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Old 02-28-2018, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Denver/Boulder Zone 5b
1,340 posts, read 3,139,307 times
Reputation: 1280

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I'm a wordy guy, so bear with me. I love to talk and I particularly love to talk about gardening..

Oh my goodness, it's been a long time since I regularly patrolled the CD forums. My hope is to bring a season's worth of fun updates on my almost 100% container garden. Over the past couple of seasons I have prepared two very small in-ground beds - one perennial bed for purposes of establishing a Cabot strawberry patch and the other for annual leftovers I don't have the heart to get rid of. Otherwise, other than garlic that I plant in a raised bed out front most seasons, I garden exclusively in all sorts of containers.

I posted at length in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and gave it a shot in 2017 and failed. That doesn't mean I didn't have a wonderful garden last season; quite the opposite, actually. I have linked the first 3 seasons below if anyone is interested in seeing how the garden has evolved over time. I'll just say I haven't become any less obsessed..

My 2014 Container Garden
My 2015 Container Garden
My 2016 Container Garden

Long range forecasts issued in February 2018 by the NWS for my area (Denver/Boulder Zone 5b) for this spring and summer are largely calling for 45-50% chance of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation pretty much April-November. March should trend cool and wet, which is good, because our winter so far has been very dry and rather chilly the past few weeks.

We are supposed to have highs this coming weekend in the 50s and 60s, so it's time to get outside and begin the big spring clean-up very soon. First, before anything else, will be the removal of the root balls from last season's tomatoes and peppers from my Earthboxes. They have had sufficient time to break down and should be very easy to remove assuming the soil isn't still frozen 3-4" down. We'll see. After that will come the refreshing of the soil of several dozen other containers who have sat out all winter long. Dump 'em in a wheelbarrow, add water, mix around with a pitchfork and re-pack the containers. It's a ton of work, but must be done each season.

I have decided to end my love affair with the 5-gallon self-watering buckets. They were AWESOME the first 3 seasons, but with time and experience, the Earthboxes are better built, withstand our very harsh sun better (i.e. they don't fade and become brittle) and they produce more food in a smaller area. I would still whole-heartedly recommend them for small spaces or for people who are only growing a few plants. I have increased my Earthbox Original count to 18 and have also purchased 8 each of the Earthbox Juniors and Earthbox Root & Veg's. How many of those I'll be incorporating into the garden this season is in the air, but I hope to at least add all of the Earthbox Originals and 4 of the Earthbox Juniors. I still have 19 whiskey barrels that I also very much enjoy growing in because I can fit a surprising number of plants in a very small area - having deep soil is extremely useful. I just need to develop a better watering routine because doing it all by hand is not an option.

I will also be adding a Greenstalk Vertical Garden to the mix this season and am excited to try it out. It is a 5-tier model with 30 growing chambers. I plan on including mostly greens, herbs and micro tomatoes.

In the coming weeks, I will begin direct-sowing seeds outdoors, most under the protection of cover to aid in germination and protect from temperatures below about 20F. Plans include various looseleaf AND head lettuces, various cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, beets, various chards, several Asian greens, peas and maybe some carrots if I can get over my bitterness about growing them (don't ask, I don't even know).

I have already started a number of plants indoors under my grow lights. All were started at various times between 02/04/18 and 02/28/18. I have listed them below.

Micro Tomatoes (all heirloom):
  1. Birdie Rouge
  2. Floragold Basket
  3. Hahms Gelbe
  4. Mohamed
  5. Orange Hat
  6. Pinocchio
  7. Tiny Tim
  8. Vilma

Sweet Peppers (variety of heirloom and hybrid):
  1. Early Summer
  2. Early Sunsation
  3. Golden Calwonder
  4. Habanada
  5. Pepperoncini
  6. Quadrato d'Asti Giallo
  7. Red Knight
  8. Sweet Banana

Hot Peppers (variety of heirloom and hybrid):
  1. Anaheim
  2. Anaheim TMR
  3. Bhut Jolokia
  4. Cayenne Long (Red)
  5. Emerald Fire Jalapeno
  6. Flaming Jade Serrano
  7. Golden Cayenne
  8. Jalafuego
  9. Jalapeno Early
  10. Jalapeno Gigante
  11. Jalapeno M
  12. Lemon Drop
  13. Poblano
  14. Poblano L
  15. Serrano

