Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Containers for the 2012 Garden

Last season, I experimented with empty Tidy Cats containers for the garden. Like anything, there were plusses and minuses.

On the plus side, they are fairly tough plastic, have handles for carrying, and are a decent size (4-6 gallons, depending on the brand/size). They are big enough for most crops to do fairly well. We grew Abe Lincoln tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers in them, and all did okay (as I mentioned in the soil post, the cheap mix I used did not help matters any).

Last year's tomato patch using Tidy Cats buckets for Abe Lincoln tomato plants. Stylish? You decide!
On the other hand, there are drawbacks. Bright yellow cubes with the words “Tidy Cats” splashed across them might not be your idea of chic patio d├ęcor. You also have to wash them out really well in order to eliminate the perfume smell that lingers even in the empty containers. Of course, you need to drill plenty of holes for drainage, but that is a minor issue if you have a power drill. Painting them a more attractive color is a pain, because the decal is printed right into the plastic rather than stuck on, so you would have to paint over that as well, which is tough. If you aren’t prepared to deal with the raincoat yellow and bright blue color scheme and price is an issue, you’re better off just buying some black 5 gallon nursery pots for $3-4 a pop at your local nursery.

In a pinch, they worked. We had a steady supply that we saved up, and with a better quality soil and less crowding (but that’s another post!) they would be solid, dependable containers to use.

This year, though I wanted something more visually appealing for our new porch. Little by little, I began to buy containers each week. I eventually ended up with a solid collection for this year. The square 6.5 gallon planters were about $7 at Home Depot, and they are a nice size for most types of container veggies. I also picked up 4 of the black flexible 11.4 gallon “tubs” at Wal-Mart for about $6 each (I wish I had seen these sooner, since they were both cheaper and much larger than the square planters I had bought).

The 11.4 gallon flexible tubs (around $6 at Wal Mart)

The 6.4 gallon square planters (around $7 at Home Depot)

 The 11.4 gallon tubs are going to be reserved for tomatoes and okra. Most of the 6.5 gallon planters will be used for the cucumbers, eggplant, and peppers. I’m still debating how to allocate the container space, but that’s the fun part!

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