Felt Planters

We like to grow a lot. To the point where we’re running out of space. I realized we needed to take advantage of the endless vertical space we seem to have. After some experimenting and research over the winter, I designed a felt planter to hang on our patio to grow strawberries in.

SAMSUNG

I used EcoFelt which is made from recycled plastic bottles and stands up to the rigours of outdoor life. As the plants grow, their roots are air pruned as they reach the edges of the planter. The felt also helps retain water so the plants never go dry.

We bough strawberry plants from William Dam Seeds, about 25 root stock for $20, and within a few weeks the fruits have developed and we should be tucking into strawberry rhubarb pie very soon!

strawberry

 

There’s been a good bit of interest in these planters, so we’ve decided to put them online for sale on our Etsy store here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/154871760/felt-wall-planter-envelope

If you want a better deal and want to pickup rather than pay delivery, let me know and we can sort something out. If you time it right, you may walk away with some strawberries to munch on as well.

Indoor plant gallery

With a broken right hand (table saw attack, I lost), things have been a little slow moving in the garden outside. Doing everything one-handed is a little less precise as well (see poorly taken photos below). Even though I’m out of the game for a couple more weeks, it hasn’t stopped all of the indoors plants from going bananas (literally in one case). All of our seedlings are doing well, but they aren’t nearly as interesting as the below plants.

Something we grow an ornamental variety of every year is sweet potato. As tempting as the psychedelic tubers were to eat, our flower beds weren’t organic until this year and I think we would have stood a better chance of poisoning ourselves from fertilizer build up than getting high. This year we’ll be planting these edibles with the flowers for a late season harvest.

As sweet potato slips can be hard to find, I started our own in February by suspending some half tubers with skewers in jars of water. After a few weeks in a sunny window they produced some eyes which quickly grew into leafy slip vines once we transferred them to an artificial light environment.sweet potato Another interesting plant that I’ve failed at growing many times in the past is the pineapple. After some more trial and error and error and error, I found a way to get them rooting and growing. Although the below plant looks like it’s dying, it’s just the old growth dying back while more fresh leaves push out from the centre. Within 24-36 months, fingers crossed, we’ll have a couple of pineapple fruit. I think that we’ll have to hold a pineapple party for all the locavores to taste what they’ve been missing.pineapple

The next photo is a little hard to understand at first. At Christmas I was given a mushroom growing kit in a box. With the winter being so dry, it was impossible to keep the spores damp enough to grow, so we just left them. Now with the moist spring here, they’ve been growing really well.

mushrooms

Last fall I cut back our raspberry bushes and in my laziness, I left the cuttings where they fell, for the winter. Last weekend I started cleaning the garden and noticed that the cuttings, which were sitting on the ground, had green buds and cores. I cut them to manageable lengths and potted them. So far so good. raspberries Probably the best plant we have growing right now is our banana tree! This was a gift from my mother a few weeks ago that has almost doubled in height. Once the weather cheers up a bit, we are going to transplant this -25°C hardy plant right in the garden. Again, if we get bananas, we are having a party. Bring your monkey.banana

 

Complete Fruit & Vegetable List for 2012

This is the final list of what we will be planting this year.

Celery
Lettuce (various)
Artichokes
Tomatoes (cherry and roma)
Cucumbers (for pickles)
Cantaloupe Melons
Raspberries
Apples
Pears
Rhubarb
Radish
Garlic
Carrots
Snow Peas
Hot Peppers (cayenne, banana, jalapeños)
Potatoes
Beans
Hops
Mint
Parsley
Chives
Basil
Tarragon
Rosemary
Sage
Bay
Camomile (for tea)

Garden Plan

Last year was our first summer at this house and one of our goals was to get the gardens in order. The previous owners had put up a terraced garden with retaining wall in the back that was divided by stairs leading up to it. So far, it sounds nice, until you look at what they planted. There were various small trees (sumac, pine, and some unidentifiables), patches of random flowers, and a shed load of weeds. It looked as though someone had started and got distracted for a few years. Our first spring, with the help of my mother-in-law, we weeded everything. As the soil was very poor and full of clay, we brought in a few truck loads of triple mix to spread. The trees were cut down and uprooted (the pine was used as our Christmas tree) and we built raised beds so we could add even more soil. After our first year, we had the gardens under control and had quite a good harvest of various fruit and veg for preserving and eating fresh.

Now in year two, we wanted to really plan everything out to maximize our limited space. We sat down earlier in the week to decide what we were growing and where all of these plants were actually going to grow. The below drawing is the slightly out of proportion plan for this year.

