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Talk to me about my garden

Old 06-05-20, 11:14 AM
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Juan Foote
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Talk to me about my garden

I am FAR from an accomplished gardener. Mostly just try to grow native plants, etc. When we moved here a few years ago we tried our hand at gardening and the deer/critters ate it several years in a row. We gave up for a while and this spring (and with the shut in) decided to try a container garden on the back porch. It's doing (mostly) well. We have tomatoes, squash, a couple of variety of beans, peppers, eggplant...a thing or two I am forgetting.

The issue is this. In the late afternoon and into the evening the porch is REALLY hot. We had been using a patio umbrella to shade things during that hottest part (and it actually hasn't gotten really hot, yet). Using the umbrella worked well for keeping the plants cool, but stunted them pretty significantly. Much of our garden is well behind where it should be. We have opted to leave the umbrella down more, plants are shooting up nicely. This week is starting into the 90's for the season and come mid afternoon everything on the porch is wilted down and suffering badly. It's ruined some lettuce that was due to come in this weekend in two days.

I see people doing container gardens on roofs with tar. I know my back porch can't really be any hotter than that or a South Georgia field with no shade at all. What can I do to protect these plants without stunting them?
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Old 06-05-20, 11:30 AM
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What are the containers like? If they're wood or unglazed ceramic, they might be drying out too quickly. If that's the case plant saucers will keep them moist longer.

I'd talk to the local nursery. They will understand the local challenges.
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Old 06-05-20, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
What are the containers like? If they're wood or unglazed ceramic, they might be drying out too quickly. If that's the case plant saucers will keep them moist longer.

I'd talk to the local nursery. They will understand the local challenges.
Much of what we are using are plastic buckets and such. For instance 5 gallon bucket for tomatoes with a small 3/8" hole drilled about a half inch off the bottom of the bucket.
I had not considered calling the nurser(ies) around. We have Lowes/Home Depot and then a few wholesale only places. Our experience at one of those was sort of strange so we hadn't thought about going back in...

It's funny in that my grandfather was a super accomplished farmer. I remember helping with, working in the garden but apparently didn't retain any of the knowledge or ability.
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Old 06-05-20, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
Much of what we are using are plastic buckets and such. For instance 5 gallon bucket for tomatoes with a small 3/8" hole drilled about a half inch off the bottom of the bucket.
That might be problematic by holding stagnant water in the bottom, but that doesn't seem to be your problem right now with the hot weather.

You have no local nurseries? They tend to be much more knowledgeable than Home Depot. Maybe get on nextdoor.com (very localized neighborhood forums) and seek local gardening expertise there.
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Old 06-05-20, 11:53 AM
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Agree about local nurseries.

Is the soil dry during the heat of the day?
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Old 06-05-20, 12:14 PM
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A shade cloth can help - it lets in more light than an umbrella. Set it up for filtered light during the hottest parts of day but full light during morning hours.
As can not having them sitting directly on concrete or other solid mass vs. soil. Soil will have moisture and will stay cooler due to evaporation.
Larger pots will not overheat as much. That is the main problem the soil is getting too hot. You can also shade just the pots.
Lettuce may not be in season.
Most tomatoes and pepper varieties will not set fruit if overnight temps are not below ~75F
Peppers will wilt severely in full hot sun even with ample water, but as soon as shaded will perk up again.
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Old 06-05-20, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
That might be problematic by holding stagnant water in the bottom, but that doesn't seem to be your problem right now with the hot weather.

You have no local nurseries? They tend to be much more knowledgeable than Home Depot. Maybe get on nextdoor.com (very localized neighborhood forums) and seek local gardening expertise there.
The small hole placed slightly upward was of my own doing, as opposed to drilling the bottom.

We had been having a LOT of rain, and cooler weather. The buckets weren't drilled originally, so they flooded. Drilled holes in the bottom and they drained, but then when you watered it pretty much went straight out the bottom along with some soil. One small hole just up on the side keeps the bucket from leaking all your water out, but won't flood, and leaves a bit of a space for some water to sit. I don't think that the tomatoes themselves are going to allow for stagnant water. Dunno.
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Old 06-05-20, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Agree about local nurseries.

Is the soil dry during the heat of the day?
On all of the smaller pots, probably certainly. We water everything in the morning. We water some things in the early evening if the soil is dry to a poke.

