A few weeks ago,we caught the tail end of a special on Square Foot Gardening and it inspired me to start container gardening again, but in a new and more productive way.
I have been gardening in containers for many years, and even designed and built cedar planters to allow stand-up gardening. These planters allowed us to grow vegetables on our deck where the deer herds at Lake Monticello could not get at them.
When we moved to Floyd, VA, in 2005 I tried conventional gardening but the local deer and other varmints ate most of what we planted.
I considered container gardening again but could not get enthused because of the expense and the effort involved.
Mel Bartholomew and his Square Foot Gardening showed me how to create better container gardens for less money.
After reading his website and viewing his videos, I realized that I had never really understood how to create potting soil. My previous container gardens were basically amended topsoil which worked after a fashion, but was very dense and hard to work with in a container.
Using some of the Square Foot Gardening ideas and incorporating my own, I created an expandable container garden out of old file storage baskets, some plastic trash bags and some landscaping cloth.
The potting soil is one third vermiculite, one third topsoil, and one third compost for which I am substituting spagnum moss, humus, and composted manure until I am making compost in enough volume. This combination is easy to work with, the plants love it and it drains well but stays moist.
Currently, I have onions, beans, peas, potatoes, parsley, tomatoes and squash coming up. Parsnips should be showing up any week now and I will be adding more containers as time and money permits. I have also used heritage vegetables wherever possible.
With the container garden sitting on our back deck, our first action of the day is to pour a cup of coffee and saunter out to see how the vegetable are progressing. It is truly satisfying as every day brings new surprises.