Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Gardening Advice?


I'm a little late to the game, but I decided to start a patio garden yesterday. I had hoped to start one earlier in the season, but we took a week-long vacation in June, which would have killed off everything.

I stopped by Lowe's yesterday and picked up two plants (cherry tomatoes and banana peppers), two bags of Sta-Green Flower and Vegetable Garden Soil, two five-gallon buckets, and two tomato cages. The total cost was only $20.


When I returned home, it only took about five minutes to set up my garden. We live in Tennessee, so the lady at Lowe's said my plants should still have time to produce plenty of veggies before the end of the season.

I have never seen deer in our yard, but I'm a little worried about squirrels, raccoons, and stray cats eating my crops. I put a vinegar-soaked rag on each of the beds of dirt. I also made a natural squirrel repellent, for which I found the recipe on Pinterest (1 cup water, 1/4 cup hot sauce, 1/4 cup dish soap, 2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper). I sprinkled that on the dirt.

I'm a newbie at this whole gardening thing, so I would be grateful for any advice!

37 comments:

  1. Anonymous7/06/2016

    The buckets need holes in the bottom to drain water

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    1. Anonymous7/06/2016

      She probably did that alresdy.

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    2. I probably shouldn't admit this, but I didn't think about drilling holes until afterwards. I went ahead and drilled some on the sides at the very bottom, and it seems to be working very well.

      Ellie

      Thanks!

      Ellie

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  2. Anonymous7/06/2016

    I received a strawberry plant from a co-worker. I'm very happy but a little worried because we have an outbreak of caterpillars right now. Like, thousands of them. It's a nightmare! So I hope they are not fans of strawberries, and they stay away from it! But there are no leaves in my trees anymore so they might decide to eat it anyway...

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    1. The cashier at Lowe's told me that she grew strawberries in a gutter and that it worked great. Apparently it's a Pinterest thing. LOL. Hope you strawberries turn out well! :)

      Ellie

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  3. Anonymous7/06/2016

    Yeah! Glad you started a garden. We had delicious tomatoes from our garden yesterday that taste so so much better than the stores.

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    1. Congratulations on your gardening success! I'm really hoping that my plants produce delicious produce. I went back to the store and bought more, so now I have 3 tomato plants and 2 pepper plants.

      Ellie

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  4. Ashley7/06/2016

    Dear Ellie,
    I'm so glad you're gardening. I've grown both tomatoes and peppers. Right now, we have a huge tomato plant that is spreading out and taking over the whole garden. Sometimes we collect 1/4 cup of cherry tomatoes. :)
    If you can, you should plant both plants in larger buckets, or in the ground, when the roots can't spread out in the bucket they're in anymore. You can just take the paper off, tear some of the brown stuff off and mix it in with the dirt for compost. Also, if you start a compost bucket, that is really good compost for plants.
    As for keeping animals away, we have raccoons and squirrels around our property, but I haven't had any problems with them eating my plants.
    Make sure to water them. :) I don't know if you like herbs or not, but basil is such an easy plant to grow during the summer time. Plus, when it goes to seed, you can collect hundreds of seeds and plant some again. :D

    Love in Christ,
    Ashley

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    1. Thanks for the tips, Ashley! I considered buying herbs, but I'm worried that I won't use them up by the end of the season. Have you ever tried growing herbs inside?

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous7/10/2016

      You have to have really good light for growing indoors. Herbs get weak and leggy otherwise.

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  5. Ashley7/06/2016

    ps. You might want to punch a hole in the bottom of the buckets so water can drain. You could get a piece of a black material used for gardening and put it over the hole so the soil doesn't drip out. (I don't remember the name of the material, but it has small holes, almost like a strainer, and it almost feels like strainer material.) Hope that helps you. :)

    Love in Christ,
    Ashley

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    1. Thanks! That's very helpful. :)

      Ellie

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  6. Get chicken wire and make little fences, perhaps?

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    1. Anonymous7/06/2016

      With one tomato plant, it wouldn't be worth it. Pick the 'maters before any critters get to them. Nothing should bother the pepper plants except maybe slugs. You can elevate the bucket off the ground a bit so there's a gap where slugs couldn't crawl up. That, or put shallow dishes or lids of cheap beer out at night. They'll go to that instead, party, and never live to tell their sluggy little friends about it....

