Sunday, September 9, 2012

Don't Forget The Inverted Container

I enjoy container garden for so many reasons.  I have several of various sizes sitting around the garden waiting to transfer inside when necessary.  It is the opportunity to keep the fresh produce growing year round.  Several years ago someone decided it would be unique to create an upside down container and called it Topsy Turvy.  It's a useful idea for various reasons.  You can hang the planter from the patio and watch you crops grow right from the back door.  If you intend on moving the harvest indoors when the weather turns cool they are easy to transport.  They require no weeding and take up little space.  Gravitating downward promotes quicker growth and often a larger harvest.

You could spend $10 or more on a hanging planter that is noting more than colorful plastic   You won't find dirt included, and very rarely will your purchase include seeds. So why would I spend $10 on a piece of plastic when I've got plenty of containers around my home that work well? You know those 32 oz plastic coffee container I hope you don't throw out?  They are perfect for planting herbs in.  Drill sever 2" holes in the bottom of the container.  Start in the center and work around the bottom leaving 3" to 4" between openings.  Turn the container over and place it on top of newspaper.  A little of the dirt will spill though the openings.  Add 2" of dirt in the bottom of the container placing seeds as closely over the open slots.  Fill the container full of soils approximately one inch from the top.  Cut a large hole though the very center of the lid.  Place the lid over the planter and add water to the plant.  Hang the planter in an area that gets plenty of sun and check every day.  For the first few days keep the soil moist to promote germination of the seeds.a

I went to my local Walmart asking about plants that had to be discarded.  They were more than willing to let me have my pick of planters that had been thrown out, including the soil.  I choose several that are 18" tall  and light weight.  Soil and water will weigh down the planter.  To make hanging easier the planter should not be made of a heavy material.  For these containers I will plant Tomatoes, Peppers, and even Cucumbers or squash with these containers.  These vegetables require more substantial space than herbs to form a strong root.  Most planters of this type will already have holes on the bottom intended for drainage.  If not drill a hold at least 3" wide in the center of the bottom.  Place your dirt in the bottom add the seed directly over the opening.  Next you'll want to find a wire hanger to fastened the plant with.  Snip both corners of the hanger and turn the ends upward to form a "J".   Add two holes about three inches from the top directly proportional from each other to assure the planter hangs properly.  Find a nice sunny place to hang your planter and add some water.

Take a trip to your local thrift shop and check out the dish section.  You will probably find a few large plastic mixing bowls for a more than reasonable price.  Don't forget to make sure they are light weight and follow the same procedures for other containers.

If you enjoy the colorful festive attire of the Topsy Turvy hold on until fall.  I found three different varieties marked down to $1 and picked up a couple.

My husband hung them from a tree in our front yard for now.  Pretty decorative idea.

Some basic rules to follow:

1)  It is best to place the container outdoors until the seedlings begin to appear.  Once the weather is cooler they can be moved inside fairly easily.

2)  Make sure the container is hanging in a secure, well lite area.  One your crops begin to produce the container will become heavier.  If securing indoors make sure the hanger is balanced enough to remain intact without falling.

3)  Although container gardening is lower maintenance it still requires daily care.  Check on the progress routinely, add the required nutrients and make sure to provide plenty of sunlight.

4)  Some may suggest using the top soil to plant additional foliage.  I do not recommend this.  Adding to many sprouts to the planter will only deplete the nutrients necessary for a bountiful harvest.

5)  Be patient.  Weather you are planting herbs or vegetables like any gardening project patience is a must. Although it is trying to watch for that first tomato to appear it is well worth the wait.

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