Container Garden Update — June 28, 2015

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.  June 28, 2014 post here.  June 23, 2013 post here.

An overview picture:

150628 overview

We’re still ahead of last year. I’d attribute that to better weather, mostly. We also made a point not to cramp the plants quite as much this year.

We’re also learning as we go — in late June 2013 I was trying to nurse along lettuces. Now I save my effort for stuff that’s inclined to cooperate.

One thing that I noted in the 2013 post was the absence of predatory insects. We had lots of leafhoppers and some aphids. Now we have lots of predators, especially wasps and spiders. I’ve only seen a couple of leafhoppers. Hopefully that’s “equilibrium”.

The flower barrel is much happier lately — I threw a little fertilizer into the container, and we increased the plant density. I think there’s less direct sun hitting the dirt now, and it’s reducing the amount of evaporation, leading to less stress on the plants… That’s my theory for now anyway:

150628 flowers

The “late peas experiment” is going well. We’re now harvesting super sugar snap peas:

150628 peas

The pot of raspberries is doing well too. On a typical day we harvest 3-6 of them. It’s a nice little treat:

150628 raspberry

The basil needs a serious haircut. I’m guessing that will happen on Tuesday:

150628 basil

The King of the North are our biggest and earliest peppers again:

150628 kon1


150628 kon2

The Roma tomatoes:

150268 roma


150628 tigerella

The tallest of the Tromboncino are now climbing over the top of the 8′ trellis:

150628 zucchini 1

A reverse-angle view:

150628 zucchini 2


We’re going to have a lot of zucchini soon. I didn’t get a picture of the 6-12 largish fruits at the bottom of the plants..


3 thoughts on “Container Garden Update — June 28, 2015

  1. I’ve come to the conclusion, comparing my plants to yours, that I just don’t have what it takes to be a productive vegetable gardener. Maybe next year I’ll just go all tomato. I seem to get at least a middling crop from tomatoes.


  2. Well, ours get more sun, and the boxes are “cooking” on a concrete pad. The microclimate must be at least 10F warmer for ours, on average. It may also be that the reflective concrete and the light colored house are making the whole environment much “brighter”.

    As to what else I *think* we might be doing differently —

    1. I don’t think you’re using plastic covers on the boxes? You may want to give that a try again. I’m guessing they keep the soil moister and warmer leading to better growth. Next year we could set you up with some of the black plastic — you could try a side-by-side comparison that way. Worst case, you hate the plastic and you can just cut it off. Also, when it gets really hot like this we’re watering before and after work to be on the safe side. That might be helping.

    2. I think you’re planting at a higher density than we are(?) And I think you might be “mixing” (multiple types of plants) in boxes(?) We had “mixed” boxes in year 1. Since we’ve stopped mixing the boxes our yield has improved quite a bit.

    3. Are you using calcium nitrate on the tomatoes? More nitrogen = more vegetative growth, though (if I’m remembering this right) nitrogen mostly helps leaf growth but not the fruit growth. (Again, I could be completely wrong on this point.)

    In any event, “productive” is relative — If either of us had full southern exposure our production would probably be blowing away what we’re currently experiencing.

    To your point, if we were going to “monoculture” it would likely be tomatoes. Or tomatoes and a box of basil. (Or greens until June 1, then the monoculture.)


  3. You’ve hit most of the differences between our gardens.

    I kept the plastic covers off this year as an experiment and also because it provides moisture for the bees and other pollinators. The soil is as moist as ever (hence the bees drinking at the soil) but yes, they are cooler which has probably retarded growth. However, I notice that the radicchio is doing very well, probably _because_ the soil is cooler. Noted for future leafy-green crops.

    I have multiple types per box, but there’s nothing I’ve read that says that’s a problem. I have 3 tomatoes per box which shouldn’t be a burden, but they’re all slow coming on.

    I’m using calcium nitrate, yes, but I’m also using organic fertilizer which may be less effective than your synthetics. As with most organic products, you have to use more of it to equal the efficacy of synthetics. I also had an infestation of black-aphids on the squash, which destroyed the first blooms.

    I’m still learning what plants I like and am good at raising. So far I do best with tomatoes and cucumbers, and really suck with the cruciferous plants. If I cut back to toms, cukes, basil, and sweet peppers, I will probably be a happier gardener.

    It’s only my second year, right? No…third. First year was all learning. Second year, I experimented with growing from seeds. Third year, experiments with open boxes and all organic treatments. For next year, I think I apply everything I’ve learned NOT to do and see how it goes.



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