Onions:
  1. Deep Purple (red bunching onion)
  2. King Richard Leek
  3. Tokyo Long (green bunching onion)
  4. Tropeana Lunga
  5. Zebrune Shallot

LASTLY, but certainly not leastly, below is my tentative list of tomatoes for this season (which still needs some amending by way of reduction). My goal is to grow between 45 and 50 plants, but in all reality, it'll probably be closer to 40. Varieties with an asterisk indicate a new variety for me. For those I'm growing again, I have included a brief reason why. I'll be starting seeds in mid-April for plant-out the Thursday prior to Memorial Day.
  1. 1884 (1-2 plants) - Very large pink beefsteaks with meaty flesh and little juice. Very few if any blemishes. Extraordinary productivity given average fruit size.
  2. Amana Orange *
  3. Amos Coli *
  4. Aunt Ruby's German Green *
  5. Aussie - Beautiful fluted, flattened beefsteaks that are dark pink to brilliant red. Absolutely delicious. One issue I had was that many fruit had large cores, so not always the best for perfect slices.
  6. Barnes Mountain *
  7. Big Beef (1-2 plants) - Produces consistently large crops. Not my favorite tomato for fresh eating, but is reliably productive and great for processing.
  8. Big Zac *
  9. Black Beauty *
  10. Bonny Best *
  11. Bush Early Girl (4 plants) - Perfect size for medium-sized containers. Produces loads of 5oz fruit that are great for sandwiches and salads. Has been a reliable producer for me since 2015.
  12. Celebrity (2 plants) *
  13. Cream Sausage (2 plants) - Awesome little yellow/cream colored tomatoes that have a mildly sweet flavor and makes a beautiful and interesting sauce.
  14. Dad's Sunset *
  15. Dester *
  16. Dr. Wyche's Yellow - So far my favorite yellow/orange variety. Incredible sweet flavor. Consistently produces large fruits and plenty of them.
  17. Dutka's Pink *
  18. Earl's Faux *
  19. Early Girl VFF - One of your standard medium slicers, perfect for sandwiches and gifting to hungry coworkers.
  20. Giant Belgium *
  21. Golden Girl *
  22. Grandpa's White Wax *
  23. Green Moldovan - Very sweet, very juicy, very productive. Not a good keeper - should be eaten quickly after harvest. Makes a VERY interesting and delicious sauce.
  24. Harless Creek *
  25. Hillbilly *
  26. Kosovo *
  27. Krasnodar Titans (2-4 plants) - Amazing shelf life - often stays firm and fresh for a week or longer. Very meaty with almost no juice, few seeds. A great variety for pico or salads.
  28. Manyel *
  29. Martha Washington *
  30. Mr. Underwood's Germant Giant *
  31. Nicholajevna Pink *
  32. Orange Banana *
  33. Palestinian *
  34. Pamyati Korneeva *
  35. Paragon (1-2 plants) - Similar to Early Girl. Gorgeous, perfect red 5-6oz tomatoes with few if any blemishes. A good sandwich tomato.
  36. Rowdy Red *
  37. Stump of the World (2 plants) - My favorite pink beefsteak of all time (plus it's kind of a great name). Produces large crops of medium-large meaty tomatoes. A must grow.
  38. Tuxhorn's Red and Yellow *
  39. White Tomesol *
  40. Yaqui (4 plants) - Similar to Krasnodar as far as long keeping. These are large and meaty Roma-style tomatoes that are very thick-skinned and perfect for applications where you want less juicy tomatoes. It is the only variety in my garden the past two years that got BER which is why I am planning to grow 4.

Okay, so that's where I'm at for the start of the 2018 growing season. I'll be adding a few things to the lists as everything becomes finalized. I have no good pictures to share right this minute, but will post some in my next update in about 10 days. That should allow my starts to get some size (i.e. become photogenic and camera-ready!) and me some time to get some outdoor work done and seeds planted.

