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Old 04-06-2011, 11:54 AM   #21
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I have been container gardening for the last few years. I keep getting more and more containers. (I want to try more and more dif veggies... ) My issue are squirrels digging in them. I planted some seeds a few weeks ago and the plants have started coming up but the squirrels are wrecking it. Anyone have any ideas on what to do to keep them out? We have used mouse traps in the past when we have tomatoes.

ALso, my neighbor has been feeding the rabbits that are now living under her deck. THey ate all my crocuses this year! I told DH we need to get some chicken wire before we plant anything else at ground level. He thinks it looks ugly.

We used to have several cats in the area and that helped but they have moved on or were hit by cars.
I use chicken wire to protect the seedlings until they are established. It looks ugly, but I don't care.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:04 PM   #22
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I just found this picture of my container garden from June 2009:



Against the brick wall, we had strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. In front of that, bush beans, herbs, carrots and bush beans again. In the front, swiss chard and zucchini.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:57 PM   #23
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I just found this picture of my container garden from June 2009:

Against the brick wall, we had strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. In front of that, bush beans, herbs, carrots and bush beans again. In the front, swiss chard and zucchini.
Is that a cucumber plant I see climbing the back wall? I was thinking of setting up something for my cucumber and squash plants to climb...
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:59 PM   #24
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Your container garden looks beautiful and prolific, FD. Very inspiring. Thank you for all of your detailed answers, dear FD and Goonie. to Simple Girl's questions. I have the same questions!

Simple Girl--thank you for raising excellent queries. I am a newbie at containger gardening too.

I will have a lot of fun this summer. What a wonderful thread.
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Old 04-06-2011, 01:39 PM   #25
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OK, if I'm planning on using 18 gal storage tubs as my planters, how many bags of Miracle Grow do you think I will need per tub? (bags are listed as 10 dry quarts). Not sure how much the Miracle Grow condenses once moistened. This could be quite expensive, at $3.48 per bag...

Oh, the bottom 6 inches will be reserved for water. OK math geeks, please help me estimate this!
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Old 04-06-2011, 01:45 PM   #26
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Ooookkkkaaayyyy.
What do I do if I ALREADY used potting soil and not potting Mix? Can I save it from be coming brick like?
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Old 04-06-2011, 01:47 PM   #27
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Is that a cucumber plant I see climbing the back wall? I was thinking of setting up something for my cucumber and squash plants to climb...
That plant in the upper left with the large leaves is indeed a cucumber plant. It's actually not climbing directly on the wall. Under all the leaves, there is a staking system the plant can grab on.
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Old 04-06-2011, 01:52 PM   #28
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That plant in the upper left with the large leaves is indeed a cucumber plant. It's actually not climbing directly on the wall. Under all the leaves, there is a staking system the plant can grab on.
That is quite nifty! I want to do the same with my cucumbers and squash. Since I only want 2 of each, do you think I can put all 4 in the same row (one one side of an 18 gal tub) so that I can have them climb up a similar staking system? My concerns are (1) will it be too crowded and (2) will the squash grow in a somewhat shaded area (since this is what you recommended for the cucumbers)
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Old 04-06-2011, 02:07 PM   #29
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That is quite nifty! I want to do the same with my cucumbers and squash. Since I only want 2 of each, do you think I can put all 4 in the same row (one one side of an 18 gal tub) so that I can have them climb up a similar staking system? My concerns are (1) will it be too crowded and (2) will the squash grow in a somewhat shaded area (since this is what you recommended for the cucumbers)
Cucumbers and squash are big plants. You have to give them some room.

You can definitely put the 2 cucumbers in the same pot. But I would leave some separation between the cucumbers and everything else. Cucumbers will grab onto anything, including nearby plants, and you end up with a giant mess. In the picture above, the cucumbers ended up crowding the tomatoes on the left.

I don't know what kind of squash you want to plant. I tried zucchinis. They did best in the sunnier area of my garden. The plants were 3-4 feet in diameter, and maybe 2 feet in height at maturity. So, depending on the pot size, I would only plant 1 or 2 squash plants per pot.
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Old 04-06-2011, 02:16 PM   #30
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Cucumbers and squash are big plants. You have to give them some room.

You can definitely put the 2 cucumbers in the same pot. But I would leave some separation between the cucumbers and everything else. Cucumbers will grab onto anything, including nearby plants, and you end up with a giant mess. In the picture above, the cucumbers ended up crowding the tomatoes on the left.

I don't know what kind of squash you want to plant. I tried zucchinis. They did best in the sunnier area of my garden. The plants were 3-4 feet in diameter, and maybe 2 feet in height at maturity. So, depending on the pot size, I would only plant 1 or 2 squash plants per pot.

