bucket garden update

jonpalmer(7a)July 11, 2011

hey guys. my bucket garden has been doing pretty good in this insane oklahoma heat. I've been watering it every other day typically. Sometimes every 3 days.

my roma tomatoes were a complete bust because I didn't put nearly enough dolomite in the potting mix. they grew up big and healthy, bloomed like crazy before the heat really set in and all of the fruit had blossom end rot. bummer. I hear you can still eat the fruit but it looked pretty unsightly to me. I think I pulled off and composted a couple hundred half black mushy tomatoes. the heat we're getting now seems to be shutting them down now anyway. better luck next year.

Aside from (probably a rabbit) eating one of my basil plants, I haven't really lost anything. My cilantro and dill never worked out. Oh and my rosemary never sprouted (this is my surprised face).

Other than that, everything has grown well.

Okra: Loves this heat. Growing about 2 to 3' tall in 5 gallon buckets. I pick pods off like every other day. The fried okra has been great. Some of the pods I've picked have been enormous but they were still delicious even though they say pick them smaller. Some of my friends have even eaten them raw, straight from the garden.

Peppers: heaps of jalapenos and cayenne peppers. these plants are doing really well in 3 to 5 gallon buckets. I planted some serranos much later than the other 2 peppers. they're tiny but now hardened off and I'm hoping they catch up.

Basil: I have 10 basil plants that have already fed a big dinner of 10 with some yummy pesto. these are doing great in 2 gallon buckets. I've pinched them a lot and they're pretty bushy. I haven't let them flower at all.

Mint: All my mint is doing well in partial shade in self watering containers. I've used the mints and lemon balm to make many many mojitos. My catnip is huge and flowering.

garlic chive: doing well. I haven't harvested any yet. It was in a self watering 5-gallon bucket but I noticed it was hardly pulling any water up so I repotted it into a 2-gallon bucket.

Watermelon: 3 plants in 5-gallon buckets are doing well, trained up my trellis arch. I've had 4 melons so far. 2 split. Why does that happen? Is it the heat? The remaining 2 are about the size of softballs or a little bigger now. I have them in little torn t-shirt hammocks. Should I be pinching off the other vines to encourage the melons? Aside from training them up the trellis I've just been letting them do their thing. I've noticed the new flowers seem to be failing in the heat. Not a big deal. They're crimson sweet, so if they get anywhere near as big as 20 pounds that might be a bit of a burden on the trellis.

I grabbed a bunch of small new plants up in Ochelata at a great plant stand over the 4th. I'm hoping our growing season is long enough to see some results: cherokee purple, eggplant, amaranth, jelly melon, sugar baby watermelon, red okra, moonflower vine, elephant garlic and some mimosa pudica "shy plants" that are real happy under my lights.

I got some burpee "boxwood" basil that I've kept under the lights as well. It's super bushy and smells amazing. Have you guys tried these out? I'm thinking of making some pesto with it. The leaves are so tiny!

Pictures on Flickr.

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When I was a kid there was a song and it went like this......

"Well....my buckets got a hole in it, Yea its got a big hole in it, oh yea, my buckets got a hole in it, I don't work no more. "

Just a little ditty you can sing when you are out watering and harvesting vegetables. Too bad I can't give you the melody.

Looks a lot better, healthier, more productive and easier than some of the posts I have read on this site. I have some of those same types of buckets.......

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 6:20PM
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    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 6:26PM
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That was Hank Williams? !! Well, I guess that shows my Country Western music ignorance, which is vast. That song came right into my head like a blast from the past when I saw the pictures. The plants looks absolutely healthy and just about the best I've seen in this impossible year. I'd call it a big success and definitely worth sharing as a good idea. I don't think anything short of a miracle will grow a decent tomato in this heat and I wouldn't even count that as a bucket failure.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 6:36PM
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owiebrain(5 MO)

Looking good! As I look at various bucket garden updates in different forums, then go out and look at the never-ending weeding I have to do, I'm considering switching to at least a partial bucket garden next year. LOL

By the way, I'm a Hank fan, too. :-)


    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 7:28PM
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joellenh(6b Jenks)

I dislike country music in general, but I ADORE Hank Williams. The man was a genius. I think I know most of his songs word for word.

Your buckets have plenty of holes in them (drainage holes) and they look FANTASTIC.

My container plants are my best looking plants this year as well, but I cheated and added some soil moisture crystals. I only need to water every 3 or 4 days and they look good. But I have spent so much money watering everything else this month that I can't buy no beer.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 9:41AM
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My love for country music stops sometime in the mid 80's I think. It's all about the old stuff to me. My goal this year was to make self watering bucket containers for the whole garden, but I didn't have enough buckets so I just made a dozen or so, and the rest of the buckets just have 20 or so holes drilled into the bottom with a 1/4" bit. It's worked out well so far.

I'm pretty hands on and try to water each bucket with just as much as it needs, but ideally I would like to have water reservoirs for each bucket, with no water and nutrient loss out the bottom. Next year I'd like to hook it all up to a siphoned irrigation system leading to barrels and collect as much rain in the spring as possible.

My goal eventually is to spend zero money on water and soil...if that's possible. And see if I can continue to scale up from there. All the containers were free and most of the plants came from seed so that's a good frugal start.

I've only fertilized once too, when potting up the bulk of the garden. I really should throw the cash down for a little more. My plants would probably appreciate it.

2 more good things about the buckets: they seem to be inconvenient for rabbits and squirrels and I have literally pulled like 9 weeds all summer. there are so few weeds that I've even let a couple go just to see what sort of plant they would be. I have a little tree growing in my big elephant ear pot. it's kinda cute.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 12:33PM
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I'm amazed you're only watering every other day. By this time of year, I'm watering every day, and the plants are in 22 gallon yard bucket-dirty clothes bucket things.

Don't have as many good things to eat, either! lol

Do you think the difference is because the plants in my buckets are all more than a year old, with big root systems? Fig, violets, bunching onions, bay tree, sorrel, swiss chard, mint?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 10:39AM
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I don't have any experience with what you're growing, except for the mint. You might have a good point about the larger more developed root systems too. I'd like to grow fig and chard next year.

Also, my mints are in sub irrigated planters. They seem to draw up just what they need, and the rest of the water stays down there in the reservoir and doesn't evaporate, so that helps a lot.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 12:17PM
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Also, if my romas were worth saving (if they could set fruit in this heat and that fruit didn't have BER) I would probably be watering them every day like clock work. They're pretty thirsty.

I've composted all but 4 of them and reclaimed the still useable soil to use for other plants I need to pot up now.

I'm going to hang in there with the last 4 tomato plants and do some experimentation.

I'm considering lobbing off the healthy new green portion from two of them and putting them in water under my lights.

It would be amazing if I could save the healthy part of the plant, get it to root and ditch the stressed out mother plant during this heat, then plant the young propagated plant and get it to fruit with the correct amount of dolomite in the soil (so I can fix the BER problem) before the end of the season.

Has anyone tried something like this?

If possible I'd like to also keep the other 2 big romas alive through the heat and try to somehow address the calcium problem. I hear there's something you can spray on the leaves?

I dunno. It's all an experiment to me and it's really fun to try different growing strategies with different plants.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 12:30PM
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Thank you for answering, jonpalmer.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 7:03PM
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