Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sustainable Saturday-Winter Thaw Surprises

Our back yard near Johnson City, in upstate New York, is a small yard, and a lot of it is shaded.  We only have a small spot with sun, which is mainly in an area occupied by a patio.  So, if we want to grow anything in our back yard in full sun, it has to be in pots.

We do grow geraniums, petunias, and a handful of veggies. (most of our gardening is done in a community garden.)


A few years ago, we bought two Earth Boxes.  The company is located near Scranton, PA (about an hour south of us) and I can highly recommend this product (noting that I am getting no compensation whatsoever for this.).  A lot of their business seems to be with schools, and I can applaud any company that brings gardening to young students.  As for our experience:

 This is a self-contained system - there is a pipe where you add water once a week or so, and it waters itself.  Behind the soil mix they sell and refill kits, you don't even have to add fertilizer.  Kits are available for both organic and non organic gardeners.

We have grown some nice peppers and eggplant, with less luck (for some reason) with spinach and with tomatoes.  Our peas this fall were planted too late and we got hardly any harvest at all, but that wasn't the Earth Box's fault.

 We do need to get a refill kit though - this last gardening season didn't work well for us.

Our snow is melting - it got to 49 degrees F (9.4 Celsius) today (!).  We have corn salad (mache) growing in one of the Earth Boxes - we had three plants survive down to 6 degrees above zero (-14.4 Celsius) without any protection other than snow.  This is the first time we've ever grown this green, and are curious to know how it will do the rest of the winter.  Maybe, with some protection (the box is right up against the house) it will be a good overwintering crop for us.

Not only did the corn salad surprise us, but also what we found in another pot -

Parsley.  Not enough to use, but I'm sure it will start growing a bit in early spring before starting to bolt. (Parsley is a bi-annual).

You don't need a big area to garden.  You don't even need to have a back yard with soil to garden. There are a lot of online sources of information for container gardening.  Start small, get comfortable, and you'll be surprised at what you can harvest.

Even in the middle of winter.



8 comments:

  1. This is great! My new apartment building is opening a 5th floor terrace.. I'm really trying to encourage them to keep it smoke-free and to let us grow something up here -- herbs works in my mind, chives maybe? I don't know .. but I'm certainly going to look into Earth Boxes!! :)

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    1. Years ago, I lived in an apartment with a terrace in Tampa, FL. I grew tomatoes and flowers on the terrace. (I wouldn't try tomatoes if they permit smoking due to possible transmission of tobacco mosaic virus.) I've grown basil and parsley successfully in regular flowerpots. Good luck!

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  2. I haven't tried container gardening yet (except for starting seeds to get a jump on the season), but it's on my list. Thanks for the tips.

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    1. You are welcome! Thank you for stopping by.

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  3. Ohhh....We had 2 warm days last week that melted the snow and muddied up the garden. I'm itching to get back out there, but it will be a few months yet! It's 12 degrees today!
    I soothe my gardening soul by knitting and quilting more at this time and cooking....Oh..and ordering seeds!
    Anne Dovel

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    1. Looking at seed catalogs does help the winter days pass quicker - and helps you to learn more about gardening. Have a good winter.

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  4. It is always amazing what you find surviving under the snow and popping up as soon as the days get at all warm. I have to say, I don't like this trend toward warm Januaries very much, though! We had about 14 inches of snow cover, all gained over Christmas vacation, and now it's almost all gone. I find it worrisome.

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  5. I've always wondered if those things really worked. Thanks for the post.

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