Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Last year's garden should have been named the Drought Bowl! So it's containers all the way this year!!!!

Just completed planting 3 container boxes (Garden PatchTM GrowBoxTM) and 1 City Picker Patio garden box with vaired tomato, bell and sweet peppers, Thai hot peppers, cabbages, strawberries, and leeks.

I plan to continue with the remaining 7 containers and plant some cantaloupes and watermelions along with some cucumbers, flowers and Ghost Peppers. The Grow Boxes come with organic fertilizer and soil cover which is pretty neat and saves time when filling the boxes and figuring out the proper mixes.

As for last year's garden plot, I'm working the soil with compost, lime, and the mix from last year's containers and letting it rest for next year. Will add other organic fertilizers as well throughout the year and set up a drip watering system for anything we will plant this fall.  

Last year I was able to grow 6 Buht Jolokia (Ghost Peppers)plants indoors in a large pot with some success. This year I am planting one container box  for the Buhts.

I want to make the peppers into sauces, dry  them and use them in my cooking and as gifts for my friends at the Aiken Farmer's Market and family and cooks in Bluffton, SC. My goal is to introduce the hottest peppers available and show how to tame it for "regular" eating.

Any experiences or recipes is greatly appreciated.


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Comment by Chris on April 24, 2013 at 3:49pm

My entire garden is done in containers (except for 1 Square Foot Garden and 1 Aquaponics setup that is still under construction).  Back in 2003, someone gave me an EarthBox, and that's what started it all.  Now I have a dozen Earthboxes and 5 DIY EarthTainers (built using free plans courtesy of Ray Newstead).

From my experience, container gardening is great for herbs and veggies. You can grow other things too, like fruit trees (I have a mango tree in one) but you won't get much so it's best to stick with culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, tomatoes, or flowers.

Containers that incorporate a cistern in the bottom for holding a reserve supply of water and wicking it automatically to the roots, are the best in my opinion.  With those types of containers though, you want to avoid using any potting soil labeled with "moisture control" as that's formulated for regular pots and can cause root rot.  If you mix your own soil, don't use very much spagnum peat moss.  It's also a good idea, when filling the container with soil, to put a layer of garden lime a few inches near the top, especially for acidic plants like tomatoes.

Comment by John F. Houpt II, PhD on April 24, 2013 at 4:00pm

Chris, Thanks for the information, especially about the moisture control potting mix. That was never mentioned in the instructions or even with the garden "experts" I bought the mix from. Ye Ha!

Would you mind if I incorporate your comment into the Container Gardening 101 blog with credit given to you for the information?  Or better yet, would you like to participate in helping me with creating this blog for Jennifer?

It's a step by step blog that will help those starting out or have experience with container gardening in various environments. Kind of a hybrid of a school lesson plan married with the brevity of an ongoing news article. 

Comment by Chris on April 24, 2013 at 7:28pm

Hey John,

Actually the tip came from Ray Newstead, the engineer who put together the EarthTainer Construction Guide (PDF).  I highly recommend that you look at Chapter 3 (page 12) of the guide where Ray gives his recommendation on the best potting mix to use in moisture wicking containers, based on his research.  If anyone deserves credit, it's him.  I've spoken to him before via e-mail - he's awesome.  In fact, after all the time and effort putting those DIY plans together, he gives them away for free and only asks that people donate to the non-profit organization Feeding America.  :)

Sorry, I made two mistakes in my last posted comment...

1. It's not potting soil that you want, it's potting mix (there's a difference).  A good mix should contain several different types of compost, some vermiculite, and a bit of peat moss for starters.  Personally, I buy the Miracle Grow potting mix without the "moisture control" as I've had good results with that product.

2. You want to use Dolomite Lime or Agricultural Lime (but not Hydrated Lime).  Whenever you buy an Earthbox, it comes with a bag of potting mix, a small bag of 6-8-10 or 7-7-7 vegetable fertilizer, and a small bag of Dolomite.  That's what threw me years ago as I had never heard of "Dolomite".  I figured it was some kind of exotic stuff harvested on a distant mountain, so I kept buying the replant kits from the company.  It wasn't until I found Ray's plans that I realized everything I needed to build and fill my own containers... could be found at Lowes.

Anyway, I don't mind helping. Although you should know I'm more of an editor.  I usually don't get  involved with 101's unless Jennifer bugs me first. :P



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