Drip Irrigation, Planter Box Problems and Sunshades in the New Deck Container Garden
The deck container garden has done very well during it’s first month. The container gardening drip irrigation system appears to be working without any problems or major leaks. The planter boxes are holding up well. The plants appear to be growing healthily with just enough water to each plant pot. The heat hasn’t been bad enough to restart the problems from last year. In fact, I’ve even avoided turning on the drop fertilization system thus far.
Managing water while container gardening can be a challenge. I have a drip irrigation single emitter on the planter boxes with a single plant and double emitters on the plant box that has two plants. I’ve been very careful to make sure that the emitter for each plant pot is well positioned and that there is plenty of dirt dammed up around the emitter to make sure that the little bit of water that is applied goes straight to the plant.
My container garden pepper plants are a great example of a drip irrigation dual emitter situation. The only other container gardening dual emitter setup is for the cucumbers. I have noticed that the cucumbers, which are at the far end of the drip irrigation chain may potentially be receiving less water in their planter box than the strawberries and peppers plant pots which are further up the chain and thus closer to the actual hose bib.
One of the drawbacks to using last year’s container garden dirt is that it has weeds in it. I tried to avoid them as much as possible when getting the dirt in the first place but wound up with a few weeds that sprout in each planter box. It’s not a big problem when container gardening but definitely something that needs doing at least weekly to prevent each plant pot from being over run with weeds.
I’m not sure when tomato plants are supposed to bloom or even what causes them to bloom or if they behave differently in a container garden. Nevertheless, each of my three tomato plants will occasionally show a single bloom or a small stalk of blooms. Since the plants are still young and have a lot of room in the plant pot, I make it a point to pinch them off whenever I find them. I want the plants in each planter box dedicated to growing and strengthening rather than bearing fruit right now.
Last year I had a big problem with the deck container garden over-heating due to what appeared to be heat reflected from the surface of the deck onto the dark blue sides of the planter boxes. I didn’t realize that heat management would be such a challenge when container gardening. I didn’t want to abandon the deck container garden nor did I want to invest in a total sunshade to cover every plant pot so I devised a simple sunshade cover that sits in front of three sides of each plant container. It’s a simple construction and something that my youngest daughter and I made in about 20 minutes. We used extra, leftover and scrap lumber to prototype a sunshade or shield. Our goal was to have it be as light and cheap as possible. I think we met that goal!
The wood I used has a weather proofed side and an untreated side so it looks nice from the front and is light in color to help reflect the heat away from each of the planter boxes that is bound to come later in the summer. The only problem I’ve found thus far with this setup for container gardening is that the dogs and cats can easily tip them over if the get to messing around very close to the sunshades for each plant pot in the container garden.
The finished sunshade looks reasonable enough and hides the ugly planter boxes in the container garden from normal view. It’s not horribly ugly, it was easy and inexpensive to build and I believe it will serve it’s purpose to reduce the heat in the planter boxes in the container garden. The weather isn’t quite warm enough yet to actually test the soil temperature differences with a soil thermometer but should be by the next update.
My plants are beginning to get tall enough that I’ve brought the plant cages for the container garden I built last year back up onto the deck so that they will be ready to install on the planter boxes when the time is right. There are a lot of unique challenges that have to be managed when container gardening!
My container garden cucumbers are doing well and starting to develop “real” leaves. I only planted 6 seeds in each of two mounds in the planter box and it appears that all except one have sprouted.
My tomato plants are going gang busters. Container gardening tomatoes is quite an adventure, especially when you use a wide variety of varieties! This one is going to need a plant cage around ti’s planter box pretty soon so that it does not outgrow the container garden.
This is my container garden specific tomato plant and the difference between it and the two other non-patio varieties is striking. This plant , specifically for patio or container gardening, invests the majority of its effort in developing leaves where the other plants invest heavily in growing stalks. It also appears to have more than enough room for roots in the planter box.
My youngest’s yellow tomatoes are doing very well. They are not specifically designed for container gardening in a planter box but she wanted them and she was with me when we were selecting the plants.
My two container garden pepper plants are doing nicely. I’m a bit concerned at their apparent slower growth rate but we still have a long growing season in front of us. The water also appears to distribute very well in the planter box.
Container gardening strawberry plants continues to be a challenge. My youngest’s strawberry plant still lags behind all of the other plants. It just looks like it is never going to grow big enough to fill the planter box. We failed miserably with strawberries in the container garden last year and the outlook for this year does not currently hold a lot of promise.[sc:catlinks]