Organic Vegetable Container Gardening - Sarasota County Extension
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Organic Vegetable Container Gardening - Sarasota County Extension

OUTLINE‣Overview of topics of nootimetalks on organic vegetablegardening‣Introduction to organicvegetable gardening‣Basics of organic vegetablecontainer gardening

Topics of Noontime Talksfor Organic Vegetable Gardening• Introduction (Nov 23, 2011)• Edible Flowers (Dec 7, 2011)• Container Gardening (Dec 21, 2011)• Worm Composting (Jan 4, 2012)• Frost Protection (Jan 11, 2012)• Composting – Part 1 (Jan 25, 2012)• Transplants (Feb 11,2012)

Topics of Noontime Talksfor Organic Vegetable Gardening• Composting – Part 2 (Feb 22, 2012)• Irrigation (March 14, 2012)• Beneficial Insects (March 28, 2012)• Companion Planting (April 11, 2012)• Cover crops (April 22, 2012)

Goals for Noontime Talks onOrganic Vegetable Introduction Gardening– Food for your freshest nutrition– Food for expanding benefits of backyardvegetable gardening– Food for thought– Food for your soul

Approach of Noontime Talks onOrganic Vegetable Gardening• Promote the practice of the guidelines inthe reference “Vegetable Gardening inFlorida” by James M. Stephens. 1999.Univ. of FL, IFAS• Provide background information on thescience and principles from agroecologyfor successful organic vegetable gardening•• Provide additional resources available forsuccessful organic vegetable gardening

• Available from UF/IFAS bookstore, see available from your favorite book vender.

What is Agroecology?• Recognition of the whole systems nature of foodproduction• Indicators of agroecosystem sustainability– Energy flow– Nutrient cycling– Population regulation mechanisms– Dynamic equilibrium• Application and management– Identify the indicators in each system– Observe immediate and future impacts– Focus the search for alternatives or solutions to problemsGliessman, S. 1998, Agroecology: Ecological Processes in Sustainable Agriculture

Ecosystems and Plant Growth• Our model is the “ecosystem” w/ functional emergentproperties & subsystems (e.g., nutrient cycling, etc)

How to Understand a SuccessfulOrganic Vegetable Garden Ecosystem

Organic Vegetable Garden Ecologycropspestssoil• Our model for organic vegetable gardening too is promote the“ecosystem” with functional subsystems from managed biodiversity

What Is Organic Vegetable Gardening?

Organic Vegetable Gardening• A science and art• Incorporates the entire landscape designand environment to improve and maximizethe garden soil's health, structure, & texture• Maximizes the production and health ofdeveloping plants without using syntheticcommercial fertilizers, pesticides, orfungicidesDavid Knauft, Horticulture Department, Univ. of

Organic Vegetable Gardening• Differences to "conventional" gardening– mainly in the areas of fertilization and pest control– use natural and organic materials and methods– avoids using practices and synthetic chemicalsthat may be detrimental to his health orenvironment.James Stephens, Horticultural Sciences Department, IFAS, Univ. of FL

Is This Your Situation?‣Your Ability for Organic Vegetable Gardeningis Restricted Because:limited spaceproduction challengesinadequate resources (soil, water, etc)weathernuisances (pests, animals, people, etc)contamination physical challengestime constraintshome deed restrictions

Container Gardens Offer SolutionsExcellent for a small and diverse areasGardens can be grown inside or outsidePlants may be moved as neededOffers endless and creative opportunitiesPlants that tend to spread are often bettergrown in a container.

