I've been a memeber of DG for a couple of years but have never thought much about container gardening until this year. I purchased a hoop house last season and have decided to try some contianer plantings to jump start the season. Sweet potaotes in a large tub was one idea. I have a store bought sweet potato presently half submerged in a quart jar in my kitchen window. Lots of roots and several slips starting to emerge. I plan to use a mix of MG potting soil, well aged cow manure, and about a gallon of vermiculture media (peat moss), worms and all for my potting mix. Figured I would plant the whole sweet potato in this mix. Any thoughts on procedure would be appreciated.
Interesting how little feedback here. I have been discussing this idea elsewhere and have had some success in terms of others at least interested in the idea of growing sweet potatoes in a container as well a some mini-cucumbers. I would assume from so little feedback that vegetables are not a big item in this forum.
I always end up with 4-8 tubers from each of the several decorative sweet potatoes I plant as trailers in some of my many mixed container plantings, so the idea is sound. The soil sounds extremely heavy (water-retentive), so if that's your plan, I would be sure to set the container on the ground & make sure the drain hole is in direct contact with the ground. That's the 'soil' not any peastone or bark ... you might have on the floor of the hoop house. This turns the container into a mini raised bed, hydrologically speaking, and employs the earth as a giant wick, which will help remove the excess water I fear you will find your soil too eager to hold on to.
Al, good way of looking at it...'mini-raised bed'. Thinking in those terms gives me several ideas and the drain holes in the bottom of the cardboard box makes good sense. The media is actually pretty light as such. Vermiculture compost (peat moss based) added to some well composted cow manure by itself would probably not be too rich either. Although Mirical Grow potting mixes are nice to have, it's a bit pricy for a large cardboard box to use as the primary media. I may use some garden soil from the top six inches of the garden and an ample supply of vermiculture media (worms and all). There does seem to be quite a bit of discussion about potting media mixes and watering techniques in this forum so I will spend some time scanning varions threads from the past to see what I come up with. The vegetable section is now giving some discussion to the matter so will see where it goes. Thanks.
Interesting. I do grow veggies in containers (5 gal buckets). Usually tomatoes and squash and have had success with both. For sweet potatoes I would definitely add sand or turkey grit to that mix and cut back on the moss. If your looking for mass to fill the container I suggest top soil with the sand/grit mix. You definitely don't want wet soil.
Frank, have been rethinking the sweet potato in container idea and have now come up with another method which includes a raised bed which has been dug down an additional four feet. The bed was filled last year with some well aged cow manure/straw and lots of night crawlers. I have added some garden scraps as well which includes (squash, cukes, tomatoes, etc which were hit by the fall frost). This bed drains well and can provide me with an addition two months of growing time which should work. Can you tell me Frank what is turkey grit? I have never heard that expression before.
Actually a raised bed is much better. That's how I garden plus the containers. Turkey Grit is fine stone gravel that turkey's eat for their craw which inables them to grind/process food just like chickens and birds. It's about the consistency of clay cat litter and looks similar.
The way you have that bed done you could grow melons in it too. I can't imagine digging down 4'. 2' is about the best I've done.
I still think growing sweet potatoes in a tub is a good, workable idea.
Thanks Frank. I had not thought about melons which don't fare well in our short season gardens. Digging down below two feet required a pick ax to go through the bed rock. I had to do this for my fruit trees as well. Wore out the pick ax. But that is why I have a 200'L x 10'W x 6'D rock wall extending out of my back yard into a highway ditch/horse path. The rock wall is layered with scavenged material from the six raised beds and some added composted manure. This area is now ready for planting. May give the tubs a try next season if I can produce enough slips.
I don't know why pirl, but my garden is out of the beaten path for deer which have done a serious number on gardens in the immediate neighborhood. I have seen tracks only twice and they were small deer doing no damage. Others have had entire crops wiped out. They are mule deer for the most part and I think my yucca seeds are one of their favorite foods so I let the yuccas pods go to seed each year thinking the deer would possibly eat those instead. No guarantees but I think the deer have eaten seed based on droppings.
One other thought Frank is Western Red Cedar wood chips. I have a source of free wood chips which I intend to use to line the bottoms of my raised beds this year. I may even add some wood chips to the second layer of well aged cow manure/straw. This would make a pretty loose mixture for sweet potatoes by adding the wood chips to the various layers as well as the bottom. My garden soil is mainly clay with lots of manure tilled in each fall, but still heavy to a degree. I must regularly cultivate the garden to keep the surface from sealing off after infrequent rains or where I irrigate.
