Thursday, September 28, 2006

Buck Garden

Last summer, I planted a garden in buckets. It wasn't really in buckets, though. It was really in window boxes. I only call it a buck garden because my great grandmother used to plant garden plants in big huge multi-gallon buckets outside her house. So I affectionately called my garden a bucket garden, even though it was not in buckets. When I told my mom this, she thought it was great. She had remembered going to her grandmother's farm and seeing her grandma's bucket garden. She also remembered the great food that came from these buckets! So I hoped that my window box garden would be just as good!

I got about thirteen of these huge window boxes from Wal-Mart and about that many bags of potting soil. I thought that food plants would grow great in potting soil, and planting my garden in buckets would ensure that there would be fewer weeds and less animals and bugs to eat my pants than if I planted it in the soil behind my house. The window boxes cost quite a bit more than buckets would have, but I thought that it would be a good investment, because I would be able to plant rows of things and I would also be able to use these window boxes year after year in order to make great gardens where I lived. So I went ahead and bought them, even though they cost a little bit of money. My mom had offered me a bunch of buckets to use, but I decided to try the window boxes and see what I could get from them.

Next, I bought seeds. I wasn't sure what kind of plants would grow in window-boxes, so I got a little bit of everything. I didn't want to be disappointed with no food whatsoever, but I also didn't want to not know what worked for next year. I wanted this past summer to be a practice, and a trial run, to see what kinds of things would grow the best in my "buckets". I got every type of seed that I would have wanted to plant in my real garden, and I also bought a bunch of actual plants to help me along. I purchased quite a few tomato plants and pepper plants, as well as plants for the bigger things, cucumbers and zucchinis.

I planted one type of seed in each window box, in rows and left them on the sidewalk in front of our house. I made sure to take out the plugs in the bottom of the window boxes, so that the water would drain out of the soil eventually and I wouldn't flood out my fruits and veggies. I lined them up so that they were neat looking in front of the house, and also so that they were accessible from the garden hose.

I watered them religiously every single day, and I was sure to properly weed them and thin them as the plants came up. I was very diligent, and I worked hard to make sure that I was going to have a good harvest! I had to water my plants multiple times a day during this past summer, because it got very hot where I live. So, I watered them and I weeded them, and I waited for my plants to come up! It was easy to do, because they were in plain site, and I didn't have to go into the backyard, or get down on my hands and knees in the dirt. My whole garden was right there next to my flowerbeds, and it worked out wonderfully!

Everything came up, I'm proud to say. I didn't have any seeds that didn't make plants. In fact, because I had used a whole package of seeds in each window box, I ended up with a LOT of plants. I had to thin them out in order to see if I would get any fruits and veggies. But there was where my problem was.

I did have a problem with the plants making food. For some reason, I didn't get a single bean or pea at all, even thought I had multiple window boxes full of healthy bean and pea plants. They just never made food, and I still don't know why. I don't know if the root structure wasn't deep enough, of if being isolated from other types of plants made it so that food wouldn't grow on the plants... I just don't know. Perhaps I didn't thin out the rows enough, and they were crowded. However, it just happened that I didn't get any beans or peas. So I probably won't try those again next year! Maybe I can figure out why, and make a change, but if not, well, at least I tried!

I did get lots of carrots and onions, but the window boxes weren't very deep, so they were tiny. I was able to eat them and enjoy them, but they weren't very big! There simply wasn't enough soil for them to get as big as they would have in the ground. Next summer I will get deeper window boxes and make sure that I put the seeds closer to the top. This will ensure that I get bigger foods! I will also put more soil in next year, because I kind of skimped on the soil this year. So I will fill them fuller and put the seeds closer to the top on the plants that have to grow down!

The things that grew best were my tomatoes and my peppers. These plants yielded multiple fruits during the summer. I had so many tomatoes that I didn't know what to do with them. I'm not really good at canning, so a few of them even went to waste. I was able to give lots of tomatoes to people and share my peppers with them, and my hot peppers really got hot! I really succeeded as far as tomatoes and peppers went.

But it was a good thing to grow my own food and be able to eat it. That was the most important thing that I learned a lot about this summer. I think it was a great idea, and I'm going to do it again next year, with a few alterations. I really enjoyed having this garden because it taught me an awful lot about gardening in general.

Lots of stuff went right, and there are lots of reasons to have a garden in window boxes. In fact, yes, the weeds were much less in the window boxes. Its pretty windy here, so a few weed seeds blew and there were a few things growing in the window boxes that I had to pull out in order to keep my plants healthy. But there was nowhere near the amount of weeds that I would have had to deal with had I planted my garden in the ground outside of my yard. We've done that before, and spent most of the summer weeding the garden instead of enjoying it!

Also, buckets made the plants a lot easier to take care of. Also, they were a lot easier to water, because I lined them up on my sidewalk, so when my flowerbeds got water, so did my garden. They were in the front of the house, and I could see them from my kitchen window, so I never forgot about watering the garden or left it unattended. It was also easy to have people come over and water the garden when we went out of town.

I think it was better for the plants that I used potting soil as well. They were able to get much larger and make more fruits and veggies for me because of the good quality of soil I used. I also did not have to use any chemicals because there wasn't a need for chemicals. Using potting soil might sound excessive, because, after all, there is plenty of dirt in the ground, but potting soil really made my garden grow better, and I am sure that I will use it again next year.

One thing I learned however, was that I didn't put enough soil in. The window boxes weren't full enough, so some of the fruits and veggies couldn't grow as well as they should be able to grow. Next year I will be sure to change this and I will have an even better garden than I did this year ! This is something that I will be sure to change.

I will also change the types of plants that I use. I didn't get any cucumbers or zucchinis, so I will not plant those again. However, I will plant more lettuce and broccoli and spinach, because those all came up pretty nicely. As I have said, I will use more soil and plant onions and peppers and radishes in deeper soil so they grow better.

I will change a few things, to be sure, but I will also keep some of the things the same. I will have a window box garden, and I will be sure to call it my bucket garden. After all, it's family tradition, right?

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