Sunday, March 15, 2009

Learning Curve

(The gynura plants rise like the phoenix from total decimation in our past freezes...they're all coming back, hooray!! And now let's see if alllll the other brown and crunchy things get the hint and follow suit...)

I've decided plants love to be in the ground. Yes, they'll grow just fine in pots (or buckets!). But I second the motion that my own plants seem to crave being anchored deeply in terra firma.

The thing is, they want those juicy worms, teeming things, microbes, volunteer seeds from elsewhere...they want nutrition and warmth and diversity from the ground up (at least that's my opinion just now).

With pots, we have to add many of those things from the top down, and yep, they'll do fine. But I've been noticing where they LOVE to be, and for most of them, they just look happy in-ground. So I'm trying to pass on some in-ground love to my container plants till they can be permanently sited in a home of their own where they can stretch and multiply to their hearts' content.

Here's how the potted things are adding up so far:

1. I learned I planted all the leafy greens way too close together in the "salad bar bins." The mustards are rugged and prolific, but crowded, and ditto for all the others. The lettuces seem to the ones that are more content with that living situation, but I still needed to sow the seeds much MUCH farther apart. Lesson learned. The radishes never produced because of the crowding, but the radish seeds Jack tossed onto hard ground where he's digging around on the lot next door...THEY were not overcrowded and are developing right on TOP of the ground, using their tap roots to mine for nourishment, and they are stinking hardy! Another lesson learned.

2. I need to nourish the container plants more. They don't get nourishment from anywhere else. We're doing some mixed plantings, of necessity. I pulled a lot of the overcrowded greens (they were stunted after their last "haircut") and let them lie atop the soil, and under planted them (sparsely!) with Roma bush green beans. I also did this for all the dead papaya plants in buckets and the crunchy shrubs in bins that we're not sure about surviving the freezes. I sowed some cleome here and there. We'll be making some manure tea and comfrey tea quite soon to feed the container plants with.

3. Sunflowers are hardy! They've hung in there and the one next to the horseradish seems unusually happy. I wonder if it's the combination, or the site? I'll keep an eye on it. If it turns out sunflowers love horseradish, that'll be an unusual future planting combination on a larger scale...

4. I hate to say this. It's not a's just what it is... I am tired of buckets. I'm ready for a sprawling section of green things and some beauty, and the buckets are not beautiful. They are, however, functional. I'll deal with it a while longer, but this impermanence of our own living situation will I hope give way this year to a permanent plan. We're simply not spending another penny on anything, and that includes gardening. The same goes with our time. Work and time together take precedence. Maybe I'm getting too old to be wonderwoman!

Ok, time to make do with what we have and get some of these wonderful seeds going. I'm sowing radishes here and there around unsuspecting plants and bushes since they grow better for me with some neglect than they do with a lot of pampering. We hope to put in a good-sized patch of bush beans (green beans and Romas) tomorrow, given the time and weather. We'll experiment with putting lines of topsoil right on top of the spread manure/woodchips, planting along those lines and hoping they do well...we have no way of turning it into the hardpan other than by hand just now, and we lack the time and brawn for it at let's see if the alternative works. Ah, experiments!

...and so go the babes in the hay as they continue to experience the learning curves and crave their own square 'o dirt...


Kathie said...

Gardening is such an adventure isn't it? I seem to learn something new most everyday in the garden. I'm terrible with containers mainly because I forget they need more fertilizing/compost and water than the stuff in the ground.

ChristyACB said...

I hear ya! Containers are used for overflow seedlings where there isn't room in the raised beds here and they never seem as happy as their planted brethren (or sisters) do.

But, we do what we must.

I also long for a nice long vista of green and growing things. Which means I probably should move out of the flood zone. :)

The Country Experience said...

As someone who has had to use buckets over the years, I feel your pain.

So now we've moved and I still have some plants in buckets while I wait to see what comes up where this year. It's amazing-- I have some roses that are 8 years old and still surviving in buckets! They may croak in shock when I plant them.

Hot Belly Mama said...

Tomorrow I plant strawberries in peat pots! Thank you for sharing, I just found your blog. Look forward to reading more!

Robbyn said...

Kathie, Jack seems to have the green thumb for containers...can't wait to see how he fares when we have some actual square footage!

Christy, lol my entire state is a flood zone ;-) Yes, even when we do have more space, we'll keep all those buckets for propagating things, probably trees. They'll always come in handy..just can't wait till I can hide them in their own little area :)

Country Experience...congratulations to having a place to spread out! If it werent for these buckets, we'd be a lot farther behind our learning curve for sure. A few things are doing well in them and we aren't sure how they'll fare on their own. My "rearranging the furniture" urges are really strong and that includes alllll those not so pretty plastic buckets...but no complaints :)

Hot Belly Mama, congratulations on your pregnancy! Ah, strawberries...yum! Welcome to the awesome homesteading community out here...there are a lot of links below on my sidebar...there are a LOT of places to explore!