As to the nursery thing we have three gorgeous ones nearby. Two of them barely HAVE a sign, and one has this gorgeous sign, big lot, store out front. We park there one afternoon and start walking around the nursery, like you would when looking. All of a sudden the owner, his wife, and a big guy that works there come over and it had appeared to them that we were trespassing, somewhere we weren't supposed to be. Short talk later and we find they aren't open to the public. They actually put a sign up later that states they are wholesale only. The other two close ones you can't even drive in.
We had a Pike nearby but they went out of business some time back.
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Old 06-05-20, 04:04 PM
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lettuce is a cool weather crop
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Old 06-05-20, 05:06 PM
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pick the right vegetables that need full sun, use a quality organic potting mix that will also help retain the water needed for growth while draining the rest and small pot screens over the drain hole to keep soil in while allowing drainage, use pots that are big enough for the vegetables you want (bigger is better) that also have ‘proper’ drainage and are light in color. water them on the strict schedule needed (more in hotter weather) and use quality fertilizers/minerals as needed….and as others have written find someone in your area that knows container planting ftw!!

Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
Our experience at one of those was sort of strange so we hadn't thought about going back in…
sounds familiar for you….
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Old 06-07-20, 08:58 AM
  #11  
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Safe to say that nobody is home in the afternoon before they wilt? I've seen nothing but good advice here. I did quite a few rooftop gardens in my last position, and am a wholesale grower now. 10-30% shade cloth can make a huge difference, but ideally you would only use it in the early afternoon into the evening. I'd also drill several small holes spaced on the bottom of your bucket, and then during your morning routine, flood your containers once, and then come back and flood them again, ideally 30+ minutes later. Next time you make one, you can add thin landscape fabric or window screen to the bottom if the soil bothers you, but some loss is to be expected and drainage is always a good thing. Salts are probably building up excessively in your buckets and will only worsen any burning. You can also mist the foliage as long as it will dry within a couple of hours, which slows transpiration. If almost any plant's foliage stays wet for several hours/day, it's going to have fungal issues.

Your best bet for the future would be using large planters. But, there is one trick we used that seemed to work pretty well in my last landscaping position: floral foam. Not the hard stuff they use for fake plants, the super absorbent green blocks or discs. The most common brand is Oasis. We would put usually 2 layers of discs, (which are about 5" diameter and 1" thick) towards the bottom of the pot, being sure that you're not completely blocking drainage. It's soft enough that roots will grow right past it, but it holds more water than the same amount of any media except maybe pure silt or clay.

Edit: Also, you can try using some sort of top-dressing around the base of the plant, covering the soil surface, without completely suffocating the plant. Air blowing across the top of the pot speeds up moisture loss quite a bit

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Old 06-07-20, 03:20 PM
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Our season has been really off as far as temps. Very cool, even now. This week is really about the first one that we are seeing low 90's. The lettuce was due to come in this weekend anyway (45 days) so we pulled it and ate some earlier on sandwiches.
It seems like part of the reaction may have been going from the cool days to the first get really hot day. I have not seen the plants do the wilting to the degree they did when I asked this. I have been alternating a bit with the umbrella as well. Haven't gotten the cloth yet, as we had a plumbing project and other things ongoing for the weekend.

Thanks to everyone for the helpful suggestions and knowledge. Luckily we don't have much involved in what is going on, but some fresh off the vine beans and tomatoes are going to be superb. The big surprise at this point is how well the squash are doing. If even 1/4 of the fruit that we have had flower for come in, we are going to have a mess of it. There are three plants each of three varieties of squash/zucchini and probably 50 flowers between them all.
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Old 06-07-20, 08:35 PM
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Old 06-07-20, 08:36 PM
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Old 06-08-20, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
Interesting.

I live "right up the road" from their experiment station in Griffin, GA. We found it quite inventive that they are using one of the super inflatable wavy guys in their vineyard to keep critters away. They are not super cheap, and we really wonder how they are powering it way out there.
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Old 06-10-20, 03:45 PM
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As mentioned above a lot of plants wilt in the heat but perk back up when things cool down and their evapotranspiration decreases. They should be fine. While a container garden will need more frequent watering than in ground it would be good to check to see if the soil is actually drying out in the afternoon.
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Old 06-10-20, 04:07 PM
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Thanks for checking in. Haven't had any really significant problems with it again. Have pablanos, beans, limas, and eggplant going, along with what I hope will be my first tomatoe sandwich next week....mmm. The squash are blooming like crazy as are the rest of the peppers. Might even get a cuke.
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Old 06-13-20, 09:09 AM
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Squeeee!!!!