Thanks! Sounds like no more than 2 plants per tub for these babies, then. I want to do the yellow crooked neck squash, and from what I have read, they spread out all over, too.

I was just hoping to save some $ on the tubs/dirt. Hopefully I will reap my garden "dividends" over the years and this doesn't turn out to be a passing hobby for me that wastes a bunch of money!

So I guess this is what happens when you semi-FIRE and get too much time on your hands...
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Old 04-06-2011, 02:22 PM   #31
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Ooookkkkaaayyyy.
What do I do if I ALREADY used potting soil and not potting Mix? Can I save it from be coming brick like?
Hopefully someone has a solution. Unfortunately I don't...
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Old 04-06-2011, 02:56 PM   #32
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Hopefully someone has a solution. Unfortunately I don't...
I don't think it can be saved. I'd dump it out and start over. If you want to try, maybe take about 50% out and add a 50/50 mix of vermiculite and peat moss. You'll probably spend more doing it this way and likelihood of success is low. Tge potting mix allows the water to wick up to the plants and also gets the fertilizer wet enough so that it provides nutrients to the plants. That won't happen with potting soil.

Cukes: I had some great looking vines last year, I got about 8-10 nice cucumbers and then the plants were overtaken by some kind of black plague--a creeping black crispiness that killed off both plants within a week. I'm going to try again, but do some searching to see what this might have been.
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Old 04-06-2011, 08:54 PM   #33
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Taking notes here! A few questions...I have been doing a bit more reading, and one site states you need to have an aeration screen or tube to allow the roots to get some air. In the design I linked to above, I didn't see anything that allowed for this. How important is aeration?

Also, regarding fertilizer, how do you add it? Do you mix it in with all of the soil, all the way through, or just in the top part of the soil? Or do you do a strip of fertilizer in away from the plants? How do you know how much to put in?
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In was wondering this also. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems these things have a pool of water in the bottom. I always thought that was bad? I guess the spacers and limited channels of soil are what provide the wicking and keep the roots from drowning? Seems to really cut down on the soil volume available for roots.

Seems like punching a few holes in the plant containers and setting them in a pool of water (or a larger, shallow container full of water) would do the same thing?

-ERD50
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Actually, there is an aeration tube in the design above: the water bottles you use to fill up the water tanks. In commercial self-watering containers, air is similarly introduced to the roots via the watering hole.

I add fertilizer as a strip, on top of the soil, and away from the plants (the strip is placed lengthwise, in the center of the pot). If you do that, it's very important to use a cover, otherwise the fertilizer will be released too quickly when it rain.
In the video she drilled a hole in the side of the big container as a water level control. I'd put at least a few 1/2" to 1" holes in the sides to not only control the water level, but to also allow air to get to the roots. And those holes should be a couple inches or so lower than the tops of the cut-off water jugs that make up the reservoir, thus allowing for a bit of air room. The small amount of potting mix that is squeezed into the little nooks and crannies will do a fine job of wicking the water upward into the rest of the container. Since the plants aren't actually sitting in the water itself, there should be no problems with root rot or things like that.

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Originally Posted by Corporate ORphan View Post
I have been container gardening for the last few years. I keep getting more and more containers. (I want to try more and more dif veggies... ) My issue are squirrels digging in them. I planted some seeds a few weeks ago and the plants have started coming up but the squirrels are wrecking it. Anyone have any ideas on what to do to keep them out? We have used mouse traps in the past when we have tomatoes.

ALso, my neighbor has been feeding the rabbits that are now living under her deck. THey ate all my crocuses this year! I told DH we need to get some chicken wire before we plant anything else at ground level. He thinks it looks ugly.

We used to have several cats in the area and that helped but they have moved on or were hit by cars.
For squirrels, I sprinkle ground cayenne pepper around the plants in the containers (and in the ground if they start digging there). They HATE the hot pepper, and usually learn to avoid that area. If they forget, I simply remind them with a bit more! If they are way to adamant about digging and destroying my plants, I cut chicken wire and put it in the pots. And I cut a couple of the wires and point them upward so the little bushy-tailed tree rats get poked in the nose when they decide to check it out!

As for rabbits, usually the stray cats and the redtail hawks have handled the situation for me. The few times they failed their duties, I sprayed some nasty, smelly, animal repellent around. I use Liquid Fence Deer & Rabbit Repellent...smells like disgustingly very rotten eggs! It works though!

And for stray cats that come around to try to prey on birds, or to use parts of my garden as a litterbox, I spray a little cider vinegar around those areas, and the cats stay away!
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:08 PM   #34
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Oh, and fertilizer? I mix it into the whole batch of potting mix, since the plants roots will eventually grow all the way down through it.

