Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Growing In a Shoebox, or Whatever

3 tomato plants growing in old recycling bin
I've mentioned already that I grow in the ground, raised beds, whiskey barrels and pots.  You can grow a plant in anything tho.  For full-sized annuals any container that is at least 6" deep and 1' around with drainage holes will grow all but the largest of plants.  Last Spring I found I had too many tomato starts and not enough garden space, so I put 3 of my tomatoes into an old recycling bin that was laying around.  If you want a fancy garden with attractive planters by all means go to the store and pick up a few, but if appearance is less of a concern than plant growth, get creative.  Remember to choose products that won't break down when wet, and that won't leach toxic chemicals into the soil and plants.  I've seen people plant directly into bags of compost, slicing holes in the bag to insert the plants.  If you live in a colder climate this would be a great way to get tomatoes started a bit earlier, the plastic bag will keep the soil inside heated and a supported plastic cover will warm the air around the plants on chilly days.  Equally good items to use as pots are: old Easter baskets lined with black plastic (with a few holes in the bottom), old cooking pots (again with holes poked in the bottom), buckets, small trash cans, rubber boots, etc.  For starting seeds I have heard that egg containers work well and the starts can be transplanted without removing them if the carton is cardboard.  It will break down in the soil just fine.  My brother came up with an idea last year that worked out nicely as well.  He spent his winter evenings making 4" paper pots origami-style out of newspaper then planted seeds into them and when the weather warmed he planted them in the garden, pot and all.  This system cut down on the cost of seed starting by quite a bit, all that was needed was a small amount of "Mel's Mix", some newspaper, and a plastic tray to stand the pots in.  Be creative, think about the things you have on hand, or in your recycling bin.  Plant wherever you can find a spot.

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