S f gate garden using drip systems for potted plants

S f gate garden using drip systems for potted plants



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S f gate garden using drip systems for potted plants in areas with poor soil. We use polyester fabric tubes for larger containers and paper-based containers (such as egg cartons or toilet paper rolls) for smaller pots.

Sink or water table drippers

_**Water and fertilizer applications**_

Our goal is to apply 10 to 15 gallons of water to each plant over the course of the growing season, and fertilizer once a month or so in spring and fall. In areas where water is scarce and rainfall is erratic, irrigate carefully. The amount of water applied to each plant depends on the plant's size and shape. To find the amount of water required for a particular plant, find the plant's size in inches. Divide the plant size in inches by 3, and that will give you the amount of gallons needed.

In some areas, the ground doesn't naturally retain water. In such cases, we use submersible drip systems to get water to the plants. For the best results, water the plants on top of or close to the ground level. The systems we recommend come in all shapes and sizes and can be set to deliver water anywhere from a few inches to a foot or more.

Gardeners also use timers to turn on and off irrigation systems during the growing season. Such timers are a good investment for plants that require consistent moisture. Drip irrigation systems are ideal for vegetable gardens because they water slowly. Some drip systems come with an electric motor that drives the wick through which the water is delivered, while others are gravity-driven, relying on the force of gravity to pull the water from the reservoir up and over a wick, through a drip line, and into the plant.

Here are some facts about watering your container garden:

• Plants and trees require less water when temperatures are cool in fall and spring.

• Watering frequently during the first two weeks is enough for most plants.

• During the second and third weeks, water twice a day and only once a day for the next two weeks. After that, water every day until flowers bloom.

## CHAPTER TEN

## FOOD

## The Art of Food

For gardeners, nothing is more satisfying than harvesting a fresh produce harvest in late summer or fall. For others, the satisfaction of enjoying a garden's bounty is enhanced by the added challenge of the season. No matter the result, growing and harvesting your own vegetables is a great way to get into the garden.

The art of harvesting is important because the plants you grow require time to mature. It takes time for the seeds to germinate, and it takes time for your plants to reach the stage where you harvest them.

### Picking the Harvest

The most common practice of harvesting is to pick by the number of days the harvest will mature, depending on the variety and cultivar. For most plants this time period is 14 days, but the time may vary for different crops. Other systems that can be used are to count on a specific stage of maturity such as "cukes" or "first frost."

For example, if you were growing tomatoes, which usually don't have a distinct harvest time, you can count on the tomato plant at certain stages to judge when they're ready. A standard tomato plant is usually planted on a short trellis in late April. If you notice the leaves are turning orange and a few are beginning to turn red, you'll know it's time to start picking tomatoes. When they are mature, the fruit should have blackened and toughened skin and be easily bruised. At this point, the tomatoes can be cut off the plant and enjoyed.

In terms of time, there are two ways to count the days for your harvest. You can either count the days from transplanting or from your last harvest. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

#### Counting Days from Transplanting

The counting of days from planting is based on a theory called _transplanting into light_. To be most successful with growing vegetables you want to transplant into the lightest soil you can. This means it's best to plant directly in the garden or into a seedling tray that has holes. These holes, called "light holes," allow light to penetrate the holes where the seedlings were transplanted, while keeping out the soil and weeds. These are holes that allow the seedlings to get the light they need for photosynthesis. Without the light, the seedlings die.

If you count the days from planting, you can pick the harvest much earlier than expected. There's no way to control when a plant's roots will grow down and explore the earth. For some plants, it could be as little as 10 days.

This theory has led to many vegetable growers to plant into the lightest soils first in the year. They also plant as early as possible in the spring. Planting just before the soil is completely dry could be risky for many vegetables. Soil should have more than 6 or 7 inches of water to be considered ready for planting.

Another problem with this method is the fact that you don't really know when the planting will occur. In general, the growing season is extended with these early plantings. That makes you start a little early. It also means that you are planting just before you are ready to get your hands dirty in the garden.

#### Counting Days from Last Harvest

The counting of days from harvest is done in a similar way to the "counting from planting" method. You count the number of days from the last harvest, not the last planting. If you choose to do this method, the count is based on a few factors: the type of crop, whether it is a heirloom crop or not, whether the crop is a leafy or fruiting type, what type of garden you are growing it in, what the weather was like, and whether it is a cool or warm season crop.

The last of these, a warm-season crop, has the same effects that cool season crops do on soil health and nutrient levels. It makes soil more acidic and doesn't help in any of the other factors mentioned above. You may need to add a little lime to the soil to offset this.

It's possible to count the number of days from harvest in many ways. You could just simply count out the number of days from your last harvest.

Many people count out the number of growing days from planting, so they could use that method, too. Remember though, that this is the number of days from planting and not the number of days from harvest.

There are also special ways to count the number of days from harvest. If you are growing a tomato or pepper, it's as simple as weighing out how many grams of the fruit were harvested. This will determine how many grams of the fruit were picked. If you planted three seeds, and one is out, but the other two are still in, you could calculate out how many days from planting you have left. If they are about three days into the garden, you could say three days have passed from planting, but you need to wait four more days before you can actually harvest the tomato.

If you have a few more heirloom varieties you want to count the number of days from planting, you could find the average time between each harvest. This is usually done with plants like beans or cucumbers. They start to bear fruit about three or four days after planting, and then it takes another week or two for them to get to the harvest stage.

You could also determine how many days it took to grow a particular plant out of your own knowledge and experience. For example, you might know how long it