Raised Garden: Think Inside The Box
Last year our vegetable garden was very limited; we were busy and gone most of the summer (fishing), but this year I am planning to stay put.
Going to all of the garden shows these last few months have given Aaron and me the garden flu/bug! We want to turn our yard into a produce machine.
Since we take plants to each show for our displays and there are no stores selling plants at that time of the year, we needed to plant seeds indoors starting way back in December. Getting the plants to and from the shows was a chore. Some of the plants would freeze just taking them from the house to the car! And they didn't much care for being planted and dug up each weekend so I had to keep planting more. Some died, many didn't.
I had/have so many plants all over the dining room, kitchen and living room, it was becoming a jungle; we needed to get them out of there! I still have two tomato plants climbing all over the living room, I'm afraid to move them.
Everyone we met at the garden shows would tell us about their gardens, what worked, what didn't, it really made us want to go home a plant right away. However, the ground was still frozen (in April) and our planter box was frozen solid.
Aaron found some old plastic glass in the basement and an old glass window pane in the barn. We laid them on top of the frozen planter and in two days the planter was thawed out completely. I removed some of the soil to our compost bin (one of our proto-type planters) and mixed in some compost and peat moss to the remaining soil. Planted some spinach, beets and peas, watered them, and covered them back up with the plastic glass and window pane. A week later they sprouted. Note to all: if it is going to be sunny, remove the window pane! We had two days of sun while we were away at a show and the window pane fried the peas! Had to replant. The spinach and beets under the plastic glass were fine.
We have been eating the spinach and beet greens for several weeks now and it is only May 24th. Everyday we have to trim the spinach; spinach in eggs, on sandwiches, pork Florentine, in salads or eaten right on the spot. Even the grandkids are picking it and eating it while they are out playing. Whenever they get hungry instead of coming inside to grab a snack they go to the planter box and eat away! We do not use any pesticides so I know what they are eating is safe.
Now that the frost seems to be gone we have planted red and russet potatoes, loads of "magic" green beans (my grandkids call them magic because they grow purple and turn green when you cook them), and garlic in our 7" on-the-ground raised bed. In one of our Elevated Garden Planter Boxes we put in lots of carrots, cilantro, basil, garlic and a tomato plant.
Another planter holds tomatoes, beans, red cabbage, radishes, cucumbers, green onions, kale and what I think is either broccoli or collard greens (the marking tag is long gone; a hazard taking the plants to the shows) or it could even be green cabbage for all I know!
While we were at the Northern New England Garden and Home show in Maine last week the nice people in the booth next to us gave us three eggplant plants so we had to find a place to put them. Aaron built me a raised bed so in went the eggplants, a tomato plant, zucchini plant and when I was thinning the cucumbers Aaron said I could not throw away growing plants, so I transplanted the cucumber seedlings to the raised bed and much to my surprise they lived. Also planted in a permanent raised bed is asparagus and the three remaining corn stalks from the show displays.
The grandkids wanted their own planter box so we fixed one up for them. I bought them a little garden tool kit and with it came beans and pumpkins, so we planted the beans in the Elevated Garden Planter Box along with the four jalapeno pepper plants Aaron wanted and a whole bunch of cilantro. The pumpkins went in the ground over by the blueberry bushes.
I still need to find places for four more tomato plants, a few pepper plants, pansies and strawberry plants. Think I can get Aaron to build me another raised bed?
To see the pictures, go to our Facebook page. I will post them as the season progresses. Please post your pictures too!
Happy Gardening Season Everyone
One thing we kept hearing about this past week-end, while at the Home Show in Buffalo NY, was how much people are concerned about planting a garden in the soil around their houses. Whether it is lead paint chips or toxic chemicals that contaminate the dirt in this region, people are afraid to grow vegetables for their families in their own backyards.
You may recall back in the 70's (if you are as old as I am, that is) the horrible toxic chemicals that were found in the Love Canal area of NY. Many residents were relocated and homes and schools were destroyed because they sat on a former yet leaking toxic chemical dump. So many of the residents and students developed serious, (sometimes deadly), medical conditions, malformations and miscarriages. Some of the Love Canal area is still, to this day, fenced off and the public is not allowed to trespass onto its grounds.
Now a company wants to spread its fertilizer by-product on fields in the towns of Wheatfield and Lewiston, which local residents are comparing to the Love Canal disaster. If they are allowed to spread this by-product, according to the EPA you cannot grow food on that land for 38 months. Locals now fear buying vegetables from local growers because they cannot be sure the food is safe to eat.
The best possible alternative is to grow your own food in a controllable environment. By growing your produce in Elevated Garden Planting Boxes, the soil that grows your food does not touch the contaminated ground soil. You determine the soil you grow your plants in, the fertilizer you use, the water source and whether you use pesticides or not. You also control who touches your food.
Know what you are feeding your family, you can grow your own at home with a little "Inside the Box Thinking".
Last week, Aaron and I were at a home and garden show in Orlando, Florida. While we were there I was asked, “Why should I buy your planter box”. Well, there are a lot of reasons to buy our elevated garden planter boxes and on-the-ground raised garden beds, so here are a few:
We are the manufacturer, so you are buying a product that we take pride in making and selling to and for our customers. The quality is going to be higher because our name is on it. Aaron designs (and makes) all of our products; he has over 35 years of manufacturing experience.
We manufacture our products in our own manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania, using US steel and cedar grown in the USA. You will be helping to keep jobs in the USA.