Click for the REALLY big view.

We divided the back terrace into three gardens; the left for fruit and veg, the centre and right for flowers. When you sit on the patio you can see the flower garden in all its glory, while the frames and boxes of the veg are hidden out of sight. The flower gardens are half unplanned and we didn’t bother drawing in what is going where in that area.

If you look at the veg garden, you’ll see the five 4×8′ raised beds. This is where the majority of everything is grown. Outside of the boxes we have our raspberries from last year (already growing very well) and hopefully another rhubarb plant. Our neighbour gave us one last year, but the squirrels didn’t read the gift tag on it and assumed it was for them so the ripped it to bits and ate what was left. Also from last year are the three artichoke plants. They’ve been cut back for the winter and covered with tarp and straw, which has hopefully kept them alive until now.

All the lovely veg!

One of the most useful vegetables we grew last year was hot peppers. They were great fresh, preserved in vinegar, and in hot pepper jelly. In one of our beds we are putting in banana and jalapeño peppers for the aforementioned uses, but we also wanted cayenne peppers for hot sauce, so we needed to find more space. We tried to claim land rights to some of the neighbour’s back garden but after a lengthy court case, we were evicted and stuck with what we started with. Luckily, my mom was at a dollar store where they were selling upside down hanging hot pepper planters. Five of these hanging off the fence should produce enough peppers to make a good batch of hot sauce this year. Burning bums coming soon.

The chickens flanked by peppers and hops.

From the drawing it’s hard to tell, but our garage is two stories. With such height not being used, I ordered in some hops from BC to grow up the side of the building. Hops grow vertical, up to 30′, on lines strung straight up. To maximize how much we can grow, we are planning to do a criss-cross pattern to give us even longer vines, and, in return, more hops for beer making. A few years ago we were in England and my aunt was driving us past the hops farms. She was telling us about the plants and the Polish migrants that pick them. As neither of us had seen hops before, we asked “What do they look like?” to which my aunt replied, “Just like you and me, only Polish.”

All over the garden we have different planters and pots to hold long-term veg and invasive plants. A friend of ours is a furniture designer who creates her pieces with cast concrete. She had a few bad casts of a bedside cabinet that she was throwing out, so I saved them from becoming landfill to become filled with land. Once laid on their backs, the cabinets were perfect planters for mint, which is notorious for taking over gardens. I’d like to see it get out of concrete. Not really, I’d rather it stayed where it was meant to, in the planter, and in my tea. Another waste of space in the garden beds are potatoes. They take ages to grow, aren’t the prettiest, and require mounding soil over them every few weeks. To save using up space, we plant spuds in green tarp bags. The bags are cheap (dollar store), reusable, flexible, and you can simulate mounding by just topping up the bag with more soil. More on the potatoes as they grow.

Another big space taker is beans. We were originally thinking of growing them up the fence, but found an even better spot in the end; the patio. Our patio is covered by a proper roof that makes our outdoor space look a little like a Muskoka tiki bar. There is a mini wall on the one side that was never finished (past owners must have been distracted again) that we are building a bed to sit on top to hold our beans that will climb up cords to the roof. The bean stalks will act as a privacy/sun wall and supply fresh beans for dinner.

Bean wall. Not that we want to block out the neighbours, they're actually really nice.

So that’s the lay of the land, literally. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but when it comes time to eat it all, you remember why you did it. Also, for any hunters reading, you’re more than welcome to come over and kill every bastard little squirrel you see.

Dormant Spray on the Apples & Pears (stairs)

Last year was our first in this house and we were lucky enough to find we had an apple & pear tree (not the same tree, although that would be amazing to grow papples or aears). Our first year was a complete disaster! The pear tree developed rust and we lost all of the fruit, and the apple bore a huge amount of fruit, but they had rot all through. So to stop the disease and pests, we sprayed with Green Earth Dormant Spray (bought it at Home Depot).

Once the Lime Sulphur and Horticultural Oil from the kit were mix with water, I went around the trees spraying everything I could reach. The occasional breeze helped spread the pongy mix over my face a few times, but after 20 minutes or so, both trees were good to go (as far as I can tell). Hot tip: keep your mouth closed when spraying.

Has anyone used this product? Did it work? Any tips or tricks you found?

Hopefully within a few months we’ll be able to see if the spray has done anything. We do have one more trick up our sleeves for the apple tree which we’ll post later this week.