Container Gardens Offer Solutions Soil-borne diseases, nematodes, weeds,and poor soil conditions are easily overcomeEasier to maintain for a variety of lifestyles,i.e., less work than a large gardenOption for physically challenged personsVery fast results compared to organic fieldvegetable production Convenient method for edible landscaping

Container Garden SolutionExamplesCarport GardeningPatio/Balcony Gardening

Container Garden SolutionExamplesBackyard GardeningRooftop Gardening

Container Vegetable Gardening Books

Organic Container VegetableGardening: Basics Crops Location Containers Potting mixture WaterProtection

Crops: Selection• Most crops that do well in the backyard will do wellin container gardens.• Those will more compact growth will generally dobetter.• Follow UF/IFAS recommendations for cultivarsand planting dates• Crops can be planted as transplants or seed.

Crops: Annuals vs. Biennials vs.• AnnualsPerennials– Most vegetables, some herbs, many flowers– Replanted yearly• Biennials (e.g., beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, onions,parsley, some radishes)– 1 st year roots/foliage– 2 nd year flower/seed production• Perennials (e.g., Garlic, shallots, Egyptian onions,asparagus, rhubarb)– Come back every year– Most herbs and fruit, many flowers, a few vegetables

Location:ImportantFactorsMD CooperativeExtension

Location: Important FactorsMD Cooperative Extension

Containers: You Are Limited OnlyBy Your Imagination !• Pots• Wastebaskets• Aquariums• Waterproof bushelbaskets• Washtubs• Hollowed-out logs• Crates• Bowls• Crocks• Urns• Tubs• Barrels• Cans• Pans• Chimney flues• Baskets• Cement blocks• Old pair of workboots

Container Example: Flower Pots

Container Example:Raised Containers

Container Example:Self-Watering UnitsEarthBox Units5 Gallon Bucket Pots

Container Example:Hanging PotsDecorativeHanging PostsUpside Down Tomato PlanterFence line pots

Container Example: Bags-„Smart Pots‟PotatoGrowBagsTomatoes in RecycledShopping Bag-Trash Bags

Container Example:Vertical UnitsGrowing ColumnVertical Wall

Container Example: Hydroponics* An option only for illustrative purposes todaySoilless „Bottle‟ HydroponicsFloating Hydroponics

Container Example:Miscellaneous ContainersWater BucketBath tubsBarrelsCartonsOld Boots

Containers:Use ProperSizeEric de Long, Cornell Extension

Containers: Use Proper Size• If put in smallercontainers first,then move up asplant gets larger• All varieties are not createdequal. Use the books, theInternet and seed catalogs tochoose varieties suitable forcontainers in your location.

Containers: Use Proper SizeDemboski &Swanberg.OSU Extension

Containers:Use ProperSizeDemboski &Swanberg.OSU Extension

Containers: Tips• Choose a large pot or tub for a mixed planting,one that will offer enough root space for all theplants you want to grow.• Rootbound plants, which have filled up everysquare inch of the soil available, dry out rapidlyand won't grow well.• Light-colored containers keep the soil coolerthan dark containers which have a drying effectdue to greater heat absorption.

Containers: Tips• Use containers created from naturalmaterials such as clay, & wood, or recycledproducts like buckets, tin cans, and plasticpails of safest* food grade plastic, i.e,• Note that FDA** approved plastics forrecycling include the following• Soil in containers made of porousmaterials such a terra cotta pots tend to dryout faster.***

Potting Mixture: Important Factors• Desireable to use a lightweight, porousgrowing medium• Must remain loose, drain well, providenutrients and retain moisture• All-purpose commercial potting mixes arepermitted if without synthetic chemicaladditives• Acceptable fertilizers include organic gardenfertilizers, compost, fish/sea weed emulsions,and earthworm castings

Potting Mix: Important FactorsMDCooperativeExtension

Potting Mixture: Add BeneficialSoil LifeAdd EarthwormsFor “Vermigardening”Use „Mature Compost‟ forBeneficials Inoculation

Potting Mixture:Recommendation ExamplesMD Cooperative Extension

Water• Irrigation is critical due to reduced soilvolumes of containers compared to fieldvegetable gardens• Eating quality and yield will be greatlyreduced if plants are allowed to wilt due tolack of water• Watering needs will vary depending on• container size• ambient temperature• sunlight• humidityMD Cooperative Extension

Water• Potting mix should be kept moist & not soggy• Add water slowly until you see it leave outdrainage holes of container• Use a watering can or a nozzle at end ofhose that produces a soft stream of water• Small containers dry out faster than largercontainers• Large, mature plants need more water thansmall, seedlings and young plantsMD Cooperative Extension

Container Watering Systems• Micro-irrigation with soaker hoses and dripemitters is efficient, convenient, and relativelyInexpensive.• Timers can be use for automated watering.

