Herb Pot Irrigation System
Last spring Prue and I set up raised garden beds using vegetable crates in our front yard. The same weekend we also set up some pots in our back yard to grow herbs and tomatoes. The crates did exceptionally well and we're happily eating home grown zucchinis, beans, lettuce, sugar snap peas, snow peas, carrots and spring onions all summer. However, the tomatoes did poorly. In part because we weren't diligent with our watering during the hotter weeks and partially because we chose poorly with our pots.
This year I was determined to have home grow tomatoes. We decided to do few veggies in greater quantity. So we've planted tomatoes, zucchini's and beans in the crates and only put lettuce and herbs out the back in pots.
I think we didn't water the pots last year as often as we knew we should have because it wasted a lot of water using the hose. So I decided to install an individual drip system for each pot. I refreshed all the pots with newly mixed soil and lined the base with pea straw. I also planted strawberries in some dip tins that we'd been looking forward to a way to use.
We purchased some two lengths of standard irrigation hose to run along the fence, 20m of narrow hose to run to each pot, 20 x staked pot drippers and various fittings.
It was easy to install and only took a couple of hours to get everything done; including replanting the lettuce, bok choy, rocket and strawberries.
It took a little finessing to get the balance in the system right; by adjusting the flow of each outlet (starting with the furthest away from the tap). Now it only takes 2mins each morning to water all the pots with just the right amount. I have a digital timer that I'm not using at the moment so I might install that soon so that it's completely automated.
Veggie Crate Garden Insect Netting
For the veggie crates, I wanted to make them highly productive. So we planted zucchinis, green beans and purple beans and tomatoes. The zucchini and tomatoes were started with Diggers seedlings from Bulleen Art and Garden. We planted 8 unique varieties of tomatoes - mostly heirloom.
The beans I germinated from seed (see below) and they made an excellent start but once they reached seedling size some cheeky pest started eating the shoots. So I purchased some seedlings and started again. So to combat the grubs, rats and neighbourhood cats they enjoyed marauding our raised garden beds I installed an insect net. It was very easy to do. 10 garden stakes, one at each corner and a few for good measure, 4 m of netting (about $12 worth) draped over and stapled in place at a few points. I left several large openings so that I could get in a tend to the garden and so that I could let bees in once the plants started flowering.To secure the openings at night, I simply fold and pin the corners with ocky straps.
It's an extremely dense plant - approximately 2-3 times as close as they really ought to be, but so far everything is doing very well. Hopefully, we'll get good yields and we'll have enough to make our favourite zucchini pickle and tomato relish.