Of all the tips I could give you about successfully growing zucchini and growing squash the most is space. These suckers will expand! However this should not discourage my container or patio gardeners at all! You just need to be smart about where you place these garden divas. For example, this year my deck is one of two container gardens. This will serve as a great place for growing zucchini and growing squash because of the 12 hours of sunlight they will get.
What not to do: Now, my first attempt at growing zucchini and growing squash was rough. They did really well but had a negative impact on the other plants around them. They were so big they themselves created shade over other crops that required full sun just as much as they did. They also just dominated the space and forced other plants to grow smaller.
What works better: So this year I am growing them in containers. This will contain the diva and her greatness and allow me to rotate her as she expands. I'll also be placing these containers on various plant stands. If you are the beautiful mastermind behind a small space garden this year, chances are you'll need to create height. Here is one that I highly recommend adding to your garden; click here to check it out. Getting plants off of the ground is vital! THIS IS THE TRICK. By raising my zuccs and squash I'm harnessing the power of self-created shade. By elevating these plants their long stems will be in the air and create shade under which I can then place another container veggie, preferably a shade friendly one. This allows me to, in one very full sun area, grow a plant with completely different needs! Bam! Vertical gardening in all types of ways!!!
Listen, Linda! You have found your list of tips and tricks to growing peppers all year long. There are all types of peppers in the world from mild to a little heat, to burn your tongue to sweet! For anyone getting their feet wet with peppers or wanting to step it up a notch with something a little different, growing peppers will be a breeze.
#1: Certain plants come with a natural back up plan. Peppers (and tomato plants) have the ability to grow new roots up the stem or stalk. This is especially handy when growing plants from seeds and experiencing leggy seedlings. If this happens, gently scoop them up and repot them a little deeper. You can go all the way up to the leaves. It’s a plant super power. You’ll also need to address what caused the legginess so that you don’t recreate the problem again. Leggy seedlings are almost always a result of not having enough light.
#2: Being tough little suckers I have successfully grown pepper plants in the best of soil and the worst of soil. Was it more work in poor soil? YUP! Water retention was a pain. However, my pepper plants have always been the last to show wilted leaves if i was running late from work. Better soil will always assist in a plant's health and higher yield. But when I had challenging soil my peppers still had my back. For any gardener I would recommend Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.
#3: Support is the next item of business to growing pepper plants. Pepper plants don’t typically grow to extreme heights although the banana peppers I grew last season grew to about 5.5 feet tall and became quite a challenge to support as all of my taller trellis were already dedicated to other plants in the garden. Some varieties will grow to a certain height and won’t pass that. Some will just keep on growing. Know your variety and you’ll know how to better care for your pepper plant. Regardless, I would recommend supporting your plant. I find that plants with support use their energy to grow food and not to hold themselves up, even if they can! A few trellis options would be this pack of bamboo stakes. One pack would serve a garden well. Another option for short plants would be these support trellises.
#4: Much like tomatoes, pepper plants can be classified as either determinate or indeterminate. You’ll need to know the difference in terms of supporting your plant and if and when to prune them. If your pepper plant is determinate, leave it be! It will on its own, reach its max height and then stop. You DON’T need to cut this plant from the top to keep it from growing bigger. You’ll only be stealing height from your plant.
If growing tomatoes is on your garden list this year then this list of tips and tricks to growing tomatoes is just for you! Tomatoes come in all types of varieties, colors, tastes and uses. Some will stick to the description and others will, well...do whatever the heck they want! I had one pretty organized tomato jungle last year that grew several feet past their expectancy and produced hundreds of tomatoes. Follow this list and you'll be on your way too!
Tomato Tip #1:
Plant with a purpose. So tell me your tomato goal. Is it to slice and enjoy on the burgers you grill all summer? Are you looking for salad toppers like cherry tomatoes? Or are you ready to try your hand at making tomato sauce? The world of tomato varieties is extremely vast. They are several tomato options for every tomato goal you desire, so plant with a purpose! Go ahead and pick a variety that matches your chef’s hat in the kitchen.
Tomato Tip #2:
Cheat! Yup, you heard me....or did you read me? It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, there is no harm in starting from seed or purchasing a small tomato plant. In fact, my gardens each year usually consist of both plants that I've started from seed, purchased at a local nursery or big chain store. Do what works for you!
