Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Relocating Grow Bags to Better-Suited Conditions

This article is a follow-up to another about a lovely coffee table that we recycled into a table-tray. We put that table-tray on our second-floor porch to hold plants in grow bags and grow bag planters.

There are several benefits to growing plants on this particular porch:
  • It's cooler compared to the two protected garden areas we currently have.
  • It has various degrees of shading, as this particular part of the porch faces east.
  • Our chickens and other predators can't get to that area.
  • Our kitchen is on the same floor, so it will be practical to go out the door and pick food to prepare meals.
My grandson planted two pumpkin seeds in a two-gallon grow-bag. It's important to me to protect this plant for obvious sentimental reasons. So I decided to place it on the table tray to keep a close eye on it.

With summer heat in full force, it is time to do something about my lettuce. I grow lettuce in deep containers so that I can also grow carrots with it - they are great companion plants.

I bought a few baskets at the dollar store and lined them with landscape fabric.

I mixed my own potting soil using two parts peat moss and one part compost, plus Epson salt, ground up egg shells for calcium, and perlite to improve drainage and lighten the mixture.

In the top middle of the containers, I planted some lettuce seeds and surrounded them all around with carrot seeds. While the seeds need warmth to sprout, I was afraid that the hot sun would quickly kill the young, sprouted seedlings.

So I added all four of my homemade grow-bag planters - seeds and all - to the table tray on the porch. Here's a pic of two of them.

We only have two small garden areas that are protected from our chickens and other predators. My grow bag gardening area is behind the garage. It's a great place to grow plants because it is sheltered from high winds and storms. Plus, it's out of sight so my family doesn't bug me to keep it tidy.

Problem is, it's been getting too hot for my established ruby-red lettuce and carrot grow-bag planter.

In fact, when I checked my hidden garden this afternoon, I noticed that the sun had fried some of the leaves on  my established ruby-red lettuce. You can hear the crunching of the leaves in this short vid.

So I decided to relocate that plant to my porch.

The final plant that I added to my porch table tray was a blooming sunflower that I've been growing in a one-gallon grow bag. I'm hoping that the pumpkin flowers will soon bloom, so a sunflower will attract the pollinators to help the pumpkins grow.

Now to water the plants. I have been recycling plastic bottles for this. In the case of this larger grow-bag tray, I'm using a gallon milk jug to help automate the watering to keep the water at a consistent level. And the red cap serves to attract pollinators.

By poking a hole about an inch from the bottom of the bottle and by securing the lid, the jug serves to drip water onto the tray as soon as the water level gets low enough for the hole to make contact with the air.

Here's an example of how I poke the hole. And by the way, I heated up the knife on my gas burner to help pierce the plastic.

Here is another bottle with a hole on the bottom that I used to automate seedling watering.

After setting the water-filled milk jug into the tray, I inspected the grow bag planters to make sure the bottom made contact with the water.

And finally, I added rocks to the bottom of the tray to cover the water and keep mosquitoes from breeding there.

In summary, in this table tray, I placed:

  • My grandson's pumpkins so that I can keep a close eye on them;
  • Four future lettuce and carrot containers to protect them from the direct sun; 
  • A sunflower to attract pollinators; and,
  • A gallon milk jug to help automate the watering. (I still have room for another gallon jug, if needed.)

I envision that the pumpkin will vine nicely and can be trained to grow on the porch rail and even cover it. This should serve as more shade for the lettuce. Plus, I hope that the vine will add an aesthetic touch to be viewed by the neighbors.

The porch winds around to the north side of the house that gets more sun. Hopefully, after I find another way to hold more grow bags, I plan to place tomatoes, peppers, and herbs along there.

Any helpful thoughts about this project are appreciated as I am still a novice gardener.

Thank you for checking out this post.


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