At last! A peek into Pugsley's garden. You must have been working all day. I know I was, and so happy to get stuff into their containers. Okay. Here is my strawberry verticals, [already posted on my thread.]
I took a photo from the window of the new "Garden District" apartment looking out over my grow pole garden. There is a wide variety of plants in the poles, ranging from Brussels sprouts to onions to petunias to dianthus to alyssum, etc, and one lonsome sunflower which voluntered in the top pot right in the center of the picture.
From the opposite end of the grow pole garden, you can see the "Garden District" apartment I am adding to my Mobile Home. I have now added on to both sides of my Mobile Home in order to have room for everyone when they visit. Im labeling one side for "In-Laws" and the other side for "Outlaws." My son lives in the outlaw side...naturally.:-)
Here is a photo of the sunflower that voluntarily popped up in the top pot of this grow pole. It is sharing space in the pot with Walla Walla onions and a couple of Bijou sweet peas. I recently harvested bok Choi and radishes from the two empty pots and that is chard in the second pot from the bottom. Time to replant...decisions, decisions, decisions. But as Shakespear once said, "A carpenter's work is from sun to sun, but a gardeners work is never done." Sigh.
Have yourself some fun, Devota. Plant a medium size sunflower (5 to 6 ft size) in your top pot. It will grow without interfering with your strawberries. Add an extension to the pole of your grow pole to support the sunflower and leterrip. LOL.
Last summer, my son, who knows from nothing about gardening, was helping me put seeds in the grow poles and garden. He planted sunflowers in the top pot of one pole. At first I got mad...then I got to thinking...what the heck...lets see what it will do. They grew about 4 foot high on top; of a five foot pole and were waving proudly up there well above my 6 foot high privacy fence. The people driving down the road must have wondered about that.:-)
Thats the way to plant them suckers, Pugzley! Plant them thick and pull and eat (or transplant) the thinnings as you go. Boy those are big pots! You have got a heck of a garden going there. You can create a lot of transplants by planting thick in one pole. It can be sort of like an incubator creating more plants to expand your garden. In your case, you better be careful though...looks like you got a lot to handle all ready.
Bob...just out of curiosity...how many times a year in your climate do you think you can harvest a crop of fast growers from one grow pole? About how long from transplant to harvest on the Romaine? And that is without sneaking out there to talk to them in the middle of the night cause most of us dont do that. Well...at least I dont.
I'd say for example, romaine takes about 60 days so one could harvest 5 times a year down here taking July and august off due to heat. I have romaine ready to harvest continuously. I plant seeds about every 3 weeks. Some are direct seeded and some transplants. This pick is direct seeded
Thanks JayWhacker. I just went outside to check my plants for the 100th time today, the other 99 times they were fine. But a herd of aphids decided to swoop down and attack my lettuces! That meant war, so I got out my stylet oil and machine gunned them to death. It sure doesn't take them long to wrinkle up a leaf, does it? I'm starting to hate them as much as those spider mites I know are coming in July.
Bob, I can only grow outdoors here from mid Feb. though mid December. :) If I had sun on my property, that is.
Jay and Bob, I gotta comment/question for youse guys...I have one 15 inch stacker for my lettuces. Hubby and I went to Lowe's to buy a 4' piece of rebar and some sort of screw collar from the electrical dept. that Bob used but didn't remember what it was...to make my stacker go up on a pole.
Hubby was pissy, he was ready to leave, and we tried a million different combos and couldn't find a fit for a collar, or a pole or a rebar to fit...We left the store mad at each other with hubby continually yelling "why do they have to be on a pole for them to grow???? Why not just sit them on the ground, it doesn't make sense?" and me yelling " I don't know, but ALL my friends do it this way!!!!!!!!!!!!! "
My stackers are still on the ground, I still can't find solid information on a pole/collar that will work, and hubby won't discuss it any more. Why this is so hard for me, I don't know. And I am a little curious as to why being on a pole is better, other than the need to not bend down to care for them. Help you guys, I want poles like yours!
Karen...I aint gonna get in no family arguments...been there, done that, but not any more.
