container gardening

Mini Raised Bed Greenhouses for Sale

Look at these great greenhouses Eric Denice has built. We are offering four of them for sale this spring.  And can deliver them to you, too. We have used the same materials that go into our production greenhouses...6 mil plastic, hoops bent at just the right angle to shed water and snow, polycarbonate end walls, wiggle wire and extruded metal track for securing the plastic closed, and pipes that act as a "brake" for keeping the sides just where you want them. We are happy to give you a demo....or come and peek at ours that is all planted and growing along nicely.

You can roll up the sides, you can close it securely and easily, or even take the plastic all the way off once the weather warms up. The frame can act as part of a trellis system for tomatoes giving them a warm and dry environment as they size up, and then you can take the plastic all the way off and let them grow through the top of the frame. Just add a few horizontal lines of twine and, voila, instant tomato trellis!

Plants are nicely tucked in and cozy warm, no matter what the weather! You can easily get a 2 to 3 week jump on the season with this kind of season extension. The raised bed means that the soil is dry and warm long before garden beds, and the tight, plastic cover gives you warmth on cold nights. You can keep the sides rolled down on chilly, cloudy days, but it is best to roll them up a bit in the morning. It can get quite warm in there when the sun pops out. This type of greenhouse will allow you to harvest greens almost year round. It can also be used as a spot to start seeds, harden off plants, and gives you an extra zone of warmth if you would like to grow a perennial that is not usually hardy here.

We can deliver, bring you soil, plants, and have your instant garden ready in just an hour or so! Just add water.

Dimensions: 4' by 10' 

Base boards are made of 2" by 10" hemlock

Price $425

Cabin Fever Gardening

It's the dead of winter and the weather has been...well, let's not even talk about it. The seed catalogs have poured in, they are lying all around the house, tempting us with dreams of future sunshine, dirt under the nails, baskets of produce, and all those things we are deprived of in these short, dark days.  Here are a few things I like to do to get through winter. I would love to hear other people's coping strategies, so please share your thoughts on cabin fever gardening. For one thing, meditate. Not necessarily in a formal way, but just sit still. Imagine seeds, roots, and bulbs that are buried deep in the frozen earth.  This period of short days is necessary in the life of a plant. It is a time of dormancy and rejuvenation, for plants as well as for humans. Rather than fight the dark days, embrace this as a time of year when you get to slow down, evaluate, and regenerate. I love that, because of my work, my life can follow seasonal rhythms to a certain extent. Winter is when I plan, plot, analyze, and restore.

 

Next, look for signs of green. As the days slowly lengthen, find a special shrub or tree to study on a regular basis. We have a row of willows along the edge of our property, and I love to check out the progress of the softening that happens very slowly, and then after mid-February, it speeds up a bit. The buds begin to swell, the color of the stems changes ever so slowly and slightly. Because plants are our best teachers, we can be the best students of plants with simple observation.

Focus on your houseplants. At our house, we neglect these poor plants all summer, but try to baby them a bit in the winter. Careful watering, cleaning, fertilizing as needed, potting into bigger pots, moving them around...these are all tasks we never have time for the rest of the year. You can also try your hand at propagating your own house plants. It is a great way to learn about plant physiology, and it gives you new plants as a bonus. Think holiday gifts for next year!  There is a great series of 15 short tutorials on You Tube that will teach you everything you need to know to multiply your houseplants. Ask friends for cuttings from their plants, diversify your own collection and learn about the various ways that all types of plants root.  Again, observation is key here, and the lesson learned in plant physiology will transfer to and inform your practical gardening knowledge outdoors.

Grow some sprouts.  There are great resources locally and on line. Here are some suggestions.

 

 

 

Grow some greens and shoots. You'll need a grow light, otherwise, things will be leggy and less nutritious, even in a south facing window. You will also need some trays with drain holes, about 2 inches high, some good potting soil, and some good quality seeds. You can sprinkle seeds onto the surface of the soil, press down, and cover with a very thin layer of soil. Press down again, and water very gently and evenly. Try these crops for a quick 3 weeks to harvest: arugula, tatsoi, mustard greens, boc choi. If you are willing to wait a little longer, in 5 weeks, you can harvest baby lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, cilantro, or dill.  The trick here is to stick to varieties that grow quickly. You can only cut them once, the light will just not be strong enough for them to grow again.  Here are some instructions for growing pea shoots.

 

You can do this so easily in any kitchen and it is a great way to add some fresh, living foods to your winter diet.

Hope this helps, and don't hesitate to get with us on facebook, twitter @redwagonplants, or leave comments here. We really want to hear your winter gardening habits, tricks, trials, and successes.

