What’s Blooming in July: a Look at my Zone 3 Garden

Cosmos

A lovely bunch of bees have made my back garden a part of their evening tour. I’m flattered. They buzz from Dahlias to Cosmos, but particularly enjoy the Allium. Perhaps it’s the smell, or maybe the bright pink flowers that attracts them to this relative of garlic and chives. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as they enjoy my garden and make themselves at home. Buzz buzz.

 

 

 

 

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Product Review: The Plant Nanny

Plant Nanny

I don’t get too excited about products for the garden unless they help me solve a problem. If they help me solve the problem and cost only a few dollars, then I get very excited. The Plant Nanny is one of those products.

I bought four of them from LeeValley this year, planning to use them to solve the difficulty I had encountered when watering my upside down tomato planters. I grow Tumbler tomatoes in my homemade planters, with a tomato plant growing from the bottom and a wave petunia cascading from the top.

Last year I found that when I watered the hanging planters much of the water simply flowed through and out the bottom. The grass grew green and tall directly under my planters.

Over time the planters soil became compacted, and I wasn’t confident that the petunias were getting as much water and fertilize as the tomatoes, or vice versa. Not only that, I had to water them virtually every day, and sometimes morning and evening if the weather was particularly hot.

The Plant Nanny solved this problem flawlessly. This simple clay funnel slowly feeds water to the soil, encouraging the plants to send their roots to wrap around the clay and ensure a constant supply of water.

You fill a pop bottle, any size, with water or water with fertilizer, screw it onto the plastic insert and slide it into the clay funnel. Place the funnel into the soil and you’re good to go. I find that a one litre bottle is perfect for my containers and lasts for about 2-3 days depending on the conditions.

On Fertilizer Fridays I add a tsp of all purpose fertilizer to the water. Fertilizer Fridays is what I call my weekly feeding day – it helps me keep track of when to add fertilizer to my watering schedule.

Kudos to the Plant Nanny for developing a simple solution to an age-old problem.

Update: Upside-Down Tomato Planters

Tumbler Tomatoes

This year I made three hanging planters and tried the “Topsy Turvy” method of growing tomatoes. Topsy Turvy is a brand name which has become associated with this type of planter, but there are other brands and numerous self-made models on the web, including my design in my April 2010 blog post.

See April 2010 Making an Upside Tomato Planter

Down Having done some research on cultivars to use, I opted for the Tumbler tomato because of its suitability to growing in containers. In my raised beds I planted a Tumbler among my regular Roma tomatoes to use as a comparison.

Two of the three plants in my upside down planters have done remarkably well; the third has suffered from poor rooting from day one. I suspect that I didn’t plant it deep enough initially, as it has never thrived. It has produced a number of tomatoes despite it lack of vitality, but it’s hanging on (literally) by a straggly thread.

A clear disadvantage to the reverse planter is that it requires a significant amount of watering as compared to the traditional method. This would be expected given that the water can run out and/or evaporate from the bottom of the planter with relative ease. I’m sure much of the water consumption could be attributed to the voracious thirst of the wave petunia I placed in the top of each planter; the petunias have grown to produce a massive display of colorful blooms.

On the positive side, I’ve had no problem with any of the typical disease and pests that affect the plants grown in the ground. My traditionally-grown plant is similar in size but spotted with a mild case of blight.

I’ve been feeding my tomatoes on a regular “Fertilizer Friday” schedule, despite having used a high quality planting soil with fertilizer incorporated. Tomatoes can be fairly heavy feeders, particularly while they are producing.

Overall I’ve been happy with the outcome. I’ve been plucking fruit on a daily basis since late June and there appears to be no end in sight to the flowering. My Romas won’t be ready for several more weeks, so having the bite-size Tumblers to munch on is a treat.

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

July 2010

These planters were filled in May with one wave petunia

These wave petunias have been outstanding