But might help a little. The collar clamp thingy Bob uses is called a ground rod clamp. If you go out to the electrical pole or the side of the house where your electrical meter is located, you will find the top of a copper bar that has been driven into the ground. That bar is about 6 feet long and driven into the ground to make a good contact for "grounding" your electrical system. A bare copper wire coming from your meter base, or transformer pole is clamped to that grounding rod with with a ground clamp. A washer dropped on top of the grounding clamp will provide a smoother surface for the bottom pot to sit on. Actually, anything that can be firmly clamped or screwed to the re-bar will work. Bob just happened to think of the grounding rod clamp to use.
LOL, Thanks Jay! We got over it pretty quick and actually laughed about it on the way home, but hubby could care less about gardening anyway and just didn't see the need to have the stacker "up"...I'll try that. I'm at least going to stick rebar into the little guy to keep it from blowing over... Just got through thinning my lettuce out of it and stacking properly.
Ok, I searched for strawberries and found you guys!
I never heard of or saw these grow pole things before.
I am very interested! How long have you been growing stuff this way?
I can see many pros(mainly space) but are there any cons?
At the moment, I am only looking for a solution to grow strawberries, but I can see how
this could become a new way to grow other things for me.
I haven't found any cons to these as yet, all my stuff I have in them are direct seeded and just babies, but after seeing the success of others here using them is what made me decide to buy some. I have a really small planting area, so I can get a lot more plants in here now.
I guess one con would be it costs a little bit up front to buy them, but they last for many years, so after awhile they'll pay for themselves. I don't plan on ever stopping gardening so I think it was a good investment.
Cris...Stacked containers...what I call grow poles...have been used for years to grow strawberries in huge commercial gardens. By growing vertically, they can grow on one acre what a dirt farm might take ten acres to do...and with better control of water/fertilizer, less ground deseases, etc etc. Instagardens is the first one to offer different versions of vertical growing systems to home gardeners by becoming a distributor for different systems. He also uses them himself and can help us with tips learned from experience. Join the new wave of gardeners...and you might as well become a coco-nut too while you are at it. :-)
Thanks for the link. I did find something under hydro stacker and yes they are quite a large $investment. I think I would like to start with just the stackers like on Bobs site. I think they were about $16 each and I think I would want 10. I would do 2 stacks of 5 high. I can handle the watering part myself.
I was looking at the 6 compartment 4"x4". Would this be big enough to grow strawberry plants in?
Jay, I skimmed over something about coco-nuts, LOL. Might be interesting, gotta just get the berries growin first.
Hey Bob, did you ever think of having a co-op? D-mail me if your interested. I need mine now, but is an interesting idea for the future.
Cris...Looks like you are interested in the veggy producer stacking pots. Ten of those would give you 60 plant sites since each pot gives you 6 plant sites each. That is a whole garden right there! And each stack will sit on just a 2x2 foot area! Dont sell these vertical stacker,s short...you can grow some large plants in them. I have grown tomato's in mine as well as large bushy zinnia,s and pot marigolds and my pots are not as large as the veggy producers. And you are right about not having to have an automatic watering system to begin with. With the variable spring weather, I have my automatic watering system turned off and I just walk around stabbing the pots with a moisture meter and adding water where necessary.
The reference to coco-nuts apply,s to many of the "nuts"on these forums using the cocanut coir grow mix sold by instagarden. Some one dubbed us the coca-nuts. Instagarden has demonstrated success with the stacked containers, cocanut coir grow mix and their fertilizer and it might be a good idea to follow their lead and gain from their experience as you start out.
The attached photo is strawberries growing in the little 12 inch NJ stackers. There is a red one hiding in there! My first of the season. Come to think of it...my first strawberry ever.
Yeah Bob...touchy situation. I've still got scars on my head from mixing into family arguments but for the sake of the vertical growing industry, I gave it my best try. I just hope it doesn't become a regular thing, this "marriage canceling," its too emotional disturbing.
Sorry, I am still a little confused. Very typical of me, but once I understand every little detail about something, I become a very dedicated believer.
Jay, Congrats on your "first strawberry", the whole set-up looks amazing. The NJ stacker you have in the pic, looks like it has either 3 or 4 compartments, not 6.
