Gardening Adventures

Lessons Learned From Planter Gardening This Season

Gardening is a mix of science and art. It’s possible that you can carefully craft the perfect garden space with optimal soil nutrients, ideal sunlight, and a well-timed watering system and have nothing go as planned. Even the best gardeners experience challenges during the growing season, and sometimes they have complete garden fails. Gardening is a learning process for everyone, not just a product, which is part of the appeal.

It’s also comforting for beginning gardeners to know that even the most experienced gardeners still have their obstacles to overcome. Many of the pros live by the philosophy, “If you’re not killing plants, you’re not stretching yourself as a gardener.”

Our CedarCraft team field-tests each one of our planters during the gardening season, growing a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers in the process. You can see how our own gardens grow on Instagram as we share photo updates throughout the year. Rest assured, even though our garden may look beautiful, we experience our own challenges too. We’d love to share some lessons that our Colorado team learned from the 2015 gardening season.

 

Weather

This is one of the biggest hurdles for every gardener around the world, and it has been since the beginning of time. Floods, droughts, cold snaps, high winds, and hail are all elements that can wreak havoc on your garden.

Our Colorado team had an exceptionally wet and cold-ish May, right when the planting season began. It was a little too much for the cucumbers to bear and we lost them all.

 

Lesson Learned: Patience is a virtue, especially in gardening. It’s better to wait a little longer than jump the gun when planting your starters to make sure they have a good chance of establishing roots.

 

Soil

We spent a lot of time on procuring the right mix of soil for all of the planters this year. What we found was with that particular mix, our tomatoes flourished and thrived in the ground planters, but our spinach and lettuce greens needed a little more help with the same mix in the Urban planter. We had to switch out soils in that planter, and once we did, the spinach grew like wild!

 

Lesson Learned: Ground planters with sturdy plants do well with the soil mix we wrote about earlier this year. The Elevated planters will do better with a softer container soil mix.

 

Water 

We did pretty well with keeping up on our watering cycles this year! Nothing dried out or wilted… until we went on vacation. Summer is a time to enjoy vacations with kids out of school and the warm-weather adventures at your feet. Our Colorado team went on a backpacking trip for a few days thinking that the garden would be OK. While there were cool temps in the high country, it was a lot warmer in the flatlands. We came back to find some of the plants drier than they should have been, which caused a few to bolt early.

 

Lesson Learned: set up watering systems if you can, and at the very least, have a neighbor or friend come over to water your garden while you’re on vacation. We have some exciting new developments with our product line in 2016 that will help you with this! Look for an announcement in January.

 

Pests

This may have been the biggest challenge for us this year above all else. Rabbits scaled chicken wire fences to nap in the cilantro, birds filled up on strawberries, squirrels pilfered the peppers, and bugs munched on kale and cauliflower. It was garden warfare despite our best efforts with all methods of pest control.

 

Lesson Learned: We’re still learning. We’ll see what we can do to lessen the likeness of “Mr. McGregor’s Garden” in 2016.

 

Unexpected Experiments

We had one planter that we lovingly called the “misfit garden” where we planted extra starters and companion planted plants that you’re not supposed to place next to each other. We didn’t have high hopes for this section of the garden, but decided to take the risk anyway to see what would happen.

There were some fails in there for sure, like the extra cauliflower plants not producing anything at all, but we found some unexpected success, like potatoes and pumpkins thriving!!

 

Lesson Learned: It’s OK to take risks! Don’t be afraid to fail, because you might just experience some unexpected successes. And sometimes those are the best!

 

Despite our own challenges this year, we came out of it with first-hand knowledge to apply in the 2016 growing season, and we had some delicious harvests along the way. We’re certainly looking forward to the gardening adventures that the next year will bring!

Planning Your Garden

Gardening is a treasured hobby for many people. It’s a way to relax, spend time connected to the Earth, all while providing a moment to breathe in the aromas of soil and flowers. It’s also a way to become food-independent, allowing people to grow their fruits, vegetables, and herbs on their own – the way they want it grown.

However, that’s not true for everyone! Gardening may seem intimidating to others, especially beginner gardeners who don’t have the years of hands-on experience. People who’ve never started their own garden often say they have a “black thumb” holding the perception that there’s a steep learning curve to growing plants.

We’re going to help make it a little easier for you!

At CedarCraft, we’re big fans of the Square Foot Gardening concept developed by Mel Bartholomew.

Square Foot Gardening is a uniquely simplified system of gardening that eliminates 80% of the:

  • Space
  • Work
  • Weeds
  • Watering
  • Waste

Square Foot Gardening creates a planting grid within your planters with each crop having its own square. 

There are four spacing guidelines:

  • Extra Large fruits and vegetables are allowed one plant per square for 12 inch spacing
  • Large fruits and vegetables have 4 plants per square for 6 inch spacing
  • Medium allows for 9 plants per square for 4 inch spacing
  • Small fruits, vegetables, and herbs have 16 plants per square for 3 inch spacing.

You can use the seed packet to find out what spacing your plant needs. A tomato or green pepper plant needs one per square, while radishes and carrots need 16 per square. There are online planning guides that can help you map this out, too.

This system works perfectly with your CedarCraft planters. We’ve broken down the square feet in each one of our planters for you:

 

CedarCraft Cascading Planter

 

 

CedarCraft Elevated Planter

 

CedarCraft Urban Planter

 

CedarCraft Raised Garden Planter

 

Once you have a grid system mapped out, you’ll need to double check a companion planting guide to make sure your plants can share the same planter. Some plants don’t grow well together.

  • Beans: Don’t plant near chives, garlic, leeks, onions, peppers, marigolds
  • Peas:  Don’t plant near chives, garlic, leeks, onions, peppers
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower: Don’t plant near peppers, squash, strawberries, tomatoes
  • Tomatoes:  Don’t plant near broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, cucumbers
  • Dill: Don’t plant near carrots

 

You can follow our CedarCraft Pinterest boards for gardening tips, companion planting guides, and examples of what people are growing in their own Square Foot Gardens!