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  7. Anonymous7/06/2016

    I'm in British Columbia, but usually you have to start your tomato plants around the May long weekend... it might be too late for them if they don't already have tomatoes on them. They look a little shrivelled

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    1. Ya, they do look shriveled...I went back to the store and bought a couple more that look much better. Planting them earlier would have been ideal, but we have a pretty long summer here, so I'm hoping to get a decent harvest, but definitely not as good as I would have gotten if I had planted them sooner. :)

      Have a great weekend!
      Ellie

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  8. Anonymous7/06/2016

    Herbs are super easy to grow in the summer, and require little maintenance. It's great to use the fresh stuff instead of dried herbs. I'm growing basil, parsley, peppermint, and oregano! Basil goes on my pasta, and I can make peppermint iced tea everyday! Best decision I've made all summer

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    1. Peppermint iced tea sounds tempting! Would you mind sharing your recipe? Do you move your herbs inside at the end of the summer?

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous7/10/2016

      Basil will not winter over outside. First cold snap, and it's gone. It really is best to start fresh each spring with new plants. Their whole goal is to make flowers and go to seed in the summer, and they can do this in a shot. So it's hard to keep basil at just the right stage for picking.

      Parsley, I've been able to winter over outside. Sometimes it reseeds itself, but sometimes it comes back from the roots. However, parsley is a biannual, meaning that the second year, it will quickly go to flower & seed & not produce a lot of edible leaves. I keep a double set of parsley pots going, this year's and last year's. At the end of the summer, last year's gets ditched and this year's becomes last year's in the next spring. Parsley 2-year rotation plan. Oldest out; newest in.

      Peppermint is an outdoor plant & will eventually take over the garden if you don't contain its roots somehow. I grow it in a raised bed, but it still tries to send shoots sideways, creeping outside the bed if it gets a chance underground.

      Oregano will winter over outside OK. (I'm talking middle of the country southern zone that's not high in altitude, like where Ellie is.) I usually buy one new plant to refresh the clump in the garden each spring. You can whack it back when it starts to green up in the spring, and it'll fill out.

      Try growing rosemary. It likes a hot & not too wet part of the garden. My little plants have grown into bushes and I have to give away the armloads of clippings I have each spring. A little rosemary goes a long way. It's great with pan-browned potatoes, or with chicken.

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    3. Wow, what great advice! Thank you! :)

      Ellie

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  9. Anonymous7/06/2016

    Nice little story. Is this a first ever experience gardening?

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    1. Thanks! Yep, it's my first time gardening.

      Ellie

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  10. Anonymous7/07/2016

    Dear Ellie, what a nice post to share. Gardening can be a lovely relaxing hobby and growing even a mini-amount of your own food is very rewarding.
    I've been container-gardening for about 4 years now and also got an allottment garden last here. I haven't grown peppers yet but a lot of tomatoe and am happy to share my experience with them.
    (I am growing in northern-Germany, to climate-wise things might be very different to where you are)

    From what I've learned and experienced tomatoes are not difficult to grow once the they have what they love. Basically, they love a lot of everything: a lot of space, a lot of water, a lot of heat and a lot of nutrients, all of which works together to keep the plant as healthy as possible, resistant to pests and producing well.

    To begin with I would find the sunniest/warmest spot available.
    They love warmth more than light, so even a warm indoor place is an option.

    For growing space a 10gallon container will be more adequate over the course of a season. When very warm it allows you to give the plant more water than in a 5 gallon pot, so water lasts longer, helping the plant be healthy. In very hot weeks I watered mornings and evenings, when the leaves sag you will know the water supply low, ideally watering should occur before that happens. A container with a water reservoir is even more helpful in busy times. It might also help to use mulch or compost to cover the soil to keep it from drying out.
    The tomatoe plant leaves are also very sensitive to water/rain and get damaged or disease, so ideally the growing space should be protected from rain and watering should be on the soil directly or in the water reservoir

    For nutrients I use a liquid organic all-purpose vegetable or tomatoe fertilize about once a week or according to instructions that can be mixed into their water.

    For pest control I often co-plant nasturtium in a pot next to them. They attract aphids that would otherwise affect tomatoes if the climate is very humid. Also nasturtium have edible leaves and flowers and is a medicinal plant, so has a lot of additional use other than protecting tomatoes.

    It may seem like a lot of details but it really isn't once you've found the balance of what works for you, your space and your type of plants.

