Friday, May 20, 2011

Types of Gardening Beds and Containers for all types of Gardeners!

What ever you decide to grow is fine by me.  I am just thrilled when I hear someone say I grew that...or taste this, its from my garden.  There is a sense of pride that comes from seeing something from seed to something!  You grew that thing that someone else recognizes.  Its a thrill that you feel accomplished and also empowered.  If the whole thing goes up in flames, we'll still be able to provide for ourselves.   

Everyone lives in different circumstances, making it amazing to tour other peoples gardening solutions.  Perhaps you have an urban garden and have to re-establish the soil from clay to actual soil again.  Maybe you have drainage issues making your garden really moist.  Perhaps you live in a dry, windy area.  All of these thing are to be considered if you are just starting out a garden plot of sorts. 

Don't be discouraged.  It isn't all that difficult.  Trial and Error is the method we swear by.  That often means we have a weak year for some things.  Usually we learn lots about what we're going to do NEXT season....before this season is actually through. 

A response on my facebook page for my blog prompted me to talk a bit about what you can garden in...meaning containers and different structures you might find in your garden.  We have the best of a few worlds.  We have a flat garden patch, a long running patch, an old claw foot tub, a boxed in area, and loads of containers.

A variety of sized potters - all reclaimed from various sources


Let's talk about easy gardening...virtually no weeds, and the plants are managable in size.  Easy right?  The only challenge you may encounter here is keeping these containers water enough.  They tend to dry out very quickly, especially if the container itself is a dark colour.  Another issue is loss of soil.  If you don't pick the right container, the soil may just wash out of the bottom.  Make sure you have containers with a reservoir section on the bottom, or a separate piece that catches most of the water. (see the blue container?  it has a reservoir)  This kind of gardening is great for apartments or townhomes without much of a yard.  Its also great if you want to grow things that tend to get out of control in flat deep soil, like cherry tomatoes.  We grew herbs in ours last year with a great deal of success.  Plus I hear that container gardens are "all the rage" these days.  You can use random pots, matching pots or an assortment of collected old boots!

Our HUGE potters - a White Rose closing sale steal!

These beauties are almost 2 feet across!  They do take a large amount of soil to fill, but are fantastic for us when we grow cherry tomatoes.  Like I mentioned above, we grow cherry tomatoes in them, because our experience has shown that when we plant cherry tomatoes in our flat garden bed...they take over!  They are so invasive that often they lay right down on other veggies and stiffle their growth due to lack of sun.  These pots are the perfect size to still get millions of cherry tomatoes while also keeping our other veggies safe from smothering.  Just make sure you have them where you want them BEFORE you fill them.  Gravel in the bottom is a must for drainage, as you don't want your tomaters to suffer from root rot.

small constructed areas shown above are easy to make and look organized


We discovered an under utilized area in a corner of our we got crafty!  We found some wood 2 x 4's and manufactured (or jimmy-rigged) this planter box.  Its literally dollars from the hardware store, even if you do have to purchase the wood too.  (take care not to buy pressure treated wood)  A couple of L brackets and a couple of screws each make for a wee box for our rhubarb.  As we don't till that area, we don't have to worry about moving the box or anything.  Each year we do shovel in some fresh compost or manure just to keep the plants from getting stagnant with old soil.

our claw foot tub salvaged from a dump

You can use just about anything for a garden, as long as you add some sort of drainage.  We love salvaged items, like this old clawfoot tub from a dump.  We hauled it home and decided where we wanted it to go (like the extra large potters, you need to decide BEFORE you fill).  This thing was heavy even before we lined the bottom with rocks and added fresh top soil and manure mix.  Last year we grew the alliums in there, green onions and leeks.  Neither did very well...probably because we didn't 'lighten' the soil with peat moss.  This year, I've shovelled out a bunch of soil and will be adding fresh manure and peat mixture.  (Owen and I also scraped and re-painted it too!  It looks GREAT!)  An added feature with tremclad paint is that the boys can paint on it with water based paint and it will wipe right off.  Garden art!  I've seen old boots, sawed-off barrels, wash tubs....I've even seen a garden patch that was lined with an old wrought iron bed frame!  Use your imagination.  Visit a nearby dump.  Check out Value Village.  You'll never know what you'll find.  Just make sure what you use as a planter won't deteriorate when water or the elements hit it or that it won't leach toxins into the soil. (ie. lead based painted anything, pressure treated anything)  Also, make sure you wash it thoroughly before adding never know what's been in there before it got to your garden! 

Rocks reclaimed from our neighbour adds a rustic flare

In our flat garden area, we find that its difficult for the kids to know where the yard ends and the garden begins.  So create structures that will look cool as well as inform...DON'T WALK THERE.  We salvaged a lot of rock from our yard as well as our nearby neighbours.  We created a mini rock wall....its only about 1-1.5 ft tall.  It may not look like much now, but it looked so great last year with the squash vines and blossums pouring over it like a living waterfall.  You can use bricks, cinder blocks, stones, wood...just about anything.  Creating a wall makes your garden feel more contained and also looks great too.  Again, be sure to steer clear of pressure treated wood or railway ties, etc.  They are all coated, sprayed or treated with stuff you don't want anywhere near your food. 

Image found at - raised garden bed


Raised beds are great if your yard is small or if you have trouble bending or stouping over for long periods of time.  There are lots of benefits and a few drawbacks to raised bed gardening.  The up side is that you'll have a very neat and tidy area for growing.  The walls will retain heat from the day time and you may find your veggies will grow faster because of it.  Depending on how tall you build your bed, will determine how much you have to bend over.  The taller the bed, the more you'll have to think about what to line it with...again thinking of drainage.  Also, it would cost you a fortune in top soil to fill it completely!  The draw back to a raised bed would be that because you have a warm toasty bed, you'll have to be on the look out oftern for fear your veggies will bolt (or send up seedy stalks) sooner than your flat bed counter parts. 

Our flat bed will look better when its got good things growing in it...just just trucks...


Ah the traditional garden.  Flat.  Your back may not thank you, but the amount of food you can cram into it will blow your mind!  So far, its my favorite type of garden bed, but the weeding remains the biggest obstacle.  I'll elaborate more on the flat bed when we get our going.  I'll dedicate a whole post to the flat bed....keep your eyes peeled!

What type of garden do you plan on having this season? 

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