Garden season has officially hit upstate New York! We have to wait around here until after Memorial Day for our “last frost” date. So I planted up my cedar whiskey barrels a week or so ago.
Now, those of you who have filled up planters know they can take a LOT of soil. I use the square foot intensive gardening method in my raised vegetable beds to get as much produce from as little room as possible. To keep it organic, and to give the plants the maximum amount of nutirents, I mix up my own soil mix based on Mel’s Soil Mix from the Square Foot Gardening website. The mix is peat moss, compost and vermiculite.
While each of these items isn’t that expensive on it’s own, when you are making enough to fill a 4X8 bed and 13 or so planters, it can run into some cash. I feel that this is one of those instances where spending some money is worth it-I only have to mix up the soil once and then just amend it with some compost each year to have the perfect growing medium for my plants.
Although spending the money is worth it, it does NOT make sense to just waste it. Most plants only grow in the top 6 inches of soil. So why fill a planter with 12-16 inches of soil? I did some research online, and asked my friends over at Frugal Living @ About.com, and decided that I could fill the bottom of the planters up with just about anything.
I used leftover plastic plant 6 packs, plastic margarine tubs (with the lid on), tin cans, soda bottles, glass jars with lids, 6″ plastic pots from geraniums last yera and anything else I could find that would fill up space and still allow water to flow through. I pretty much emptied out my recycle bin-Reduce, Recycle, Reuse!
Viola! The planters were filled with 1/2 the soil. Good for me, good for the environment, and as a bonus the planters stayed light enough for me to move them by myself!
And if you are wondering, I used the planter to plant winter squash, summer squash, melons and pole beans in. The summer squash and pole beans are placed to the side of the deck and there will be strings run from the planters up to the posts on the deck, and the winter squash and melons are on double stacked planters so they have some room to grow down.
Just for fun, here is a “before” picture of the Sq Ft garden a few days before Memorial Day. I’ll take some “after” shots once the rain stops of all my veggies.