I have looked for detailed info on the site but couldnt find 12" NJ stacker.
I have a pretty good size garden, but hubby is worried about strawberries getting into his lawn. That is the reason for my interest in the stackers.
I also have visions of future bigger and better things for the stackers.
Did you guys start out with just a couple of stackers and then add to your collection, or did you jump right in with both feet?
Hi Chris, I have two poles and I have two different kinds of strawberries on each pole. I actually have 28 plants in one stacker, [24 in the 24 pots of my EZGro] and 4 more in a pot I put under to catch the drippings from the nutrient water. I call it my underpot. giggles The plants are healthy and beautiful.
I'm a poor girl so I may not have anymore verticals this year. Waaaa.
I didn't pay that, Jerry. I followed the example of my fearless leader, Jay, and ordered just the pots. 6 of them with shipping was about 65 dollars so I actually have 135.00 in both stacks plus a couple of dollars for "Jay's almost patented" electric conduit pole idea. D
Chris, Sure they might seem expensive to start with but they can be used for years and if you have coir as your mix it can also be used for years. So that is just an initial outlay but if you divide it by several years you're way ahead. I have to go slowly on account of budget but I will be getting more later on. I want to try the big NJ stackers at instagarden next. One of the neat things, Chris, about stackers is: since I am growing ever bearing strawberries, I can take the stacks down come winter and settle them into a protected place in the ground with mulch over them and next year pop them right back up there on their poles. Isn't that cool?
I have it narrowed down to the NJ stacker and the veggie producer.
A little more thought of where its going then I am ready.
I will probably order some coco stuff with the stackers.
It mentions in the coco info that you can use it as a top dressing around garden beds.
Has anyone done this? I use black mulch but this might be a nice alternative.
Thanks for all the info and patience everyone.
Ya'll that was something my friend brought up to me, that I have spent so much on gardening this past year, I told him though, well next year, ain't got to buy nothin cept maybe some seeds. Didn't tell him about the self watering raised garden I've on my wish list or the self watering NJ stackers. LOL
Bob: Can the 5 gallon and lay flat bags be reused next year?
Cris...check with instagarden on this but I think the coir they sell for containers is just too nice to use in ground beds. It is for making patty cakes and sniffing and smelling and playing around with and using in containers. I think there is a courser coir for ground beds.
I got into this stacked container gardening over a period of 4 to 5 years, Cris. A dollar here and a dollar there and pretty soon you have almost as many as you wont to play with...almost.
Jay, how many planting spots does your NJ stacker have per stacker?
I will check on the coco coir for beds. Courser does sound better for outside.
The EZ grow has a 4 compartment stacker for $6 each. I would rather have 6 compartments though. They dont sell a 6 compartment.
The veggie producer has 6 compartments but is $17 each.
I absolutely understand that these are a longterm investment, and I dont mind that. I also dont mind spending extra for quality, But I am the cheapest person around so I need to make sure that I get the best for the least money. I cant stand it when I see something I bought, for less money somewhere else.
Bob, do you have an educated guess on how many coco blocks I would need to fill 10 veggie producers?
1 5KG block of coir fills almost 5 Veggie Producers. I have a 3 pot set of EZGro's and they are about equal to the 12 inch NJ Stacking Planters. NJ has 3 compartments vs EZGro has 4. NJ's compartments are bigger than EZGro's. EZGro is straight thru watering vs NJ's is a self watering planter with a resivoir and overflow.
Now I have to go back and read the NJ's self watering part. I skipped over it thinking that it was a water set-up. I am only interested in buying the stackers so I wasnt paying attention to that. Evidentally it must be in the design of the pot. Be back in a few.
Bob, would you have a preference between the veggie producer and the NJ? Mainly for strawberries.
Eventually for snap peas also.
If I had not started out years ago with EZgro, I would really like the veggy producers too. EZgro pots measure about 13 inches wide and about 6 inches deep. The Veggy producer is about 21 inches wide and I think about 8 inches deep. That extra width and depth probably makes the VP more versatile as to what and how much you can grow. Plus, being wider, it should stack and stand better. The VP's look like they are made from the same hard plastic (or maybe fiberglass) as the EZgro's and I dont think I will ever wear out these EZgro's. They are tough and a long term investment as you mentioned.
