Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mid Summer 2015 Container Garden Report

This is our mid-summer review on the container garden and the various techniques and choices made.

There has been almost no rain, almost no overcast, and very hot temperatures. Things were different this summer in various ways.

We tried the following techniques (a) put the lettuce and the herbs such as basil in partial shade in the hope they would not bolt so quickly. (b) preventively spray with copper solution and neem oil now and then, (c) when disease or insects attack, spray with various solutions and then ruthlessly and carefully remove the affected areas and / or remove the entire plant, (d) leave more space than ever before between plants, especially the beans and tomatoes, even though this would probably reduce overall yield because of less growing area, (e) provide support for everything, beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers, (f) in the case of tomatoes, try growing the seedlings in these peat moss starting pods that they sell.

All of these techniques worked out to one extent or another and are recommended.

What did not work out was that we had total failure on our carrots and our peas, two different types. I do not know why. I suspect that the peas were victims of the birds, see below.

One surprise was that for the first time, the birds viciously attacked small seedlings, particularly the tomatoes, cucumbers and peas.

Bird countermeasures consist of $20 of green plastic fencing cut half height and surrounding each seedling with a cylinder of fencing material. This worked splendidly and had the additional benefit of providing support to the plant (cucumbers and tomatoes).

The end result was pretty good availability of romaine, green beans and just ok cucumbers. Basil was very useful. Almost all of these but the basil are now history. The tomatoes are just starting. Peas and carrots were a total failure.

We had less disease this year. The green beans always had a lower leaf yellow rot that I removed by scissors. One cucumber plant had a billion aphids, knocked back with insecticidal soap and then the plant removed. The cucumber leaves always had some sort of horrible rot that might have just been leaf burn and which I ignored.

Strangely, plants that in the past had delivered many crops only delivered one this year. Green beans and cucumbers are most notable here.

Going forward, the use of shade for lettuce and herbs, the much greater space between plants, and the use of the green fencing are all solidly recommended.

This cost very little this year, as we are in that sweet spot that equipment bought can be reused but new equipment not needed.

Finally, one final word of caution. If one were to do this to actually live on or for economic purposes, the scale would have to be vastly increased, and no doubt new issues would emerge.

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