Tomato Tip #3:
Know the difference between determinate and indeterminate. I feel like the word pruning is used very heavily in the gardening sphere but without caution. Please, please don't go snipping away without being familiar with these terms. Determinate varieties are limited in height. Think of them as bushes. They have a max height of around 4ft. Don't cut them to prevent them from growing any taller. What you cut off in height, you'll lose. Now, indeterminate (my fav) will just keep on doing their thing. Last year I was on a ladder and had my mom holding me by my pants to clip the tops of my tomato plants. And guess what...they grew back the next week. The best pain in my butt ever!
Tomato Tip #4:
Support! They're some gardeners that experience a better tomato growth and harvest when staking their tomato plants. There are others who feel like the caged way makes the experience better. In the past staking my tomato plants have aided in less disease. But I actually prefer both. Here's why...staking my tomato plants allows for neatness in my garden. This is important because they absolutely grow sideways and bend over and grow in a different direction! Sometimes tomato plants just do whatever the heck they want. Staking helps with their natural wildness. I also prefer cages simply for the limbs of the tomato plants. A tomato cage will aid in the chaos of the limbs. And let me tell you...there will be limbs! With limbs that grow in every direction and sometimes on top of one another, tomato cages keep the crazy in their lane. You can't prevent the crazy, it's a part of their beauty but you can keep it in its zone. For individual stakes I would recommend these bamboo stakes and for a caged approach I would recommend these tomato cages.
Last but not least…
Tomato Tip #5:
Give a green tomato a try. Once your plants are established and producing a harvest don't be afraid of the legendary fried green tomato! Glitter Green Thumb is all about encouraging you to grow your best garden each year. Some of my best moments in the garden come from experiments and testing along the way. If you hit a wall be sure to come back here and ask away.
Don't forget I Iove ya from my head to ma toes.😉
I love having a container garden. In fact, I run a container garden every year in addition to my raised bed. Container gardens are great for two main reasons. Number One: they expand your space. Whether you have zero outdoor space, a small patio or front door space or the biggest yard ever, with a container garden you can grow a whole lot more. Second, CONTROL. My first year running a garden in my super small front yard was full of hope and disappointment. I turned over the dirt to make room for all of the roots to come. I bought my seeds and plant food and I found success. I had lots of lovely seedlings growing everywhere. And then...nothing. As it turns out, my soil was crap. Poor soil will ruin your garden and any hopes you had. Sure there are some plants that can grow in just about anything. But if you want to expand your garden options, control of your soil is key. Here’s a potting soil (for container or flower pots) that I recommend:
It’s true. I really do love my number one top pick from my head tomatoes...ha! Couldn’t resist. This is by far the toughest plant in my garden. If you follow me on my instagram @glittergreenthumb, then you know I moved to a new house in the middle of the summer 2018. I was so worried about my plants. Of all the plants and herbs in the garden my tomatoes proved to be the strongest. They endured being uprooted, photo-oped, replanted and still went on to grow new stems and even a few more tomatoes. Was the move a set back for the garden? Sure it was! But not everything struggled. Even before the big move my tomato plants produced over 70 tomatoes including the cherry tomatoes! If you’re growing tomatoes you’ll need to support them. For individual stakes I would recommend these bamboo stakes and for a caged approach I would recommend these tomato cages.
Cucumbers are another hardy plant that will produce at a high level as long as its basic needs are met. You will need a trellis or support structure for your cucumbers. They grow very tall and if you are growing this yummy item in a vegetable container garden you need to GROW UPWARDS! There are all sorts of trellis and support structures. When picking a type of cucumber to grow feel free to keep it simple. There are so many varieties out there but you want something that has been voted well by others and can hold its own in a salad or as a light snack.
#3 Green Beans
My bean of choice is the Kentucky Wonder, as I live in Kentucky now. Not only was it the best green bean I had ever tasted (once my mom put it in a pot) but it was also extremely tough. The garden suffered from beetles last summer and they showed no mercy on my Kentucky Wonder plants. But nevertheless, those beans persisted. I was completely amazed at the resilience of this plant. I would not leave it out of my garden. For every beetle that came, it seemed a new leaf would develop. I saw very little wilting if I missed watering them in the summer heat.
There are so many varieties of peppers to pick from. I am a fan of the classic green & red pepper. This past summer I nearly burned my lips off with a spicy banana pepper! But everyone else loved them. Of course, you have your normal banana peppers that can be pickled and those are yummy! The options are endless. Typical support trellises don’t have to be too tall. Peppers are tough plants that have always been the last to get droopy if I forgot to water them. They are awesome just sliced up to eat, sauteed in a pan or can make a dish extra fancy!
AHHHH! If you love versatile green veggies like me, then cucumbers are absolutely the way to go. This post is all about why you should never run any type of garden without cucumbers. Whenever I start growing cucumbers the end result is always pickles! All of the other benefits along the road to my favorite summertime snack just gets me even more excited about growing cucumbers.