Got beans coming in, just at ready for pickin'. Got a big old juicy looking 'mater...and a (couple) poblano that should be ready in a few days.
I think the squash have more flowers right now than leaves.
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Old 06-13-20, 05:23 PM
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Your garden is a lot further along than I had imagined from your first post. Sounds like it is doing great!
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Old 06-14-20, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
Your garden is a lot further along than I had imagined from your first post. Sounds like it is doing great!
Everything is smaller that I would have expected, but is producing. For instance our tomatoe plants are ~3-4' tall instead of 6-8' like some friends doing a similar thing.

We have squash and eggplant now too. The jalapenos have flowers.
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Old 06-30-20, 07:07 PM
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We got a good enough harvest of beans over a week span for a great pot. The variety we grew last time seemed to just keep on producing. It appears that these are pretty much petered out.
I got two fresh jalapeno yesterday. I haven't been brave enough to try one quite yet. My tomatoe won't ripen in, but it's HUGE. I am very protective of it from bugs and such. We have around 8 eggplant, I have a good size poblano, but not sure to tell when ripened enough. It's not as big as I want yet but may be all I get for being in containers. We have a great deal of squash and zucchini coming in, and some cukes. The lima beans are doing well also, but not sure we have enough to amount to a full serving. All in all as of now have about 15-20 tomatoes at various stages of green.
We followed some of the great advice and reading offered here and it really helped a lot. In our own case mulching in the pots, raising the umbrella for all but rain, and a slight re-arrangement of the way they took in sun helped tremendously.

As a side note we have a wonderful crop of peaches about to come in as well, if I can keep the squirrels out of them. We made some deer spray we found online and it works quite well against them. As to the squirrels I am relying on projectiles.
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Old 06-30-20, 10:56 PM
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Frequent watering and well draining are huge... letting any water stand in the pots is a recipe for fungus. Shade cloth is a great idea, along with proper placement... let those plants have all the morning and late afternoon sun possible, just position the shade cloth to temper the direct overhead sun.

You can use a timer and micro emitters to give unattended frequent waterings... but avoid "always wet," unless you are growing rice.
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Old 07-15-20, 04:02 PM
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So...update to the garden. We got and still have quite a few jalapeno coming in, they are doing really well. Not very hot. The pablano that I did next to them were considerably hotter, had a couple of those come in.
The green beans, as mentioned before, had a pretty good production early on and then just withered away so we eliminated them.
The squash of yellow and zuc varieties produced a couple. The zuc's had a couple of nice sized come out. All the yellow were small colorful and flavorful. They will have to be planted less to container next time for better results there.
I finally got my one big lionheart tomatoe. It will be a sandwich tomorrow. We have a load of other types of tomatoes coming in so I am excited about those.
The lima beans are doing well but it's far too few vines to produce a meaningful serving.
We have gotten a couple of small but tasty cucumbers.
The eggplants are, well, hard to tell what's going on. They will need a bigger container for sure. Small but tasty ones have come in but I think the last few are going to be too stunted.

As a side note and through a whole lot of effort and guardianship we got about 25 or so of the first peaches ever from our tree. They are SUPER tasty, if small, and I am having hell keeping the squirrels, possums, and deer out of them. I have about five left (it was six this morning) that need to ripen in a day or two more.
Our pears are hard as a rock but turning red little by little, so if they survive the onslaught we might get to try one this year.

We are looking to plant a pumpkin or two in a bed off the porch after the sprouts grow some. Honey wants to do some taters too...
Been really fun and time filling if nothing else, and a couple of really nice meals have come of it, if exorbitant in cost/effort.
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Old 07-15-20, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
So...update to the garden. We got and still have quite a few jalapeno coming in, they are doing really well. Not very hot. .
Fantastic!

Many of the readily available Jalapeno varieties have been bred to be mild. Check out this database:
https://www.chileplants.com/search.a...=&ImageHeader=

I did a Jal search. But use this database with many search options even if you don't buy from CCN. (Years ago I did but they ship too late for AZ spring planting)
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Old 07-15-20, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
Fantastic!

Many of the readily available Jalapeno varieties have been bred to be mild. Check out this database:
https://www.chileplants.com/search.a...=&ImageHeader=

I did a Jal search. But use this database with many search options even if you don't buy from CCN. (Years ago I did but they ship too late for AZ spring planting)
Thanks. We had read that putting in jalapeno alongside other peppers had a tendency to make them hotter. I would have to say that the poblano we are growing are pretty spicy, but have known some of their variety to be so.
I have so many of them that aside from using for general cooking, I have been cutting and pickling some too. They are great with a turkey burger and cheese...
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