Jo Ann Gardner comes for a visit

From Julie.... There are a few garden and farm writers out there that move me to no end. I have had a fascination with homesteading literature since I was a little girl and still to this day I love to pour over books, catalogs, websites and blogs that have to do with growing food, living off the land, making do with things that are around the house, etc. Within this genre, one of my absolute favorite writers is Jo Ann Gardner.

She has written eloquently about the plants she loves for decades and I have poured over some of these books countless times. She and her husband were once back to the landers in Nova Scotia, far off the beaten path, and were able to make a livelihood for themselves in a very short growing season and on very challenging soils. Her writing reads like a series of love letters to a set of handsome, rugged plants that got them through tough times. I am absolutely honored to have Jo Ann visit our greenhouses this Saturday and to share some of her plant knowledge with us. She now lives across the lake, in Essex, NY and is active in gardening efforts at home and at a local senior center. Her talk on Saturday will focus on how to use herbs in pots and containers around the home. I am sure she will bring along her wit, thrift, and cleverness and we will all be a little richer for it.

Brown Dog Books  in Hinesburg is carrying her books, and they will set up a table at our greenhouses on Saturday for those of you who may wish to purchase one or two. But be warned - Jo Ann's writing will fuel the fires of any gardening addiction. Also present on Saturday will be Jess Bongard, of Sweet Lime Cooking Studio. She will be bringing us some herb treats to sip and snack post-workshop. Coincidentally, Jess is teaching an herb class in her home kitchen on Sunday. You can read about it here. A group of us are going from Red Wagon, making it a party, I am sure.

I like June. The bulk of the spring planting is done. The porch is swept off, and it is just the right time to sip a lemon verbena iced tea, make a lovage and butter sandwich, and gaze lovingly at all the herb pots surrounding the patio. I hope to see some of you this Saturday. Psst...there are only a few slots left, so please call or email to register.

FAQ #11: What soil should I use in my planters?

Vermont Compost Co.
Vermont Compost Co.

Although it’s tempting to think you’ll save money by using garden soil, you won’t have as good success because garden soil does not hold moisture as well as potting soil. Proper moisture is essential for container plants because they dry out more quickly than plants in the ground. Using a high quality potting mix will ensure that the soil holds moisture and that it has the nutrients your plants need.  At Red Wagon we grow all of our plants in a great organic potting soil called  made by Vermont Compost Company. We also sell a variety of Vermont Compost Company products in our retail greenhouse. A good, compost-based mix will ensure that your plants thrive all summer long. Long flowering annuals such as petunias, fuschias, and gernaniums can benefit from some additional fertilizer during the season.

FAQ #7: What are some easy-to-grow veggies for containers?

Most garden favorites can be grown in containers as long as they are provided with plenty of soil, good drainage, light, and fertility. It is important to remember that container plants require more regular watering than plants grown in the ground since their roots cannot seek out water by growing deeper. The same goes for nutrients - fertilize at least every two weeks during the growing season. Some varieties have been bred especially for container growing, such as the “Tiny Tim” tomato.  

  • Tomatoes should be grown one plant to a five-gallon bucket or similar container with holes drilled in the sides 2” from the bottom to create a water reservoir. Determinate varieties can use a  small stake, whereas indeterminate varieties need heavy stakes in the ground or screwed to the container.
  • Peppers and eggplants require are least 8 inches of soil, so choose a nice deep container for them. Staking is recommended for plants that produce large fruits.
  • Cukes, squash, and other vines can do very well in containers at least 12” in diameter provided there is plenty of room for their vines. Varieties with smaller fruit can be staked or trellised to save space.
  • Greens such as lettuce and spinach can be grown in containers, but it is more challenging because they prefer cool conditions. Try growing them in a window box where they will be in shade during the hottest part of the day and make sure they get plenty of water.
  • Herbs can very easily be grown in containers (since most are drought-tolerant)  and can be overwintered indoors in a sunny window.

Sweet Potatoes are Coming!

Cheryl says: I spent the Memorial Day weekend gathering containers, amending soil, watering, and otherwise getting my garden planted.

And now, with a few days of rain my plants are looking fabulous and happy, while I'm on a second mad search for containers so I can take advantage of the Sweet Potato Slip Sale this weekend.

A few of the things looking especially terrific right now:

garden skinny pancake 004
garden skinny pancake 004

Apparently a deer thought so too:

garden skinny pancake 014
garden skinny pancake 014

The Cherry Bomb pepper was full of flowers and now is setting fruit:

garden skinny pancake 008
garden skinny pancake 008

And the okra and pickling cucumbers are settling beautifully into their hanging bags.  I'm excited for when they start to vine.  The cucumbers are about to flower:

garden skinny pancake 011
garden skinny pancake 011

My next project is to get myself 4 containers and a bunch of Fort Vee for sweet potato culture, consulting thesetwo Julie-approved links.   More to come.