I hope everyone else is as excited about this season as I am! It's going to be an amazing season and I can't wait to read about what everyone else is doing!
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Old 02-28-2018, 08:50 PM
 
Location: Nantahala National Forest, NC
17,419 posts, read 3,547,315 times
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Wow....you are likely way past most of us with your plans...

right now, planning for only one tomato plant and one cucumber plant...and many fresh herbs...
sounds pitiful next to yours...I might add others, depends on how many containers I can find...all my gardening now is in pots...amazing what you can raise this way.


In the past have had huge gardens. Miss it...

Glad you are so excited, it's a wonderful, productive activity! Quite therapeutic...

BTW...do you can tomatoes? Or what do you do with them all..?
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Old 02-28-2018, 10:20 PM
 
Location: Denver/Boulder Zone 5b
1,340 posts, read 3,139,307 times
Reputation: 1280
Hey there gbh!! You know, I'm growing what I can while I can. I'm still young and able to have a relatively large garden. I don't want to wish I would've done it when I could've and regret it. I enjoy it very much and it is certainly therapeutic! Nothing better than coming home and picking dinner after a long and stressful day at work.

My garden is likely to include a lot more tomato and pepper plants this season than last. My goal last year centered on preserving enough food for my family for the entire year, so I focused heavily on canning/dehydrating tomatoes and freezing/dehydrating peppers. I was able to can up 110 pints of crushed tomatoes and dehydrate several gallon sized freezer bags of tomato slices, along with more fresh tomatoes than we could eat. I shared some, but we ate most ourselves. I dehydrated most of the peppers and ground them into powders and flakes. I kept several jars of each and gifted several to family.

My goal this season is sort of the opposite. I still plan on canning crushed tomatoes (I think we still have about 60 jars) and dehydrating peppers, but I also want to share a lot of fresh produce. I have several new coworkers who are very interested in getting into gardening, so I figure what better way to encourage them than to show them what they can grow. I also got into trouble for not sharing any pickled hot peppers last season, so I plan on doing quite a lot of that this season, as well.
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Old 03-01-2018, 07:07 AM
 
2,692 posts, read 1,771,653 times
Reputation: 5099
Hiiii!, Nickman! Every time I come here, my jaw drops.

This year, we're gonna try collards and/or kale. We used to grow collards; can't kill 'em with a stick.

Last year we had Swiss chard, which did very well, and I love it. Maybe it's time for another earth box for greens?

What did poorly: carrots, radishes. No more wasting space on those.

Potatoes are getting one last try. But then I say that every year.

I want a Cubanelle, and a semi-hot penner. The third pepper is up fpr grabs. Every pepper we try has done well.

String beans, of course.

Tomatoes? I want more. Hoping to find blacks this year. Bear in mind, we have next to no sun. And must buy seedlings, apart from beans. Waaah.

Looking forward to spring.
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Old 03-01-2018, 07:23 AM
 
Location: Near the Coast SWCT
64,993 posts, read 47,321,826 times
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Nice! Looking forward to your season with you. Good luck. Hope mother nature cooperates. What's nice about containers is that they warm up faster so you can start outdoors sooner I think.
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Old 03-01-2018, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Nantahala National Forest, NC
17,419 posts, read 3,547,315 times
Reputation: 22631
Quote:
Originally Posted by NickMan7 View Post
Hey there gbh!! You know, I'm growing what I can while I can. I'm still young and able to have a relatively large garden. I don't want to wish I would've done it when I could've and regret it. I enjoy it very much and it is certainly therapeutic! Nothing better than coming home and picking dinner after a long and stressful day at work.

My garden is likely to include a lot more tomato and pepper plants this season than last. My goal last year centered on preserving enough food for my family for the entire year, so I focused heavily on canning/dehydrating tomatoes and freezing/dehydrating peppers. I was able to can up 110 pints of crushed tomatoes and dehydrate several gallon sized freezer bags of tomato slices, along with more fresh tomatoes than we could eat. I shared some, but we ate most ourselves. I dehydrated most of the peppers and ground them into powders and flakes. I kept several jars of each and gifted several to family.