Thanks pirl, but I also lost 75 pounds in the process, which was absolutely necessary. I am now the shrinking man. Once was six feet tall and weighed 285. At the rate I'm going it won't be long before I'm back at my 185 weight when I was 18. But no one ever said gardening was easy. Guess that's why most people don't, but I bet that will change in short order.
That's interesting pirl. Grandmother at an early age was told she wouldn't live long. She set the example for us grandkids with her daily workouts. She and grandfather both lived to 96; Grandfather was 6'2" and 220 lbs as a young man. In his 90's he was barely 5'10" and 140 lbs. amazing how much some people change with age. They grew up on farms in Kentucky and were active throughout most of their lives. I don't know how many associates I have seen drop in their 60's within six months of retirement. I would admonish all of them to get a hobby and stay busy. Those who didn't lasted less than a year. My avocations include fishing as well as gardening. I go out at 4 am in the summers and fish until dawn, then return home and start my gardening. Winter requires constant daily workouts to stay in shape but I probably would not be alive today if I had not.
He is a gardener but the arthritis in the neck and hips is slowing him down a little. He has been active inside, this past winter, with painting and interior work. We are both big believers in fresh air, sunshine and we both enjoy working outside.
Very nice layout pirl. Had to study that pic for a while. A lot of work you two have put into that layout. Must have a couple of dozen questions floating through my mind after seeing that pic. I'm sure we could spend a week just talking 'garden'.
I figured you might have some other neighborhood critters as well which like to play in the garden. Do you mulch any with tree leaves? Looks like a Chinese Elm in the back ground. There are few leaves in our area and will need to incorporate some leaves this fall. Had some Willow leaves for my last horse manure compost bin which helped a lot in the decomposition process. Tell Jack I am really impressed with your garden.
Designer compost bins...clever design there. Can't help but notice how well landscaped and maintained your yard appears. I can only imagine the time you two spend keeping your place looking so neat can clean, especially with all those fantastic trees. I did some studies in upper New York for an engineering firm I worked with in Sturbridge Mass. I could not believe the beauty of the country there, appeared much like your area. Most people who live in the mid-western states and have not been back east think of New York and the other coastal areas in terms of the big cities with wall to wall concrete. Although we have lots of pine trees in our area, the smells after a spring rain don't begin to match what I have experienced back east. I grew up in Michigan, and the upper half of the state back then reminds me a lot of the remote areas of New York and Pennsylvania where we did our studies.
Thanks! I love the smell of spring in the air and we love all the pines around here - not the scrub pines that are elsewhere on Long Island. We're two hours from Manhattan and the cemented gardens there.
To me, the upper peninsula of Michigan, is heaven on earth.
Morgan, lining your bed with chips is great. The cedar of course will take longer to break down but it should help with your drainage as will as thin layer of leaf mulch if you have any maples or birch or aspen. The pine needles make a good top dressing for strawberries to keep the berries off the ground. I've had enough snow this year. Can't wait for spring. I should have been exercising but have played with this computer instead. I've got to get back to it though.
pirl - don't I see you from time to time on northeast gardening forum?
pirl, many fine memories of the U.P., but a lot of what I grew up with changed with super highways. I remember visiting relatives in the summer and seeing six lane highways clogged with many Ohio vehicles pulling boats of all sizes. Higgins Lake where we spent our summers went from single tiered cottages to rows of homes all on septic system which leached nutrients back into the lake changing the ecology of the lake at a rapid rate. But what does stay the same in a world of seven billion people.
I like your suggestions about pine needles and strawberries. I used straw on our two sixty foot rows and the wife was unhappy about the wheat stalks all over her strawberry patch. I have a hard time convincing her that the rows now completely overgrown into each other need to be cultivated back each year. I have read that the most invasive weed in a strawberry patch is strawberries and I believe it. Last year was a good example of what happens if you don't cultivate properly. The biggest strawberries were all on the outside of the overgrown patch and getting to the center was a real pain. This year I will take charge and thin out this patch and try your suggestions on using pine needle mulching.
We certainly can harvest a pickup truck load pf pine needles this spring. Any recomendations on colleting or storing pine needles?
Morgan - it's sad to know that the U.P. has changed that much and it makes me doubly glad I saw it in a much more pristine time. It was idyllic - young boys with fishing rods and a dog following along. Sort of like a Hallmark card but better because it was real.
We only grew strawberries in towers but they got messy very fast. It was Frank65 who recommended the pine needles for strawberries - an excellent idea. Do take charge and do what has to be done to reap the best crop.