All the NJ stackers have 3 plant sites per pot. I have 36 strawberry plants in 4 of their three pot stacks.
It may have cost me a little extra but I bought 5 gallon grow bags rather than the big blocks of coir. That way, I can use a grow bag to grow in or just take the coir out of it and put it in my stackers. I didnt check to see what the difference in price was. It is just handy to have the grow bags available to quickly hydrate and use whichever way I wont to use them.
Jaywhacker: Did your blocks of coir come in a white bag with a handle on it? I was careful when I opened up the last of them, and did it from the top and guess what, with a hole puncher, you can then punch holes in the bottom of the bag and have another grow bag, not a 5 gallon one mind you, but a grow bag just the same. LOL My mind went to wondering in the wee hours of the morning again when I ran out of containers to put things in. Only got 2 blocks of coir left though and one starter block of coir. Can you believe I have used 10 blocks of coir already?
Jay: I'm stunned. I have six stackers (NJ) and I put one strawberry plant in each compartment. Are you saying that I could have put 3 in one compartment and it wouldn't be too crowed?
They have been in there about 3 weeks. I'm not happy with the soil that is in there, but when I bought the strawberries I got a better price if I bought w/o the pots, and I had the stackers with me so I just put them right in with the soil from the berry grower. I want to replant them with better soil and now I want to replant them even more for the space. Does anyone have feelings as to whether this is a good idea or not?
2 busy...This is my first year growing strawberries. I have them in the small 12 inch diameter NJ stackers. I dont think I will put more than one strawberry per site now. I might try that later though in slightly larger pots just to see if it will work. A set of stacked containers with the right grow mix and properly water/fertilized is a real plant producing machine and I was just trying to inform new users that they can plant more intensively than they might think.
I would definitely recommend some coir for your stackers. They are designed to work with a fast draining grow mix to eliminate water logging. I have some coir grow mix that I have been re-using for about 4 years now and it shows no sign of compacting or having any problems yet. It is easy to remove a pot from the stack to harvest whatever is growing in it, remove the old roots, and put the coir back in the pot. I have seen some advertisements saying the coir can be reused for 5 to 10 years and my experience so far seems to bear this out. Instagarden is having great success with straight coir. It can be mixed with some perlite too but that doesnt seem necessary. I definitely do not add any of those "organic" fertilizers to mine. Lots of that stuff can de-compose, get slimy, and close off the air pores in your grow mix. I like being able to keep the basic coir grow mix as pure as possible so I can re-use it as long as possible. The savings in money can really mount up over time. After this years growing season, I may flush my grow mix with a diluted mixture of water/hydrogen Peroxide. Hydroponic growers do that to kill any pathogens in their old grow mix so they can re-use it so I don't see why I cant pour that mixture down through the stack, then flush with water, and maybe leave the grow mix right in the stacked pots through the winter months. That would save some work and solve the storage problem. A coir mix that dry's out can be blown out of the pots by this central Texas wind though so I will just wrap the pole with something to prevent that. Maybe old pieces of bed sheets of different colors. That should impress the neighbors. :-) Or better yet...old bed sheets with flower designs on them.hehe Or maybe one of these enterprising coco-NUTS on this forum will go in business making and selling grow pole covers for winter storage. But the best idea yet, is to always keep something planted in the post. Lots of stuff will grow through the winter in most climates, pansy's for instance and sweet pea flowers and some kinds of vegetables.
The slightly higher cost of stacked containers and coir grow mix can be easily offset by the savings in later years. The pots are not going to wear out and if you treat the grow mix like you should you can keep re-using that for a long time. What we are doing with these stacked containers is basically a hydroponic gardening system. Instagarden has perfected it and can provide the example for us to follow in making maximum use of our stacked pot systems. A little experimenting around by the rest of us as we go along should get interesting...Jay
I went out and took a picture of her. I have this stack and a matching on hanging on an old swingset since they look so nice.
I will check into the price of the coir. I am under the impression that you have to use a special fertilizer for that medium, is this the case. Budget is a concern right now, (I'm a Florida teacher and that's not a good position to be in) so I have to be very careful with ongoing cost this year.