    Happy growing and please keep us updated on your successes.

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    1. Anonymous7/08/2016

      I've never had aphids bother tomatoes. Lettuce, they love, but tomato leaves, no.

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    2. Thank you for all those great tips! We don't have an area that is protected from rain, so I should probably start covering my plants before thunderstorms...

      Ellie

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    3. Anonymous7/12/2016

      Don't cover your plants in a thunderstorm - it is perfect water for them and they will love it! Only worry if there is hail. Tomatoes often get disease that splashes UP from the soil to the underside of the leaves. You can avoid this problem by mulching the top of the soil and keeping the bottom leaves well above the soil. When the plant is tall enough, start trimming the bottom leaves off. The top leaves of the plant are the ones that blossom & produce fruit. The bottom of a tomato plant can be diseased yet the new growth at the top will still be healthy & productive. I think that "no rain" advice might be related to her climate, which is not as hot as yours. Just give your tomatoes air & light & space & let the rain do what it will.

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  11. Coffee and basil. I did tomatoes for the first time last year, I fertlized with coffee grounds and I planted basil right next to the tomatoes (found this on pinterest), worked wonders. I had so much yield, it was amazing. I'm trying it again this year, I got the basil in late but put in the coffee and it is looking like I will have an incredible year again.

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    1. What neat ideas! I've never heard of fertilizing with coffee grounds, but I'm willing to give it a try. Does the coffee attract animals?

      I like the basil idea, too. How close together did you plant the two? My tomatoes are in 5-gallon buckets, so that might not quite work for me.

      Ellie

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    2. The coffee didn't attract animals. You could easily plant the basil near the edge of the bucket. Last year I planted the basil between 2 of the plants that I had which was kind of close to the third. Basil doesn't take up too much room.

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    3. I'm glad to hear that the coffee didn't attract animals. I think I'll try that. I suppose it would be difficult to add basil to my existing pots, but I'll keep that in mind for next year. Thanks, Niki!

      Ellie

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  12. Anonymous7/07/2016

    I grow tomato plants every summer. While some summers I seem to have healthier plants than others, I usually end up with a good crop of tomatoes. A good long growing season helps of course. The plants seem to thrive in a climate of warm days and nights, but need plenty of water. I do not use a chemical spray on them, but do feed them with miracle grow diluted in the watering can. Love the tomatoes. Looking forward to blt's, salsa, salads, fresh juice and just eating them plain. They are also nice to give away and share. I have not tried herbs, but next year perhaps. I have to read up on this a bit. Can you just grow them in any pot? Anyway, I wish you success Ellie with your garden! It's fun to watch them grow. Glad to know your wrists are feeling healthier!

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    1. Thanks for sharing! I would also love some more info on growing herbs in pots, if anyone would like to give some tips. :)

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous7/10/2016

      Just about any herb will grow in a pot, but mint is happier in a bed, where it can spread. And rosemary does better in the garden, too, because it will get huge. But everything else, I grow in pots in potting mix, refreshing the plants each spring as needed.

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    3. Thanks for the tips! :)

      Ellie

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  13. Anonymous7/11/2016

    I have 2 neighbors who grow tomatoes plants and she usually bring so over to me.


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  14. Anonymous7/15/2016

    Everyone's advice is really great, so go with the tips you can! Welcome to this fun phase in your life, Ellie. ;-) I wish we had more plants in our garden this year, but as my husband, 2 boys, and I are temporarily in a different home while ours is being renovated, we had to take a different approach this summer and decided on just tomatoes, a few herbs, and lettuce. It's going well, but we're looking forward to being back at our home and having more! We did horseradish, zucchini, tomatoes, and some herbs last summer, though NY sweet husband had to take over the majority of the work as I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum in my second pregnancy (as was the case with my first pregnancy... I'm just one of those unlucky few, I guess... But it was all worth it!). We'll see what God has in store for us next summer! I have plans for an elaborate vegetable garden someday as my parents have, but if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans, right? ;-) God bless you, Ellie, and enjoy your garden! ~Regina

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    1. Hi Regina,

      I would love to grow lettuce sometime. Is it easy to take care of? I have heard that zucchini plants are pretty hardy.

      I Googled hyperemesis gravidarum and read that it is a severe case of morning sickness. :( But how wonderful of your husband to jump in and keep the garden going. :)

      Ellie

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