Fun Feature: Follow the Progress of our Gronomics Elevated Planters: #2By Melody Rose (melody)
May 21, 2011
This month, we'll document filling the planters with the growing medium and planting our crops.
Melody: "I'm planting a sampler of a variety of edibles, herbs, ornamental plants and seeds. By using some transplants, I'll have almost instant gratification and greenery. However, using seeds is important to me since I'm an avid vegetable gardener and it's essential that direct-seeded plants can thrive in these beds."
Melody's list: Chocolate Cherry tomato (transplant), Butterfly Red pentas (transplant) Long Slim Cayenne pepper (transplant),French Marigolds (transplant)Detroit Dark Red beets (seed), Red Cored Chantenay carrot (seed), Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach (seed), Ichiban eggplant (transplant) State Fair Mixed zinnias (seed), Variegated Lemon Thyme (transplant) Thyme (transplant), Tricolor Sage (transplant), Gold Rush wax beans (seed) Gypsy sweet pepper (transplant), Big Bertha sweet pepper (transplant)Black Beauty eggplant (transplant) and Chives (transplant)
Terry: "I had to keep reminding myself that these are vegetables and to not cram them as close together as I do ornamentals in a container. Honestly, fighting the urge to squeeze in too much was way harder than putting these elevated beds together. Like Melody, I planted an assortment of vegetables, herbs and a few things just for fun. It wasn't easy to limit myself to two tomato plants, but I did!"
Terry's list: I chose 'Black Cherry' and 'HealthKick', tomatoes. And since my family loves salads, I also picked up a cucumber 'Bush Pickle' plant, plus some arugula, romaine and deer tongue lettuce. 'Tequila Cherry' portulaca tucked in each corner pretties up this container and reminds me of my grandmother's flowers. We are huge pepper fans, so the larger bed contains several peppers that are not as easy to find at the Farmers' Markets, including 'Cubanelle' 'Anaheim' and 'Yum Yum Gold' (a prolific mini-bell), along with two clumps of fennel (mainly for the butterflies) Mexican coriander, lemon basil and flat-leaf parsley, Some other basil and zinnia seeds will get tucked in between the plants now that our weather is ready to stay reliably warm.
When we finished the first installment, ouir planters were constructed and the landscape fabric spread on the floor.
Melody noted that while the fabric only comes up on the sides of the planter a few inches, there hasn't been any leakage of the growing medium on the concrete.
Both of us used bagged garden soil and potting mix. Melody used organic potting soil and garden soil and she included a couple bags of organic composted manure to create fertile and well-draining soil.
Terry opted for a mix of garden and potting soil blends that had vegetable fertilizer already included with no additional amendments.
Here's Melody's tung oil treated bed filled and ready to plant. This was the hardest task. The 34x48 planter holds 9 cubic feet of growing medium, while the 24x48 box holds 6 cubic feet. Most bags of growing mix have the cubic feet they contain right on the bags.
If you have difficulty lifting or have a bad back, you might want to have someone help with this. Melody had no trouble, but she's in pretty good physical shape.
Terry lucked out - her husband was nearby and happily lifted the bags and filled the containers so she could plant.
Here's the bigger of Terry's two beds, full of new peppers and herbs.
As soon Terry finds her good zinc markers (a casualty of a recent move), she'll replace the plant tags that came with the plants. Although it won't be nearly as hard to keep just two tomato plants straight as it is when she plants dozens of varieties!
And a ground-level view of Terry's other bed, where lettuce and tomatoes are surrounded by cherry red portulaca flowers.
After a very fun greenhouse run with some other DG members, Melody had to make some choices. There are more plants than she has room for. The overflow will go into conventional containers.
Both planters are placed where they will stay for the summer. This is just outside Melody's back door where the herbs will be handy.
This is the natural cedar planter as Melody starts placing transplants and seeds in their homes.
She is already using the thyme, sage and chives...and it is so convenient to just step to the door and snip what she needs.
The tung oil container is planted. Per a request from a reader, Melody inclulded marigolds and zinnias. The zinnias are just starting to germinate in the back part of the planter. Beets are in front, between the marigolds. Spinach and carrots are along the left rear side.
The tricolor sage is making a beautiful splash of color while the wax beans start to germinate.
All finished! Things are growing nicely and everything is looking good. Melody still has some containers to plant with ornamentals to pull everything together, but she is quite pleased with how the new plants are growing and how simple it is to care for.
As we wrap up this second installment, we welcome your questions and comments. We'll be back in about four weeks with another installment. We hope you will follow us through this summer and possibly beyond, as we experiment with our planters! They say great minds think alike and we are both already considering hoops or other season extenders before frost hits us in late fall. Melody's planters are situated on her concrete driveway pad and they face south, while Terry's are sitting just inside her backyard fence, with good morning and afternoon sun exposure. With some protection, it might be easy to keep salad greens growing throughout most of our Zone 6b/7a winter. Mike at Gronomics has also told us that he grows portabella mushrooms in his garage with them, and that sounds pretty yumy too! Let us know what you think!