2015 preparing for planting

First, I’ve finished the raised grow bed in the backyard, and filled it with “Mel’s Mix” from the :Square Foot Gardening recipe.  Next up for this platform garden is the addition of a trellis system.  I plan to grow beans and squash in this thing, and I don’t want the Argentine ants to get them, so any part of the trellis that touches the ground will have a barrier of Tanglefoot on it.  The idea is to keep all fruits and veggies OFF of the ground, and have the only pathways to the garden blocked from the ants.

I may even sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the bottom of the thing.

I’m busy weeding the garden to the South of my house. (I’ll call it ‘The South Garden’ from now on – to make it sound bigger!) I’m doing this in preparation of planting lots of different kinds of peppers there.  Last season, pepper plants were a huge hit.  They grew well, pests left them alone, and our canned peppers were so delicious that we ran out before Christmas!  Totally not fair!

This year we intend to grow lots of meaty peppers for canning, and spicy peppers for spice.

Speaking of peppers, I dried the Serrano chilies that we grew last year.  I tried hanging and drying them in a ristra, but that didn’t work out too well for us.  So instead, I put them in our dehydrator, and dried them until they were light and easily crushed.  I then bought a very cheap coffee grinder, and ran the peppers through it to create my own Serrano chili pepper seasoning.  (Yes, the seeds too!) And it is wonderfully hot and tasty!  I love it in my “everything ramen”.  (I should post the recipe for that…)

So, what’s up next?

As I was digging out the South Garden, I kept looking at all this wasted space on my porch.  We have a wrap-around porch, and the South side of it gets very hot in the summer.  I’ve been wanting to plant cover in pots or planters there to catch the sunlight, and reduce the heat transferred via the concrete into our house.

I’ve already planted a grape vine on that side of the house, and am trellis training it to cover the upper area of that porch.  But I needed something for the lower area.  And since my motto is, “Plant food” – that’s what I did!  I planted potatoes!  You can see here the 4-bags of potatoes, (and you can see my work on the South Garden is in progress too.)

Potato grow bags are a good way of forcing potatoes to continue adding new potatoes to the plant.  If you’ve never used these before, here’s a site with a good explanation of them.  The two bags on the left in this image are seeded with Yukon Gold, and the two bags to the right are seeded with red potatoes.

You will notice that I’m not letting the bags rest directly on my concrete patio.  They are on boards that are resting on bricks.  This is to prevent moisture from accumulating under the bags and damaging my porch.

I do expect an ant invasion on these poor guys, and will have to keep an eye on them.  I’ll use diatomaceous earth here, and may try to tanglefoot the area – but possibly not… that would be a lot of tanglefoot!

I will be putting a critter net over the top of the potatoes because I have a very common, but beloved garden pest that might attack these things.  My cats.  They see these bags as “fun sized” litter boxes!

After I finished putting these on my porch, I realized that there was still another 3 feet of room to the left of these bags.  So I built a wooden planter.

This is what I’m calling a “Quick and Dirty Deck Planter”, and I’ve created a set of plans on how I made this thing.  You can download a PDF of these plans by clicking on the image, or on this link.  They’re free – have fun!

It’s “quick and dirty” because it took me about an hour and a half to build it from raw materials in my woodshop.  I also only expect it to last 3 or 4 seasons before it starts to succumb to self-composting.  (That means it will rot slowly).  I’ve got plans to make a better, more robust model of this, and use it in several places around my porch.  When I do, I’ll post the updated plans.

One really nice thing about this planter is that it is raised 6-inches off the surface of the porch, on 6 legs that are easily protected by Tanglefoot.  I’ve already put this planter in it’s location, and put tanglefoot on its legs.  Soon I’ll fill it with Mel’s Mix, and having it grow some tasty spinach.  Since spinach can be harvested without killing the plant, I plan to have fresh spinach in my salads and sandwiches all summer!

1 comment

  1. Terri’s avatar

    Hi Martin,
    I have a few raised beds and I’ve tried using potato grow bags. I am going to plant some more this year. I didn’t do well with the potatoes because I put them too near the tomato plants that overshadowed them. I think. 🙂
    Terri
    (your cousin) ( Ask Tanya)

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