Herb Rack Update

I promised to provide an update on our indoor herb planter once we got some real plants in it, which proved to a be a bit more difficult than I anticipated.  It took a while to find what I was looking for at the various stores in town and then several of the plants didn’t do well so I replaced them.  As you can see below that still didn’t keep a few of the plants from failing again.

I think they just weren’t getting enough full or direct sun to thrive.  There were a few that seemed to do ok.  The bay plant did pretty well and the sweet basil did better than the spicy basil.

After replacing several of the plants 2-3 times I gave up deciding that the location just wasn’t getting enough light for herbs.  I moved the remaining viable plants outside on the deck to a raised planter (which you may remember from last season) so they are still nearby for use when cooking or grilling, but stay out of reach of the dogs.

They seem to be doing pretty well out here, and both varieties of oregano have grown since I moved them out here.  The basil and bay have stayed about the same, I think just from the shock of transplant.

I’m a little bummed that the indoor option didn’t work out as I was pretty excited about having fresh herbs all year long, but I’ll be sure to preserve some of these so they can be used throughout the winter instead.  I’ve already got a new plan for the space in the dining room where the rack was – but I’ll have to wait until after our trip back east this fall to put it together.  I’ll be sure to share that once I do.  In the meantime I’ve filled the rack with faux succulents left over from another project since all the IKEA plants are now in use in other spots.  Find me on Instagram to see how it looks today.

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Growing Strawberries Vertically with Strawberry Straws

Yesterday I shared the progress our crops have made in the green house during it’s debut season.  You may have spotted a unique strawberry planter in the background of several of those shots.  Today, I’m giving you a closer look at how those went together and are performing.

We started with a simple 4″ black pipe that the Hubs added a cap fitting to one end and drilled holes in on one side.  He then fastened them in the two corners of the green house where we don’t have the hydroponic shelves using simple clamp bands.

Here’s how they looked after they were put together and installed in the green house.  He kept the bands loose enough that I could still pull the tube back out to plant it, which sure made planting them much easier!

I love that they don’t take up any floor space in the green house.  Their placement on the wall in the corners make great use of an awkward space that wouldn’t work for other crops.  And it keeps the berries from sitting on soil where they could spoil as they ripen.

Once they were planted I realized I needed a way to water each hole of the planter without washing away the dirt each time.  I’d seen several versions of these planters on Pinterest where they placed a second smaller pipe with drain holes along it’s entire length inside the large tube so water would seep out along the path of gravity.  I’ve tried this system before with other set-ups and not had great luck so I decided not to go that route.  Instead the Hubs helped me create what I dubbed ‘strawberry straws’ – simple PVC pieces tucked into each hole near the roots of the plant.

They were super noticeable at first when the plants were small, but as they’ve grown the white ‘straws’ start to blend in with the flowers on the plants themselves.  And as you can see they are working great!

We’ve now got two of these vertical planters in the corners filled with strawberries and are starting to see blooms which give way to the developing fruit.  Hopefully we’ll have an edible crop to enjoy very soon!

And if they produce a decent harvest this year I may have the Hubs figure out how we can fit two tubes into each corner next season!  I’ll let you know when we get the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of our labor. 🙂

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A Green House Update

I’ll be sharing updates on the projects that have been going on while we were offline for the next several weeks.  So let’s jump right in with an update in the green house!  Temps were staying above freezing by mid-May so I went ahead and planted everything I could but kept it all in the green house as a safeguard against overnight frost.

During that time I tested out a DIY hack for heating the green house I got from a local gardening club – a crock pot of water!  It not only provided a bit of heat inside the structure it helped increase the humidity for the plants once I got things started.  It worked really well so I plan to do the same thing again next year, although we also picked up a small heater for next season at a garage sale recently.  I also ran a humidifier in the green house for several weeks to help the plants get off to a strong start.  That’s another little DIY I plan to do again next season.

Here’s how things looked at the end of May.  My much planned layout was working well – getting the food crops started and providing a bit of room for my flower pots to wait out the slow to arrive summer weather, including hanging baskets I put together myself with geraniums and lobelia.  I snagged the baskets at Lowes for just $5 each and they came with the coconut liner, so even with the cost of the plants and dirt they were a far better deal than the crazy expensive ones the stores and nurseries put together – most of which have color or flower combos I’m not keen on anyway.

The freebie metal bed frames I scored last season fit perfectly behind the tubs to serve as a trellis for the peas and green beans.  Since I could only get a couple of the plants along the back side of the tub I put a couple along the front as well and the Hubs cut me a couple extra pieces of heavy gauge fencing from some scrap we had sitting around to create a mini trellis for the other side.

I didn’t  realize just how much I had packed into this space until I started moving the flowers out to the deck and yard and suddenly had a lot more room – that is until the food crops really got going!  The Hubs installed a water barrel in the corner for easy watering and started putting together a hydroponic system for the tomatoes but got sidelined with our trip, so we’re just now finishing that project up.  I’ll share the details of that set-up soon.

Although not everything made it through the transplant and adjustment period, a good majority did and things are growing well now.  Here’s how things are looking now!

Not bad for our first season with the green house and learning the ropes.  We’ve already enjoyed peas and lettuce from our efforts several times and look forward to plenty more before the summer is over.  Tomorrow I’ll share a closeup look at the vertical space-saving strawberry planters we’re using and the DIY solution we came up with to water them, so be sure to check back.

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