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Snippet of Encyclopedia Botanica Episode 101: Container Gardening with Sara Gasbarra

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Last Played: December 09, 2020
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Listen now to an Audio Snippet of “Container Gardening with Sara Gasbarra” as Encyclopedia Botanica discusses box sizes, self-watering mechanisms, and irrigation techniques.
A weekly podcast about edible gardening.
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So let's talk about containers on this podcast. I generally consider a container any growing vessel that's 4 ft by 4 ft or smaller. What is the typical size of growing container you're working in? Um, it really varies. I've you know, I've grown in containers that are roughly around 2 ft long by 11 about 1 ft wider deep. I I've just installed a project, the one in D. C. There elevated planters and those air about those air 2 ft by 4 ft long. And now I've got projects where I'm going and, you know, 3 to 4 ft wide beds that are, you know, 6 to 8 ft long so it varies. I'm particularly looking, and the the way I pick a container is basically trying to find a container that fits not necessarily like dimension wise but fits the situation. So if I'm growing on a rooftop that doesn't really have any shade protection is that there's there's significant, maybe a significant win situation, then I'm thinking about self watering containers. I tend to find that if you know if if this garden is baking in the heat all summer long, that self watering component even though I'm installing supplemental drip irrigation on the surface of these beds or containers. But that's self watering feature really adds benefit to that project on a roof. What about materials? Are there any that you're particularly Fonda I like? I've installed for a couple projects that air where we're thinking about weight in particular. Um, it's a company out of Australia called Glow Pair. They make a really fantastic self watering planter box. It's called the Garden Planter. Well, they have different. They have a couple different sizes of smaller ones as well. Just a fantastic self watering system and container and weaken cluster them. We again, they're modular. They work great, like the style very contemporary sort of modern andan. If someone wants again, if they're thinking visually, maybe something that's not as contemporary looking. Um, Gardner Supply makes some fantastic self watering planter boxes. They're elevated cedar planter beds on. Do they have like a standing planter that self watering as well? And they're cedar, so like they carry an eco friendly waving stains. So now you've got these, you know, cedar, beautiful cedar planter boxes that again have a self watering feature, which is fantastic Can you describe how the self watering mechanism works in these containers? Yes, so there's s so basically there's a water reservoir on the bottom. Um, usually there's like a tube on the side, or some method where you can actually fill the reservoir on the bottom manually. Andan. There's like a wicking system, so you'll find like there's like a piece of I should say fabric. But like a week that you put in the bottom off the bed before you put your soil and you fill it with soil. And like, for instance, Globe here has a little like gauge on the side that will let you know when that reservoir is full in when it's empty. Um, I find that we don't actually have to fill them manually because either through rain or through the irrigation system, they're generally they always stay full. But it's nice, because then the roots are kind of feeding from the bottom, and then they're also irrigated from the top through the drip system. Yeah, one of the big issues with containers and particularly in a really exposed area where it's getting blasted with heat and sun, is that they dry out because so many so much soil surface is exposed to the heat. Exactly so I can see how these self watering containers with that extra reservoir for the routes would be really beneficial. I think if you want a smaller if you want thio, have a larger number of smaller pots and containers. I think look for a self watering feature for them. I think if you've got if you're on a rooftop er or even, you know in a patio or balcony and you've got a little extra space and you go with a larger box than maybe you don't necessarily need that. But if you're on a roof happened, you've got everything is kind of exposed and that you know that garden is going to be baking in the sun. I always tend to say, Try to fight a self watering product. I think it just adds a lot of benefit Thio and ensure success to the garden. Well, I will take your advice because I'm always so surprised at how healthy the crops coming out of your containers, which I often would consider a smaller container look. So I don't know, maybe the secret sauce is this self watering mechanism Well and I'll and I'll say this, too. I mean, I am surprised, like so some of the boxes that I've used from Gardener's supply, like even if you're not installing the supplemental irrigation system and you just have your container, you know, you're you've got your yourself watering planters out there. It blows my mind like that. You really I mean, you still have to if you don't have the aggregation system and you still have to water them in hand, water them but like you just don't have to do it is often and I'm like, you know, some of the first time I kind of started using one like this is like, really work. And it's insane. Like it really like eso for someone who's very busy and doesn't want to be out in their garden everyday hand watering or, you know, pulling their house out again. Another another benefit to using, um, you know, you still have to water them in, but but you don't have to do It is frequently, and when you say watering and I'm assuming you're referring to when you have just planted a new transplant into a container or sown seeds into a container. You need toe water them right away, like right after planting. But even with these self watering systems, you do always install drip irrigation. Correct? I do install drip irrigation because, um, again doesn't matter what sort of box or using obviously you needs it needs to be watered in Nashville. I'm watering. I've got the The gardens on a system are the timer, and we're basically irrigating three times a day. I'm so glad you brought that up because I think that that's a really crucial technique. When it comes to growing a successful container garden, it's much more effective. Thio water your garden multiple times throughout the day instead of one big. So right, of course, the exact duration that you run your irrigation for is going to depend on the weather and your micro climate. But in general, I would say that containers benefit from Mawr frequent waterings, um, that are in shorter duration as opposed to one watering. It doesn't know it does, And I s O. And it changes, you know, in the and start of the season. I think right now I've planted some things and I've already started seating in down in Nashville, and I don't even turn the irrigation on yet. And there's no reason to at this point, the soil, you know, it's been raining a lot. It's not that hot. So the soil is all the consistency is it's fantastic. It ZMA voiced its It's perfect. Once it starts getting hotter, I will adjust the irrigation as we kind of move through the season. So say, at the height of the season down there and including Chicago, Um, I'm generally running it early in the morning. Then I'm running it. I'm giving these guys a little break in the middle of the day when it's super hot, and then another little, another little drink towards the end of, you know towards early evening seems to work. And then I and then I you know, as fall approaches, we start turning them off. So even with this, even with the self watering planters, I still will do that. Yep. And do you usually use like a quarter inch emitter tubing for your container? Yeah, I do. I'll do a quarter edge. Yeah, I find that that's super well suited for containers, because there good size and easy toe shape. Whatever
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