Bin Gardening

Bin Gardening

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Self-Watering Bins versus Pots

What a beautiful season! We have had many warm, sunny days in GA and the container plants are doing very well! Below are comparison pictures of the “Better Boy” tomato variety transplanted from the same 4-cell pack five weeks ago. One was planted in a 6” pot and the other 3 were planted in one of our homemade self-watering bins. I used the same potting mix (Miracle Grow) for both containers, transplanted them on the same day, placed them both in full sun on our deck and watered both thoroughly. I continued to water the potted plant every other day or when the soil started to dry out. I monitored the level of the reservoir of the bin plants everyday by spraying water into the watering tube and counting the seconds it took for water to come out of the overflow hole. I added a bit of water as needed to keep the reservoir full.

Bin tomato plants compared to potted tomato

The results have convinced me that the wicking method (water in a reservoir being wicked up to the potting mix and roots) produces a healthier and more robust crop. The tomato plants grew twice as tall with lush foliage and healthy green tomatoes. We’ll be making more bins this week to experiment with growing melons, potatoes, and garlic.

Last week I started thinking about some variations I wanted to try on our bin design, to attract more pollinators, offer natural pest control and biodiversity, and to make the rows of bins look more aesthetically pleasing. I drilled two 2-inch holes in the front of two newly constructed bins. These are to plant flower seedlings that will grow on the front of the container, giving a more colorful look to the silver bins. I planted petunias in the first set of bins, and plan to plant marigolds in the next set of bins (for insect control and to add color). The 2-inch hole seemed a bit large, so I will reduce the size to 1.5” on our next set of bins.

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I would love to hear from others who have had successes and challenges with growing food in homemade containers. May your efforts be blessed!

Enjoy the May sunshine!


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