Sunday, May 6, 2012

Setting up the Planters!

Well, it has been a long, busy week (thus the lack of posts lately!) That said, we did take advantage of this gorgeous weekend to get a lot of work done on the garden!

Over the course of the week an awful thought slowly dawned on me: there were entirely too many containers on the porch! No matter how I tried to arrange them it looked cluttered. Part of my idea in getting all of these containers to replace the empty Tidy Cats bins was that it would look nicer, an advantage that would be nullified if by mid-July we had a tangled mass of green out there!

Finally I arrived at a two-prong solution. First, only the nicest planters would remain. I would arrange them to look good, and then everything we planted would have to fit in what was out there.

Second, I needed an elevated surface that would allow me to “double dip” some of the floor space. Many of the herbs and flowers are in small pots, which were previously scattered all around the porch in-between larger planters. What I really wanted was all the herbs in one place, both for convenience and for looks. With this in mind, on the way home from work Friday I stopped at Home Depot and picked up a few loose boards and some wood screws. My original plan was an 8ft long table that was 30 inches high. The height was chosen in order to allow a large number of plants to be placed underneath and still get plenty of full sun.

Halfway through I realized that the table looked much bigger than I imagined, so I sawed it roughly in half and it became a nice 4ft table! Since all I had was a hacksaw (one of those bright orange metal ones with big teeth), a level, a cordless drill, a tape measure, and some screws, I wasn’t worried about perfection. It just had to work. In the end, I was pretty happy with it; it holds quite a few plants, and it allows for a nice assortment of plants underneath to get plenty of full sun. Not bad for about $12 in materials!

The table for herbs and strawberries...the pinwheels are to keep the birds away from the berries
  After that, we filled all of the planters with soil. It took quite a few bags, but they are all pretty much full! Since we are using an upstairs porch, we did consider the weight of all the containers (particularly when they are wet). Just to test, I weighed one of the square 6.5 gallon planters that had just been watered, and it weighed in at 31 pounds. The large flexible 11.4 gallon bins weighed around 50 pounds each. As I mentioned before, a lightweight mix is key in this type of situation. I used Sta Green moisture control and also regular Sta Green mix.

One lucky thing for us is that our porch is built on top of a brick sunroom, so the entire perimeter sits on top of a permanent brick wall. You can see the same construction in the neighbor’s house in one of the pictures below. We placed all of the planters right along the porch fence, which is right over the center of the wall. This allows for the maximum amount of support. In addition, our porch is quite large (24 feet long by 8 feet wide), so the weight is spread over a fairly large area, rather than concentrated in one place.

Planter arrangement

Planter arrangement (other side of porch)
 If you are in a similar situation (upstairs porch) be sure to take the weight of your planters into account. Since these porches are built to withstand the weight of a foot or two of snow covering the entire flat surface (which is much heavier than the planters) we knew they wouldn’t be an issue. Also, it’s usually best to place anything heavy near the walls, as the structure will be strongest there (as opposed to the middle of the deck). In any event, if you are using an upstairs balcony/porch, make sure to take the structure of your space into account when placing your planters!

Here are a few pictures of the garden so far. Look for more updates in the very near future, including the promised entry on hardening off the plants for their trip outdoors!

Mesclun Mix
Mesclun Mix
Red Norland Potatoes


Flower/herb table

1 comment:

  1. Looks great J! I have a toolbox, small portable folding workbence and electric mitre saw that would make great additions to your frugal garden shop. See you guys Sunday! ♥