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Hello fellow ladies of the best circle (don't let the others know!) I come seeking advice! Help!

I am getting keys to my forever home next week. It's a beautiful 1920's house I can give lots of love and wull own outright. I'm needless to say: extra excited and feeling very liberated.

The garden needs a lot of love and soil remediation, and I'll surely be begging for your wisdom on it soon but I want to start with outdoor food containers. I would like them to be elevated as chronic pain makes kneeling / stooping very painful.

Questions:

  1. I would like to grow chard, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, and small potatoes (the finger sort). Ideas on depth of the raised planter? I was thinking two feet but I can't find any root length information for food crops....
  2. Since I live in a desert and will be moving from a zone 13 to zone 9b/10a am I going overboard in having the containers under a cover? I'll have a long side deck off my kitchen I would like to use. This should provide shade. FYI my UV index rating at my new home will be an 8 (I am in a 10 to 10+ area now).
  3. Has anyone ever "plumbed" their containers? I want to put in a drain at the bottom of each and then let that water drain off onto the ground where I can plant a fruit bearing tree that can use the excess. Any particular angling needed to ensure gravity "works" and they can all drain together?
  4. The community In moving to is very small and has cooperative food gardening, any high yield container crops I may be missing that might allow me to contribute extra crop and is nutritionally dense?

I've been collecting seeds and starting research but sometimes exposure to those with experience is best so I'm hoping some of you have ideas on how to help make my crazy plan work.

Thank you in advance!

Hello fellow ladies of the best circle (don't let the others know!) I come seeking advice! Help! I am getting keys to my forever home next week. It's a beautiful 1920's house I can give lots of love and wull own outright. I'm needless to say: extra excited and feeling very liberated. The garden needs a lot of love and soil remediation, and I'll surely be begging for your wisdom on it soon but I want to start with outdoor food containers. I would like them to be elevated as chronic pain makes kneeling / stooping very painful. Questions: 1. I would like to grow chard, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, and small potatoes (the finger sort). Ideas on depth of the raised planter? I was thinking two feet but I can't find any root length information for food crops.... 2. Since I live in a desert and will be moving from a zone 13 to zone 9b/10a am I going overboard in having the containers under a cover? I'll have a long side deck off my kitchen I would like to use. This should provide shade. FYI my UV index rating at my new home will be an 8 (I am in a 10 to 10+ area now). 3. Has anyone ever "plumbed" their containers? I want to put in a drain at the bottom of each and then let that water drain off onto the ground where I can plant a fruit bearing tree that can use the excess. Any particular angling needed to ensure gravity "works" and they can all drain together? 4. The community In moving to is very small and has cooperative food gardening, any high yield container crops I may be missing that might allow me to contribute extra crop and is nutritionally dense? I've been collecting seeds and starting research but sometimes exposure to those with experience is best so I'm hoping some of you have ideas on how to help make my crazy plan work. Thank you in advance!

9 comments

[–] onelightbulb 5 points (+5|-0) Edited

CONGRATS on the house, it sounds lovely! I successfully gardened in containers for years before getting my own house. You can grow almost anything in a container if it's large enough. My recommendation for the water situation would be to plant flowers underneath the food planters (to attract pollinators) and simply drill holes in the bottom of each. You can also make your planters large raised beds instead, without a floor, just open to the soil on the bottom (as the other poster said, boxes 2-3' tall) this helps provide more root space and prevents the soil from drying out and getting too warm). Fruit trees are great, but you probably want a little more control over the amount of water and nutrients it will receive, plus they can be picky about their location.

You probably will not need shade cloth except when you have exceptionally blistering days, or new seedlings you protect until established. When established, all vegetable plants need at least 4-6 hours of direct light, fruiting ones need more than that if possible. If you have areas that get shade during the hottest part of the day, plant your herbs and greens there.

Here are some other thoughts!

  • Potatoes need large containers or grow bags, small potatoes are just baby potatoes; if you want them smaller, harvest earlier. Read up on "earthing" or hilling potatoes in containers. Carrots can do alright in smaller containers, but are choosy about soil type.
  • As I mentioned, containers get dry faster. In the summer, here in zone 7b, my tomatoes in 5-10 gallon buckets needed water twice a day. This is the biggest downside to containers. In your zone, they will also get hot, I'm not talking about sunburning the plants but rather increasing the temperature of your soil. Plants are more sensitive to soil temp than air temp, and when you lose the insulating power of the earth, your plants' roots are subject to more dramatic temperature swings. Mulch helps keep soil temps down.
  • Fill the bottom 6-8 inches of your large planters with organic materials like grass clippings, leaves, small twigs. Then fill the rest with your soil mixture of choice (probably mostly compost). It will break down over time. Soil is expensive, with planter boxes as large as you are building, buy in bulk. There should be companies near you that sell by the yard.
  • Peppers are good for your zone and are high in vitamins, if you don't like spicy things you can get them in sweet varieties or stuff large bell peppers with sausage and rice! They love containers (for their previously mentioned warm and dry characteristics!) and in your zone would probably produce from May to November.
  • Your other crops are great too, but consider planting a winter squash type, like acorn or butternut, alongside your summer squash. Summer squashes are prone to the highly invasive squash vine borer and everyone I know faces serious problems with them. You can still get summer squash to produce, but it's nice to have options, cuz once SVB is in your squash patch it can take them out quick.
  • Green beans, the bush type, would also work in your containers and they love the heat. Strawberries also love containers and are perennials.

I might be back with more thoughts; your house and garden sound super charming and I'm excited for you!