set you off on the right foot, this gardening guide will be focused on how to grow basil seed. Planting basil from seed, caring for seedlings, transplanting and even the harvesting of basil can be found just a few scrolls away!

Garden Update #3

Enough of the snow already! Though, there is still a little bit that remains from the last few days, the snow is quickly melting and the greenery is returning. I've had to keep most of the garden indoors until today as the temperatures at night were dipping well below freezing. The beets and carrots have finally been able to go outdoors for the first time since they've sprouted. Of course, they'll be coming back indoors for the evening! Here's a look at the weekly wrap up:

4/16 - Bull's Blood beet seedlings finally getting to bask
in the sunlight they deserve. 
Observed Weather - (April 12-18)
  • Average High - 45.5°F
  • Average Low - 21.1°F
Currently Growing - 
  • Garlic 
  • Bull's Blood Beets 
  • Carrots  
  • Alaskan Early Shelling Peas 
  • Latham Red Raspberries 
  • Zapotec Ribbed Heirloom Tomatoes 
  • San Marzano Heirloom Tomatoes 
  • Fatalii Chili Peppers 
  • Peter Peppers 
  • O'dham Indian Heirloom Chili Peppers
  • Rosemary 
Planted - 
Snow is melting and warmer temperatures are on the
  • Sweet Basil
  • Mouse Melons
Planned Weekend Planting - 
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Lettuce
  • French Breakfast Radishes
Starting to finally get fairly busy around here. Please tune back in next week to see the weekend progress!

Left - Garlic. Really starting to come through now. 
Right - Ended up being a terrible photo, but the carrots have sprouted.

April Timeline - 
Just for fun, I've included a photo timeline of the past couple weeks.

Right - April 7th
Top Left - April 9th    Bottom Left - April 15th
Bottom - April 19th

Grow Carrots From Seeds

When most people imagine carrots, it's not at all uncommon for rabbits and wide open fields to quickly follow suite in the thought process. Though they're often thought of, let's take the rabbits and the wide open fields out of the picture. Now, are there any carrots still left growing? It might sound like some sort of twisted riddle, but the answer is yes, there still are carrots growing a plenty. Of course, the carrots I'm talking of aren't at all planted in the ground, but rather in containers perched two stories above the topsoil! That's right, you can grow carrots in pots! Just because container grown carrots don't register with the brain, doesn't mean it can't be done. In this article, learn how to grow carrots from seeds in containers!

Garden Update #2

This is the snowy scenery gracing the
Patio of Pots Garden 4/16/13. 
As it turns out, snow seems to be the norm this April. There have been times where spring has shown through, but I'd say that the groundhog was way off this year. With close to a half a foot of snow less than a week ago, and now a foot of fresh powder, it's really been a slow start for the Patio of Pots garden. Though most everything remains indoors, there's still quite a bit going on among the all the wintry madness. Here's a look at what's growing:
  • Garlic - Planted in a bunch of my planters this year. The earliest of my garlic was planted at the end of March, and as you can see below, has started to grow in quite nicely despite some frosty nights. 
  • Latham Raspberries - Yes, at the beginning of each season I get the itch and just have to buy something with leaves on it. This year it was a Latham Red Raspberry bush. Though not typically seen as a container raspberry variety, I'm going to experiment growing in a four gallon pot to see how well this two year old cane can produce. Don't worry, I'll be covering more on this bush soon!
  • Bull's Blood Beets - The seedlings are just starting to break ground. Indoors for now, they will be ready to set outside hopefully by the end of the week. 
  • Carrots - Planted with the beets, the carrots will be set outdoors very soon. 
  • Alaska Early Shelling Peas - If I would have known that these seeds would have to endure the cold and snow that they have, I would have held off planting until late April. Instead they were planted on the third and have yet to sprout. Curious to see how they were doing, I gently dug down to find a bright green pea with a small root. When the weather finally warms, I will be curious as to how many of the twenty three planted peas will germinate. 
  • On Deck - Zapotec Ribbed Heirloom Tomatoes, Fatalii Chili Peppers, O'dham Indian Heirloom Chili Peppers, and Peter Peppers are all currently sprouted and around two weeks old.  

 Left - Garlic sprouts, with some nearing a couple inches tall.

Below - Latham Red Raspberry bush. Growing nicely.

Right - Bull's Blood Beet seedlings. Just starting to break the surface.

How to Plant a Tomato Seed

Every season as summer draws near, thousands flood into nurseries and garden centers all across the states in search of tomato plants. The majority will be completely happy filling their gardens with store bought plants. For those who aren't , I dare to ask, "why aren't you satisfied?" Is it the lack of variety? How about stunted or spindly plants that may have been planted too early? Whatever the reason may be, turning to seed is a great way to solve your store bought woes. To keep you on the right track, this article will discuss everything you need to know about how to plant a tomato seed. When to plant, how to plant, and even tomato seedling care, you'll find it all right here!

Pallet Planters - A Reclaiming Project

Container gardeners have a seemingly endless variety of planters to utilize, yet it is plastic that more often or not finds its way into the garden. In the gardener's eyes, these planters seem to be the most inexpensive option for setting up their growing space. Sure, plastic planters are relatively cheap, but it's this type of thinking that leads us to purchase into unsustainable products. While even the Patio of Pots garden hasn't escaped the lure of cheap plastic, a renewed sense of sustainability was put into place for the 2013 season; pallet planters! By utilizing wood pallets bound for the landfill, container expenses were reduced to less than that of buying plastic planters, and also gave the satisfaction of reducing the garden's environmental impact. In this article, learn why pallets are a viable planter option, how to find the right pallets, and to see examples of reclaimed pallet planters.

Garden Update #1

What better way to kick off the 2013 season than with a little snow, right? Well, it's not exactly ideal, but it's the reality the Patio of Pots garden is faced with today. Let's just say that this definitely doesn't help relieve spring fever...

So, the weather outside is frightful, but don't let that fool you! I've been plenty hard at work preparing and planting for the upcoming season. Here's a sneak preview into the species of plants likely to be found in the garden this year:

  • Alaskan Early Shelling Peas    
  • Garlic                                  
  • Bull's Blood Beets
  • Carrots (Kaleidoscope Mix)
  • Dragon's Tongue Bush Beans
  • Zapotec Heirloom Tomato
  • Fatalii Chili Peppers
  • Mouse Melon
. . . and much more ! ! !

Patio of Pots - The Second Coming

While last season had its successes, it turned out to be more or less a total flop. For me, the reason was sunlight. Or for better words, the lack of sunlight! See, as it turns out, our west-facing patio ended up being greatly hindered due to building structure and a large pine tree directly out front. With filtered sunlight consuming the majority of available rays, vegetable crops simply could not sustain themselves. Plant growth began to sputter and so did my blog entries. But, as time progressed, so did the scenery. Now, securely nested on a south-facing porch, the Patio of Pots garden is ready to swing into full gear. Please join me as we ditch last season's shortcomings and focus on a new and bountiful crop for 2013!