Container Watering SystemsSelf-watering containers offers an excellentoption of optimal wateringEarthbox TM Design

Water: Self-Watering ContainerHomemade Version of Earthbox TM Design

Water: Self-Watering Container5GallonBucketVersionMDCooperativeExtension

Container Drainage• Whatever type of container you use,drainage is very important• Place drainage holes on bottom orsides• If located on bottom, container must beelevated to allow drainage of excesswaterEric de Long, Cornell Extension

. Protection: Cover or Move from Frost• Container and roots can freezing duringthe occasional cold spells.

Protection: Use Companion PlantingBeets & Strawberry InterplantingAllysum Insectary Plant Container

Container Gardening & RegulationsAre you a container urban farmer?If so, then certain regulations may apply to you.Backyard Micro-Farming

Container Gardening & RegulationsAre you a container urban farmer?Does your gardening look like these examples?Rooftop Urban Farming

“Food For The Soul”The Vegetable Garden PoemFor the Garden Of Your Living...• Plant three rows of Peas:1. Peace of mind2. Peace of heart3. Peace of soul• Plant four rows of Squash:1. Squash gossip2. Squash indifference3. Squash grumbling4. Squash selfishness

• To conclude our garden...“Food For The Soul”The Vegetable Garden Poem• Plant four rows of Lettuce:1. Lettuce be faithful2. Lettuce be kind3. Lettuce be patient4. Lettuce really love one another• No garden is without Turnips:1. Turnip for meetings2. Turnip for service3. Turnip to help one another

“Food For The Soul”The Vegetable Garden Poem• To conclude our garden...• We must have Thyme:1. Thyme for each other2. Thyme for family3. Thyme for friends• Water freely with patience and cultivate withlove.• There is much fruit in your Garden because…• You Reap, What You Sow!Author Unknown – see Rocks In My Garden Blog at

Organic Vegetable Container Garden:Enjoy and Good Luck

Online Resources• Container Vegetable Gardening - see• De Long, Eric. Growing Vegetable, Herbs and Annual Flowersin Containers. Cornell Univ. Extension – see• Jauron, R. & D. Nelsen. Container Vegetable Gardening – see• Martin, J., K. Demboski, & A. Swanberg. Container VegetableGardening. Ohio State University Extension Publication HYG-1647-2000 – see

Online Resources• Maryland Cooperative Extension. Container VegetableGardening: Healthy Harvests From Small Spaces – see• Organic Gardening Secrets. 2009. Organic ContainerGardening – see• Santos, B.,, 2010. Solutions for Small Farmers andHome Gardens: Building a Low Cost Vertical Soilless Systemfor Small Vegetable and Fruit Crops. UF/IFAS EDISPublication # HS1186 – see• Seattle Peak Oil Awareness Organization. Making a SelfWatering Container or Earthbox TM – see

Online Resources• Stevens, J.M. 2009. Organic VegetableGardening. UF/IFAS EDIS Publication #CIR375– see• Stevens, J.M. 2010. Florida VegetableGardening Guide. UF/IFAS EDIS Publication#SP103 - see• Stevens, J.M. 2010. Minigardening (Growing Vegetable inContainers) UF/IFAS EDIS Publication HS708 – see• Sweat, M., R.Tyson, & B. Hochmuth. 2009. Building a FloatingHydroponic Garden. UF/IFAS EDIS Publication HS943 – see

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