My goal this season is sort of the opposite. I still plan on canning crushed tomatoes (I think we still have about 60 jars) and dehydrating peppers, but I also want to share a lot of fresh produce. I have several new coworkers who are very interested in getting into gardening, so I figure what better way to encourage them than to show them what they can grow. I also got into trouble for not sharing any pickled hot peppers last season, so I plan on doing quite a lot of that this season, as well.

Wish I was your neighbor, to share in your bounty.

Good idea to encourage gardening and growing your own food...nothing like summer tomatoes in the middle of winter!

Enjoy your planning (fun) and garden
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Old 03-01-2018, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,851 posts, read 51,316,975 times
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My wife and I checked into Earthboxes and found them to be too pricey for our taste. Instead, I modified Rubbermate totes (which often went on sale) by cutting a hole in the side about three inches up on one end, cutting 4" supports from PVC pipe to go inside, and then using hardware cloth on top of that. Rolled newsprint was used for wicking, and one of the PVC pipes was cut about a 18" high for adding water to the well.

They weren't as fancy as Earthboxes, but we were able to grow Malabar spinach and a few other veggies in south Florida, where nematodes and heat killed any veggie we planted in the ground. It was nice not to have to rescue flooded plants after the torrential downpours, or constantly water.
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Old 03-01-2018, 11:32 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
13,107 posts, read 17,646,574 times
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I'm not growing anything in tomatoes but hybrids this year heirlooms take too big of a hit and very lil production here . so I will go to the local market and pick up my hybrid plants . Now squash is a different story and so is cucumbers . cukes and squash do very well here despite the heat . Now I will put in as many flowers as I can I love helping the bees and the butterflys and feeding the wild birds they seem to love eating the bugs out of my garden in return .
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Old 03-01-2018, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Denver/Boulder Zone 5b
1,340 posts, read 3,139,307 times
Reputation: 1280
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonchalance View Post
Hiiii!, Nickman! Every time I come here, my jaw drops.

This year, we're gonna try collards and/or kale. We used to grow collards; can't kill 'em with a stick.

Last year we had Swiss chard, which did very well, and I love it. Maybe it's time for another earth box for greens?

What did poorly: carrots, radishes. No more wasting space on those.

Potatoes are getting one last try. But then I say that every year.

I want a Cubanelle, and a semi-hot penner. The third pepper is up fpr grabs. Every pepper we try has done well.

String beans, of course.

Tomatoes? I want more. Hoping to find blacks this year. Bear in mind, we have next to no sun. And must buy seedlings, apart from beans. Waaah.

Looking forward to spring.
I grew some kale last season, Non, even though I don't like it. I thought maybe I'd like it more growing it myself (you know, the whole "home grown is always better" mantra?).. yeah, I still don't like it. It was a very large, hardy, gorgeous plant, but I just don't like it. I am growing some this season, though, because a friend of mine LOVES it and does not have space to garden, so being the good friend I am..

My Swiss chard did very well, too, and it's so beautiful, isn't it? I'm amazed how delicate it seems, but it can totally handle heat, cold, rain, snow, frost. One of the toughest greens, for sure.

I know you love your beans!! I did grow 4 whiskey barrels full of bush beans last year - they did well early, but crapped out pretty quickly. I probably didn't harvest often enough or I may have had them crowded. I will likely plant a few this year, but only purple and yellow varieties so I can SEE them.

Good luck with your black tomatoes! I have really come to dislike them and I don't really know why. I'll give them a shot again another season, but this season is all about colors (lots of pinks, reds, whites, yellows, oranges and greens).

SOOOO looking forward to spring!! They keep upping the temperature forecast for Saturday - now they're saying 64F. Sounds PERFECT for spring maintenance!!
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Old 03-01-2018, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Denver/Boulder Zone 5b
1,340 posts, read 3,139,307 times
Reputation: 1280
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cambium View Post
Nice! Looking forward to your season with you. Good luck. Hope mother nature cooperates. What's nice about containers is that they warm up faster so you can start outdoors sooner I think.
As with you, my friend. They definitely warm up quicker, but they also cool down quicker! I never try to push too many boundaries with warm season crops.. like the soil to be nice and warm. With cool season stuff, I never worry too much. The seeds just sit until the temperature is right, then BOOM.
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