My container gardening effort

I’ve written a lot about urging people to calm down, but I don’t want anyone thinking I am not encouraging people to stock up however they can – from the store, growing your own food and using and preserving food as much as you possibly can. Eliminating waste wherever you can will stretch your food. Cutting down on waste is something I keep working on, because I realized years ago that I waste a lot of food.

Alarming economic and shortage news will continue, like this one: “Traders were caught by surprise by Jokowi’s announcement that Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, was halting exports of the edible oil to ensure domestic food product availability.” Just saw that this evening.

I’ve worked on container gardening this spring. I started seeds with that winter sowing method, but it was really pointless, since I live in zone 8b. However, in the gallon jug I had 5 cabbage plants started. I planted them in Dollar Tree shopping bags (purchased when it was still a dollar) rather than toss them. So far they’re doing fine in these bags:

I put cardboard down and bags of wood mulch to spread out my containers, because my patio was getting too crowded with containers and I’m still working on that. I ran out of cardboard and have used weed-block fabric too. I used grow bags I ordered from amazon, various cheap plastic containers and things like these Dollar Tree bags. The most expensive part of this has been buying potting soil.

I apologize for my terrible photography, but here are some pictures of my container garden effort:

I did stupid stuff like I planted the entire pack of patio tomato seeds and pepper seeds, expecting about half to germinate and then when almost every seed sprouted, well, I didn’t thin them out. Now I have a lot, probably too many, patio tomato plants and peppers. I also gave away several patio tomato plants and peppers. Along my fence in cheap 10 gallon totes I’ve got seed potatoes planted, pots of hot peppers and grow bags of zucchinis. I have three blueberry bushes I planted in pots along the fence.

I probably only need one zucchini, but I planted 4 grow bags:

I’ve got grow bags of green beans, cucumbers, okra, yellow squash, scalloped edge pattypan squash, kale, cantaloupe, radishes are going to seed, lettuce, green onions, herbs and flowers too. Oh, and I decided I wanted to try some larger tomatoes, so I planted some Abe Lincoln tomato seeds late (photo below) and transplanted them into grow bags today:

I have herbs and some flowers started in square food containers from Dollar Tree:

The grow bags drain through the fabric, but I poked holes in all the plastic containers and bags from Dollar Tree. Drainage holes are vital.

What I don’t have, yet, are any raised beds, so I just moved ahead with the containers for right now. I planted everything from seed, except I bought the blueberry bushes, obviously and I bought seed potatoes and onion sets. I also have a rosemary plant I bought at Walmart. For potting up seedlings, I put holes in red Solo cups and I washed all of them, so I can use them again. I intend to reuse all these grow bags and cheap Dollar Tree containers. My backyard stays very muddy and kind of swampy after it rains, so I am hoping this wood mulch helps keep things manageable. I heard some gardener guy talking about wood mulch attracts slugs and snails, so I’ll watch and see.

I also started pressure canning chicken and ground beef, even though it’s just me. I already had quite a bit of canned chicken from the store and I have a lot of frozen chicken, but I decided to start pressure canning some too. I pressure canned 16 pints of chicken breasts cut into pieces this past weekend and I also pressure canned 8 pints of ground beef. I’m brand new to pressure canning, but there are loads of excellent how-to videos online and I bought a Ball canning book and the USDA food preservation guide. I followed the steps and didn’t have any problems with this.

I remember helping my mother and great-grandmother can vegetables and pickles as a kid, but that was just doing what they told me to do. On my own, I was a tad wary, but took it step-by-step. I’m 61 and if I can learn how to do this, anyone can.

Any ways people can stock up on food and basics are a good thing. It’s actually been fun working on this container gardening project and learning to pressure can meat. Just try to do a little bit each day and you’ll be surprised how quickly you make progress.

Decided to add that I purchased a pressure canner a few years ago, while my husband was still alive, but with the caregiver demands, I never got started. Now seems like a good time to learn. I’m sure I’ll make some blunders with home canning, but pressure canning chicken and ground beef was much easier than I expected.

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