I do love these, they are very pretty as well as functional.
I just harvested these Walla Walla onions from the top pot of this four pot grow pole. No way they would have been able to grow to maturity in that pot without being too growded so I harvest them as green onions. They were about the size of a pencil when I stuck them in the pot about a month ago. They were sharing the pot with some sweet peas that you see draped around there and a sunflower that some bird planted for me. That sunflower is coming on strong and the sweet pea is starting to bloom.
The second pot down was harvested about a week ago...15 radish's marble size and bigger.
The third pot down has Swiss Chard growing in 3 of the 4 sites. The forth chard bolted to seed two weeks ago and I pulled it and threw it in the compost pile. I harvested enough chard leaves today for a one person meal from the three chard's. In about a week, I can harvest them again. Chard can keep growing right on into the summer and be continuously harvested.
The fourth pot down had bok choi in it but they bolted to seed about two weeks ago and were discarded. If they had not bolted, I had planned to harvest the outer leaves on a continuous basis just like I am doing the chard.
Im making this long winded gabby post to point out how productive a grow pole can be with proper planning. I have so much going on that I do things haphazardly but suppose I had immediately stuck more seed in the pots as I discarded the bolted plants. They could be coming on strong right now. And I am going to poke some kind of seed in that top pot where I just pulled the onions. No use wasting that grow space. Or suppose I had a little plant nursery set up with seedlings scheduled to replace what is harvested from the pole for faster production.
Even with my haphazardous way of doing things, this one little grow pole aint doing bad...especially seeing as how gardening season hasn't even started yet. :-)
2busy...That "special" fertilizer, usually called hydroponic fertilizer, is nothing more than another type of soluable fertilizer. It is really a good fertilizer and is considered to be more complete than some others. Instagarden uses something similar to that at half strength on his plants. I have used a similar fertilizer with great results and plan on using it again once I get my automatic watering system set up like I wont it. But for this last year and at present I am just using Miracle Gro all-purpose soluable fertilizer applied with one of those hose end mixers about once a week. Plus every few days I mix up a weak mixture of fish and kelp liquid ferts with a little bit of epson salts and walk around foliar spraying all my plants. I probably don't know what I am doing but so far haven't killed anything and everything is growing gangbusters.
I have also used slow release pellets in the pots mixed weakly with the grow mix so I didnt burn anything. I figured constant watering thru the pots would use that stuff up pretty fast so I combined it with Miracle Gro soluable fertilize if the plants looked like they "might" need something. I experimant a lot.
Back to your original question...no special fertilizer is necessary, Miracle Gro will work...but some special fertilizers work a lot better. Again, I refer to the way instagarden is doing it. It is hard to argue with success.
Well, that's good. I have Miracle Gro on hand. I was looking at his website and I think I'll get some in a week or so. I have two other sets of stackers, do you know which size I would need for those? The one pound or the 5 pound.
thanks for all the help. I absolutely love this site and all of the help we get.
Back to business:
I picked 40 lbs of Vadilla Onions (Granex, if you don't live in Vadilla, GA) yesterday. That's about 1/10 of the onions I have growing. There were 5 per 5 gallon grow bag. The coir let them grow and expand easily. The wife processed them so fast I didn't get a picture. Next pickin I'll grab a shot. Next year I will grow some in the Veggie Producer. 5 stackers x 6 planting spots x 2 onions each spot. That's 60 full size onions in one stack. Gota love that.
Devota came up with the idea of mounting vertical stackers above a ground container so that the "drip to waste" from the stackers becomes a "drip to pot" way of making use of the fertilized water. I stole her idea by mounting a grow pole in a large nursery pot. Anybody else comes up with a good idea, rest assured, Im going to steal it!
The pole has 4 Early Girl tomato's and alyssum flowers. Devota'a underpot has trailing petuna and purple alyssum. The other two nursery containers have an Early Girl tomato each plus some more alyssum. Looks like some wasted space there. I think I will transplant some chives in there to sort of make sure all groing space is utilized.
Darkmoon, thanks for the Ace hardware link. I ordered 1 pack (which is a 3 pk).