Here at Glitter Green Thumb we’re all about empowering you to grow your best garden every year and the best of gardens are smart about their space! The cucumber plant is an EXCELLENT climber. And yes, there are all sorts of varieties out there designed to not grow past a certain height (I believe the fancy term is bush variety). But if you’re into vertical gardening then there is no need to shy away from the tall growing or traditional varieties. You can also check out my post on Vertical Gardening to learn more about it.
Various varieties will also offer different colors and shapes and taste. I have two types of cucumbers growing in the garden this year. One is just for pickling, promising to remain crisp and the other is called a Gherkin. These tiny bundles of joy will grow in as miniatures and off the vine will already have a sweet pickled taste. Both of these varieties will require a trellis that they will naturally climb on their own.
This is what I love about growing cucumbers. They're pretty much the shining example of vertical gardening to increase your space. The little legs or tentacles they grow take on a spiral form that like nature's super glue will hold on to just about any support structure or trellis that you provide it. I’d recommend this trellis for your cucumbers. I'm particularly proud of the upcycling project I completed, converting an old security fence into a trellis! You can read about that in Upcycle Project: From Security Gate to Garden Trellis.
My next reason for including cucumbers in your garden is just how hardy those suckers are. I've yet to come across a variety that wasn't determined to grow! Cucumbers are always the first to germinate and even more importantly they produce so quickly! The most rewarding aspect of running your own veggie garden is when you get to harvest your hard work. Cucumbers always give me a boost of confidence as new baby cucumbers are always popping up! The growth rate to harvest is really quick for most cucumbers and will give you a harvest on a regular basis throughout the summer. My experience has been a weekly harvest!
For any gardening newbie or seasoned pro I would totally encourage you to include cucumbers in your container or patio garden, raised bed or land. From salad toppers, to finger sandwiches, pickles to cucumber water to healthy smoothies and taking a hit on those dark circles under your eyes...why would you not grow cucumbers. But again I must stress the awesomeness of pickles. Until next time gardeners!
Warning! If you’re growing kale, this crop will test your patience the most! It follows a similar path as all cool weather crops in the beginning. The germination period, that cute little seedling that first pops up. Both stages seemed to be a few days behind all of the other plants that I had. I recall transplanting my kale seedlings and they always looked very healthy but were really small and growing very slowly. A month after being transplanted, BOOM! They nearly doubled in size in about two weeks and produced fresh, new leaves all summer long.
When it comes to kale, you cannot doubt it. And that’ll be hard. You’ll be growing other plants that’ll look like they're doing better than kale. When you have a slow growing plant in a garden that is otherwise booming and blooming it can give the impression that the slow growing plant is sick or dying off. That’s not always the case! It’s just taking its sweet little time.
It’s also important to remember that kale is a cool weather crop. Kale will benefit from shade as your garden moves from spring to summer. If you don’t naturally have shade where you are growing your kale see my post on Vertical Gardening and you’ll be set.
In other kale related issues, keep clipping to keep your kale plants happy. Never clip or cut down to the core of the plant. Rather wait for more leaves to develop on the outer rings. Think of the core as the life support of the plant. Don’t cut into that and you’ll be good to go! Fun Fact: there is no reason you can’t grow kale in a container. Check this container out for your garden.
For a while broccoli was a veggie that I would avoid in the garden. I just didn't want to sacrifice the space. And it wasn't until I started increasing my vertical gardening and suddenly had more patio floor space (I know, duh) that I realized I was totally missing out! These days I have a raised bed, patio garden and upper deck to grow on but if you grow broccoli in a container you'll have plenty to go around. So here are my tips and tricks for growing broccoli, container style!
Tip #1: If you’re in an area that has winter, broccoli lets you get started early. This baby is a cool weather crop and a great plant to get going indoors during the last few weeks of winter or outside for direct sowing in the early cool weather of the spring.
Tip #2: One plant per container. Have you ever brought a head of broccoli before? Give that lovely the space that it needs. Yes, if you have a super larger container you could grow more than one head of broccoli but (usually) the bigger the pot, the deeper it is. That depth could be used to grow a plant that really needs the extra space to thrive.
Tip #3: Size matters a little less. This is broccoli done container style so we’re skipping the raised bed or directly into the ground. My broccoli has done extremely well in a medium sized container similar to this option. My guess (and soon to be experiment) that it would still produce a good sized, albeit smaller head of broccoli in a small container as well.
I’ll be sure to update you on the results!
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