When our planters are designed, they are made so you will have many, many years of enjoyment. They are super durable, and we believe the sturdiest elevated planters on the market. Not only do we stand up to our planters, we stand behind them!
When looking for an elevated garden planter you must remember that the weight of the soil, water and plants can weigh as much as 80 pounds per cubic foot. (A 2’x 4’ x 14” deep planter has 8 cu.ft. of soil, it can weigh as much as 640 lbs.) If you have a raised planter on four legs, then each of those four legs must hold ¼ of the weight. Will your deck or patio hold that much weight without it creating four divots on your deck? With our planters, the steel frame distributes the weight evenly throughout the whole frame, not just on four legs or casters. If you have a rolling planter on casters those casters will most likely leave trail marks on your deck.
The inside of the planter that holds the soil and plants must also be sturdy. I have seen some planters that have aluminum frames with plywood bottoms. First, I would NEVER use plywood around things I am growing to feed my family. The adhesive that holds the plywood together is a formaldehyde compound! We have all seen, I’m sure, what happens to plywood when it comes into contact with water and soil on a constant basis, it is not rot resistant, even if it is “marine” grade. Secondly, what if Fido or, heaven forbid, a small child is playing under that plywood bottom planter when it decides to give way, splat, what a mess and a liability.
Our planters have thick rot resistant cedar slat bottoms with a reinforcing 2x4 running right down the center of the planter that supplies extra support and helps to transfer the weight to the steel frame.
Our planters look good and come in several different colors and sizes to match your garden décor.
We sand the boards and router the top inside edges of the cedar boards to help alleviate rough wood and splinters.
The planters are put together using carriage bolts rather than screws. This way the fasteners go through the wood, not into the wood that can lead to splitting and cracking, especially after a year or two of hot/cold temperatures. Think about this, screws have a tendency to come out of the wood, especially if that wood gets wet, dries, gets wet again, freezes, dries, or to put it another way, your normal yearly changing of the seasons. Assembling with carriage bolts (stainless steel by the way) washers and nuts is the smart choice.
There is no middle man to pay, so our prices are great, especially for the quality you are getting. My young grandkids (we have 6, ages 1-14) will still be able to use their planters when they are adults. Yeah they may have to change out the cedar boards in 10-15 years or more, but the steel frame should outlast us all.
And lastly, IT’S AN AWESOME PLANTER!!!
I had the honor to have recently met Doug Oster, of Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette "Gardening with Doug" fame, at the PA Master Gardeners work shop in Meadville, PA, where Doug was a speaker. He went home with one of our Pink Elevated Garden Planter Boxes. He said, "Only real men can rock pink". Much to our surprise and delight, Doug made a video about our planter.
In the video you see Doug assembling the planter and planting his fall crop of salad greens. He says he hopes to harvest the greens all winter long, yes even in Pittsburgh. Check out his blog and video here:
With the high cost of fresh food, more and more people are growing their own fruits and vegetables at home, even those residing in senior living centers, apartments and mobile home parks. It can be tricky, but with a little planning you can grow a lot of your own food in a very small space. Intensive and companion gardening methods are surely becoming the mantra of modern day gardeners. With yards getting smaller and growing space and water at a premium, it is important to utilize what space is available to grow the most vegetables and herbs you can given your limitations. Elevated or raised garden planting boxes are the basic foundations of an intensive garden. The elevated beds allow you to focus your soil preparation into small growing areas, resulting in efficient use of soil amendments and a perfect environment for high yield vegetable growth.
Planning a garden bed layout can take some time and research. You must consider which plant needs a lot of root space, nutritional needs, maturity dates, growing speed, planting space, and sun and water requirements. Intensive planting methods take into account all these requirements.
An example of intensive gardening is growing radishes and carrots in the same space. Carrots take about 15-20 days to sprout and 90 days to reach maturity; radishes come up quickly and are ready for harvest in only 30 days, so when planting carrots from seed in your garden you can plant radishes at the same time and in the same area. Once the radishes have grown to maturity and harvested, the carrots will then have the space they need to grow. Since carrots grow to a deeper depth than do radishes, the carrots will get their nutrients from the deeper soil.
Sowing companion plants next to each other, gardeners have learned that the need for pesticides can be reduced or eliminated altogether. Most gardeners know that planting marigolds next to Cole crops, such as cabbage and broccoli, helps to deter the cabbage moth, but marigolds, especially French marigolds, also helps to keep nematodes (tiny worms that attack root systems) under control. Most onion family members (onions, garlic, chives, shallots, leeks etc.) repel aphids, carrot flies and cabbage worms; it has been reported to also keep deer from eating nearby plants. Cilantro/Coriander will also fend off aphids, white flies, spider mites and potato beetles. Sage is good for beans, cabbage and carrots and Tarragon is a good companion for most all plants.
Be mindful of what helps and what hinders your crops. Basil planted next to tomatoes helps to increase tomato yield, but keep dill away from them, as dill will attract hornworms. Do not plant potatoes and tomatoes in the same area in subsequent years; they both attract the same pests. If you want to grow fennel, it’s best to give it its own space. Fennel will inhibit growth, causing plants to bolt and may even kill nearby garden plants.
By using intensive and companion gardening techniques experts calculate that the average home gardener can grow upwards of $10 worth of food per one square foot of space. Knowing what plants can be grown next to each other is the key factor in achieving your maximum harvest. To see some sample garden plans go to: http://www.AaronsHomestead.com/About-Usv