I will try this out to see how it looks for outside mulch. With free shipping it ended up being $31 for the 3 pk. Pretty reasonable if its nice.
2busy...dont sell those little 12 inch NJ stackers short. Last year I had some MG peat based mix in some of them and planted some Calundula (pot marigold) in them. I intended to transplant the calundula out of the pots but, like lots of things, I never got around to it. The calundula was supposed to grow 18 inches high and wide and almost did. Then the Texas wind got hold of it. I stepped out of the house one morning and the calundula was laying in one corner of the yard and the pot in another. The plants roots were so firmly griped into that gob of peat mix that none was lost. The peat mix was shaped just exactly like the inside of the little stacker pot so I just picked up the calundula, stuck it back in the pot, watered it, and it kept growing and producing a mass of flowers as long as I kept dead-heading it. This kept happening all through our windy autumn into winter. Each day I would check to see if I needed to "re-pot" the calundula. I guess I should have replanted the calundula in a heavy nursery pot but I was sort of getting a kick out of see it blow around the yard. That peat mix was mostly dried out even with regular watering but the calundula was tough enough to keep living.
Tubs, I agree with you on safety of our pets for sure...but I believe the article we read was a Dave's Garden article on having a "Chocolate Garden". The author had visited one that used Cocoa Tree bark mulch around the area, which smelled like chocolate because it was from the Cocoa tree. That wouldn't be the same as the Coconut mulch, which is derived from coconut shells.
Thanks for the caution, I will check it out some more.
One of the areas I was going to try this in was the "dog area", where he does his business.
It is only about 6x10' but I will look into it some more.
I will check out "chocolate garden" also.
The product you are concerned is manufactured by "Hershey" chocolate husks. They grind up the chocolate coco shells and it makes excellent mulch. I used it in NY. It makes your entire garden smell like chocolate for a few days but my dogs never touched it? It is not fine like coco coir but more chunky and can not be used for anyting else but mulch cover to prevent weeds. If you are a chocolate lover you will love the short lasting fragrance but nothing will grow in it!
I can't seem to find the instagarden website or anywhere that has stackable planters like the ones Bocabob shows in the photos. Does anyone have a good, current link (or links) for them? I'd be interested in a full set up or build-you-own. Thanks!
nancy janes stackers are sold by everybody and their brothers, sisters and cousins. I googled up this info for you. You will notice that the price for a stack of three pots ranges from about 25 to 35 dollars with amazon being about the lowest price. Your local nursery may be able to pick up some of those for you and save you some on shipping costs. I threw away those rinky dinky so-called "self watering" grids in the bottom of the of the NJ stackers and drilled holes in the bottom of the pots (the pots are even marked to show you where to drill). This allows you to water all pots in a stack by just putting water in the top pot only and it drains down through all the pots below. If you leave those "self-watering" grids in each pot, you almost have to water each pot individually and that defeats the purpose of using stackable pots. The NJ stackers (the smaller ones) are good units to start out with and to learn about growing in stackers.
No commercial operation just a home garden. I have 28 stackers and 4 clay pots. The 12, 10 gallon flower pots are for tomatoes and squash. I have 400 hundred strawberry plants. I have snow peas, green and yellow beans, lettuce, hot peepers and sweet peepers. The 9 grow bags have blueberry plants in them I started this spring. over all I have about 25 hundred tied up in the garden. a very affordable hobby to get into. I also collect my own rain water to keep it going up until I get my first frost. This type of garden requires a lot of water. I could use my well but rain water is better. whats nice about it. no weeds to worry about. nutrients are very reasonable in price.
Hi Ray --- It is a lot of fun gardening the way you do as I did it for many years and the best part no weeding and top quality produce. Have you considered opening a farm stand?? LOL I do miss it! I raised most everything. Tomatos in my winter season, October to February and watermelon from February till October. I really had it great and some fantastic results which always amazed me. I grew strictly in Earthboxes and loved it. I would be out there enjoying my coffe and feeding my birds at 8AM till dark. Against doctors orders I continued and had another heart attack right in my garden so that was the end of my big time garden. Lord how I miss it !!!!