We buy the pine needles and they're so easy to spread. It takes them about three years to decompose but they make lovely paths - nice and soft. I've never collected them and I'd spread them fast instead of storing them although the extra bags we bought last year are still good - no ripped bags to allow rain to enter and make the bags very heavy. They are worth the work. A few inches does smother/cover the weed seedlings.
Just thinking about this over the last few minutes here, I have considered using pine needs in several other locations as well. I think berries such as raspberry and grape would definitely benefit from this addition and the deterioration process should not be of concern. I have another area which will be planted this year as well. I have an extension of my yard into a highway ditch which was made from rock extracted from my yard and garden areas. This wall is about 200 ft long, 10 ft wide, and 6 ft deep. For several years now I have covered this wall with horse and cow manure as well as refuse from the garden. I had planned on planting asparagus there but the length of time it takes to develop a decent patch is too long. Unless I find a 'wild' patch of asparagus where I can reap several hundred developed plants, I will settle for something like ground cherries which I will start with this year. Appreciate the advise pirl.
I have heard pirl that even two year old roots may take up to four years to fully develop, while transplants of wild asparagus which would most likely be of the Mary Washington variety can be harvested in the second year. It's just a matter of driving around the country side until you find an old abandoned patch along the roadway. If permission to dig them is granted, then it takes a little time and effort along with the right tools to gather several hundred plants from a dense clump of plants. I have even thought about running an ad in the local paper to see if I could find an abandoned source.
Let me jump in here with my 2 cents. I have 2 asparagus patches each about 12 feet in length and they give me so much that I end up giving some of it away. It's just my wife and I but we really enjoy it. Some of my stalks are as big as your thumb but it all tastes the same.
m raider if you want to keep/store pine needles just pile them up and throw a tarp over them or put them in leaf bags. They are excelent for berry patches and any plant which is acidic. I have a couple of huge pines which give me plenty of straw. I try not to rake the ground bare though since I also have flower beds under/near the pines. The other good thing about pine needles is that they don't clump like hardwood leaves do so rain/water is easier to drain thru and into the soil.
The other thing about strawberries is if you don't want them to spread; after you've picked your berries you'll notice the "babies" coming off the plants to make new plants. Trim/cut all these off except one or two (if you want more plants) and let them grow in peat pots while still attached to the mother plant. I usually wait until the next spring then cut them off the mother and plant where desired. That should save you the trouble of digging up all the babies that have spread.
Well you two have convinced me to try some asparagus. That pic just had my mouth watering for some fresh asparagus. I think I may have found a source for some transplants so I will give it a try. The tarp idea had occurred to me for some wood chips as well so it looks like I will be doing some pine needle collecting too. I like your tip Frank on the peat pot transplanting for strawberries. I will have to remove at least half of the existing patch this year so I will probably dig the transplants taking an adult plant with only two of its runners attached. I have read somewhere that the runners should have four nodes to be successfully transplanted.
As for my sweet potato planting, I transferred a slip from the sweet potato in a jar last week and it already has enough roots to transplant. Guess I will be using a container for this slip since Iím still probably two months away from a covered raised bed transplanting.
Yeah, I think your weather is pretty much like it is here in the northeast. I don't plant warm weather crops until Memorial Day weekend. Good luck finding some wild asparagus. Also abandoned property may have some plants too. Years ago there was a homestead here that had a huge patch and someone finally dug them up. At the time I already had my beds planted. My wife makes an excellent cream of asparagus soup!!!!! WICKED!!! Where do you usually hang out when your not posting here. Pirl and I kind of hang in the Northeast Gardening forum.
Frank - please post your wife's recipe for the asparagus soup. After about June 13th we're eating 50 or 60 with our dinner so I could use an excellent soup.
Morgan - Long ago some new neighbors saw our asparagus patch, 12' x 12', and the wife said it would be a pain to have to wait three years to harvest. I asked her what a 12' x 12' patch of grass would provide, as far as food, in three years and she couldn't answer. She never did plant them and it's 16 years later. Look at all she missed for the 16 years and the rest of her life! Go to it, Morgan, and work the soil well, add a lot of compost and manure, and plant the asparagus so we can read about your success in another three years. Tempis fugits!
Where does everyone buy their slips from and is there a best variety for the northeast?
Pirl - I'll have to get back to you on the soup. Right now wife is busy watching grandies. As for the slips; when I grew some I ordered mine from one of the many gardening catalogs. I can't remember which one. But I have seen them in Burgess and others. You can grow your own from the sweetpotatoes you buy in the grocery store (cheaper than way). I don't know if any of your local nurseries would have them. When I was stationed in Florida I worked part time for a nurserie which always grew theirs in their back 40 (tons).
