The Wordstress Blog

The Wordstress ponders the birds and the bees.

Our Pretend Farm February 22, 2009

I’ve learned a valuable lesson about trying to blog directly into WordPress. Sometimes things will go wrong and a lovely essay about food and knowing where it comes from and/or how it’s grown and spring and abundance and having immeasurably more than we deserve can just disappear. Poof! (a weaker version precedes this entry)

But that’s okay, really. I’ve got more words where those came from!

Today I built three earth planters using the plans found at Instructables. I’m very pleased, too…for the price of the brand name EarthBox I purchased last year, I built and planted THREE larger planters!

An earth planter is a self watering garden. Because the plants receive a steady supply of water and fertilizer around the roots, they grow faster than plants that depend on me to water them and try to remember to feed them now and again. I’m just not dedicated enough to water every day. Or even every other day, and I have never come up with a good system to keep me on track with fertilizer. But even I can handle just filling a water reservoir once a week.

Here’s what I did:

1. I took an 18 gallon Rubbermaid storage box and another one a size smaller. The boxes are the same size at the top but the smaller box is not as deep (and it cost less).
2. From the smaller box, I cut away the top half of the box.
I then turned it upside down so the bottom of the box was on top.
3. I cut a square hole, into which I inserted a pond basket, and a round hole, into which I put a piece of 2.5” PVC pipe that extended from the bottom of the box to several inches above the top.
a. The pond basket allows dirt to go down into the reservoir without leaking into it. Water “wicks” up into the dirt.
b. It amazes me that this really works…it’s the same principle as an African Violet pot where the water soaks up into the dirt through the unglazed clay.
4. I put this assembly down into the larger rubbermaid box. If you make these at home, be aware that you really need to maneuver the inside box into the outside box…it’s not like it slips cleanly into place.
5. At this point, I was sick and tired of working by myself. I went and got my beautiful assistant, Alex, up out of bed. Since it was noon thirty.
6. She had a headache but was very good natured about helping and even complimented me on my planting technique at one point. I am glad that it has only taken me 50 years to get it right.
7. We filled the boxes with my super secret potting mix (oh, alright, already, you know I can’t stand it when you whine! Mix approximately equal parts Jungle Mix and Black Kow, then put in some perlite to keep things nice and fluffy. I hope you’re happy now).
8. This is not really a super secret potting mix. I actually probably use a different mix every year. I like it that way.
9. Then we put a strip of Osmocote down the middle of the planter.
10. Then we put on the tops after cutting holes for the PVC.
11. Then we cut much smaller holes and planted tomatoes, cayenne peppers and green bell peppers.
12. At some point I realized that I had forgotten to drill holes at the top level of the water reservoir so I did that.
13. Then we filled the reservoirs (using the pvc pipe) and moved the boxes down by the fence where they will be easy to water.

This was a super easy project and I’d love to add another box or two every year. Alex will take two of these when she moves out. She has a bright green thumb and loves to muck about in a garden. Well, she’s come from gardening women on both sides of her family tree, so there you have it.

Last year’s earth box was filled with patchouli, thai basil and tarragon. The tarragon wimped out in about September but the rest thrived right up until the freeze!

This year, we have planted tomatoes, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, thai hot peppers and lemon balm. Alex is a little tomato freak so the tomatoes will, no doubt, be as coddled this year as they were neglected last.

Together we shored up her compost heap and she’s out back now trimming the podocarpus. It was, all in all, a beautiful afternoon. We put Janis, our escape artist Leghorn chicken, back in the run several times and may have actually found her escape hatch this time…we’ll see.

Tonight we’ll have roasted vegetables, a big salad, and grilled chicken for dinner. Not Janis (but if she doesn’t watch her step…..).

How does your garden grow?

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2 Responses to “Our Pretend Farm”

  1. Theresa Durrant Says:

    Pam,
    You should turn this piece into a garden magazine as a “how to” essay. It’s great. I love t he part about Janis the escape artist, and the part about having grilled chicken, and if she doesn’t watch her step…too funny.
    Keep on with the great writing…I may have to start one of these…see how they can turn into writing project inspirations?
    Theresa


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