And how much potting mix is needed? 1 cubic foot of mix will fill up about 7 1/2 gallons. So an 18 gallon container will hold about 2.4 cubic feet of mix. Ah, and then I see your talking in quarts of mix....umm, 4 quarts to gallon! Ha!

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Ooookkkkaaayyyy.
What do I do if I ALREADY used potting soil and not potting Mix? Can I save it from be coming brick like?
It can possibly be saved, though no guarantees. If you already have plants in it, and they can be safely and easily removed temporarily, you could lift them out and mix in some compost and/or peat moss (moisten it thoroughly before you mix it in), and some perlite and/or vermiculite. Add in some slow release fertilizer at the same time. Then put your plants back in. It should be OK...but again, no guarantees.

If you planted seeds....I'm not sure what you'd want to do.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:10 PM   #35
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...Also, regarding fertilizer, how do you add it? Do you mix it in with all of the soil, all the way through, or just in the top part of the soil? Or do you do a strip of fertilizer in away from the plants? How do you know how much to put in?
I use pelleted fertilizer, the kind you mix into the soil per package directions before planting and it dissolves as the season progresses. Osmocote is a favorite of mine.
http://www.scotts.com/smg/catalog/pr...temId=cat50116
I use it in my containers and in the open garden. I walk along a row in the open garden and shake it in a line a few inches away from the plant. I gently shake it off the leaves if any sticks. For my containers, I use a small coffee scoop to get it evenly spread on the dirt top surface. I don't dig it in to avoid disturbing the roots on mature plants.
I also use Osmocote on my houseplants. Same top surface aplication with the little coffee scoop.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:27 PM   #36
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I will never grow peppers in the open garden again. Between the cutworms and chilly East Nowhere NY nights up until first week of June, peppers never grew well for me.
The 1st pic is a 20" diameter plastic pot (on the left) from last year, housing 6 Portugal pepper nursery plants, in my screened in porch. The 2nd pic is the last picking of the year.
I will be growing mild cherry peppers and Anaheim peppers in the same way this year. I have pepper seedlings up already in my indoor growing flats and 10 gallon aquarium (on right of 1st pic) . I use standard plastic rectangular "window boxes" and the aquarium for seedling propogation. There is much more root space and no need to transplant twice. I pinch the top leaves several times so they will not get too leggy.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:39 PM   #37
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Are those cayenne peppers? They look like my cayenne peppers, I love the looks of twisted crinkled red peppers and imagine how hot they are. This year I'm toying with growing habaneros but that may be totally crazy! My cayenne plant produces a lot of fruits, dozens, I still have a lot in the freezer. They are pretty hot but I'm used to them and they are not that bad, that's why I am stupidly thinking about habs.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:49 PM   #38
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My little green friends....Roma and cherry tomatoes and cucumbers in the window boxes and peppers ( 2 successive plantings) in the aquarium. The labels are tiny yellow PostIts and wooden toothpicks.
The aluminum foil reflects the light inward toward the seedlings, i.e. intensifies the light inside the aquarium.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:56 PM   #39
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Are those cayenne peppers? They look like my cayenne peppers, I love the looks of twisted crinkled red peppers and imagine how hot they are. This year I'm toying with growing habaneros but that may be totally crazy! My cayenne plant produces a lot of fruits, dozens, I still have a lot in the freezer. They are pretty hot but I'm used to them and they are not that bad, that's why I am stupidly thinking about habs.
Nope, they are Portugal peppers. Too hot for me but Mr B loves 'em.

Pepper Seed - Hot Portugal

Early and very productive in a small space. I have a short growing season.
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Old 04-06-2011, 10:09 PM   #40
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Too bad they don't indicate the Scoville units as that'd tell me how hot they are. They look like they'd be hot but sometimes a pepper that looks like it'll burn a hole in you is not hot.

I like hot peppers tho just a few years ago I couldn't even put 1 drop of Tabasco sauce on anything. Now I can eat Tabasco like it's ketchup. But like I said habanero peppers are a whole different critter!

When I pick my cayenne peppers and they are fresh I often have wet hair from sweating after adding 1 to a dish! But while cayenne peppers are hot they are not all that hot relative to some peppers. I think the average person that does not eat a lot of hot peppers would think a cayenne pepper is brutally hot. I eat the seeds and pith cuz that's where the real heat is. I've told the folks at the Chinese restaurant to "make it so hot you'd find it too hot" when I order take out and it's barely hot. I guess they don't have really hot peppers as most people would not like them so I chop up one of mine and dig in!
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