We have banned our two local nurseries for the most part. Prices are three times higher than catalog prices and the one just down the road towards town would not honor their warranty on the grape plants we purchased and didn't make through a year, and they were pretty nasty about it as well. I purchased asparagus roots from each location and none of them made it as well. We occasionally purchase seed from several hardware stores in town, but their selections are typical of PineTree Gardens, not many seeds per packet even though the price is usually just under $2.
The asparagus patch I am eyeing is an established patch owned by a cousin of my neighbor who co-ops the garden next door. Itís actually the father who has the garden with some garlic as well. Since this gentleman is older he has had problems maintaining his garden and the last couple of years his asparagus patch has overgrown to the point they need to be thinned out. Like strawberries the asparagus can become the worst weed in their respective patches, so I have read. I copied a procedure from the net on transplanting asparagus and I'm anxious to give it a try. Basically you pick a one to two foot square patch which has over grown and carefully dig down around the patch to a depth of about a foot or more. Then with a mall you begin to work underneath the root system to carefully remove the patch..A one foot square patch supposedly can yield several hundred plants which can be separated and transplanted with about a year to harvest. Sounds like a reasonable plan to me. I have layered the aforementioned rock pile with lots of horse manure and garden refuse for about five years now and I started growing dill in one corner. The dill went crazy last year so I removed the small garden patch at the end of the strawberry patch. I thought I might transplant some strawberries to this area as well as asparagus with the intent of displacing the strawberry patch on the end of my garden.
Frank, I hang sum in the Rocky Mountain section as well as half a dozen other forums, primarily vegetable gardening, vermiculture, peppers and tomatoes. I have recently added several new forums including this container gardening. There is one recent forum which deals mainly with raised beds and a trademark term 'square foot gardening'. I have six 4' x 8' raised beds, each of which are dug down anywhere from one foot to four plus feet. One deep raised bed is filled with aged cow manure/straw and several kinds night crawlers which I plan to use for fishing. This bed will also serve as a trial for sweet potatoes, transplanting a slip to each corner of the bed. The other deep bed is primarily for potted pepper plants or possibly tomato transplants in the spring, then in the fall I use this bed to store garden refuse in buckets (rotted tomatoes, cukes pumpkins, squash and some corn) that is later chopped up or ground, then buried in the center of the worm bed,
I intend to use the other four raised beds to grown mainly vegetables which will go directly to the table. The main garden (60' x 100') is primarily for foods which can be stored such as tomatoes, corn, potatoes, onions, peas, beans, beats, squash and cucumbers. We do a lot of canning of tomato products, pickles and relish. Potatoes, onions, winter squash, pumpkin and dried beans are of course dried stored. Peas, green beans, corn, and peppers, are frozen. Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and some grapes are fresh eaten as well as made into jams or jellies which are the favorite of the grandkids now totaling six form 1 to 6 years. With seven families to feed I stay fairly busy in the summers but I still make time to do my other favorite thing...fish, So that's my story and I'm stickin to it,
pirl, how big is that ceramic sweet potato container. I have many five gallon buckets, however I am not certain 5 gallons is large enough for a sweet potato slip. I have some larger pots in the shed to choose from. I was also wondering about saving some of the smaller sweet potatoes for replanting next year. I have read that the usual production for a single slip is around four large potatoes and as many or smaller ones which are still edible. Was just curious if these smaller sweet potatoes could be stored, then later planted whole like our other potatoes.
I have 11 2x6 raised beds and 10 3x3; plus I use 10 gallon buckets too. I've changed this year in their use. I'm moving some rhubarb plants into 4 of the 6' beds and flowers in 3 6' beds and strawberries in 4 of the 3' beds. That article in the asparagus forum is a gem if you get the chance to check it out. My whole veggie garden area is about 50x50 though I only use about a third for veggies. I also have blueberries and raspberries plus some space for overflow perennials which I use for trades and give-aways. Our church usually has a perennial plant sale in the spring and I usually donate to that as well. We also have several perennial beds around the property so all in all it keeps us busy.
Thanks for the tip Frank; I will check out the asparagus forum. Although my garden is a bit larger I am fortunate to have the time to devote to it. I have a neighbor with a garden the same size as yours but he has a full time job and four kids between the ages of 1 and 6. I admire the efforts they put into their garden and I wonder if I would have had the stamina even at their age to do so. Keep up the efforts my friend.
raider - I'm redirecting you. The article is under "vegetable gardening" forum and click on asparagus - cut or not to cut. Scroll down and you'll see the lead to the article which I was telling you about. It really is a great one.