Container Garden Update

Organic Container Garden Our container garden is doing quite well this year! After an early on loss of most of our seedlings (I have not yet mastered the art of transplanting seedlings), I ordered organic vegetable plants online and replanted our garden. I would say things are going quite well with our garden tower and our second batch of plants!

I had a few doubts about whether or not the garden tower would work at first, but those have been quickly put to rest. I am definitely going to order a second tower for our deck next year. Even our neighbor who thought I was nuts for this purchase is impressed with how well it is working.

The Basics of Organic Gardening

Organic Gardening - The 5 Basics

Organic food can be extremely expensive to buy, and it is disheartening to hear about guidelines that allow certain chemicals to be used on organic produce (defeats the purpose, and extremely misleading in my opinion). We are hoping that this summer’s crop will greatly help offset the cost and give us peace of mind that what we are eating is truly, completely organic.

Image courtesy of visual.ly

Our New Garden Tower

Garden Tower ProjectWe ordered a garden tower from the good folks at gardentowerproject.com a few weeks ago. The weather here in Chicago has finally gotten to the point that it seems safe to move our seedlings outdoors, so today was planting day! Set up was super easy, although you should definitely try to get it in it’s final spot before filling it with soil and water as it can become quite heavy (my mistake – I will have to let it dry out a little once the plants are established so I can move it). I think this will work great though! It fits more plants than we could otherwise grow in a huge garden plot and will use just a fraction of the water. I love the fact that we can use it to compost as well. These would be a wonderful way to expand the usability of a greenhouse too. Overall I am extremely happy with this purchase and highly recommend it!

I can’t wait to see how things fill out once the plants settle in, some of the poor things are still in shock from being transplanted. Our pepper seedlings seemed to separate quite well, and even if only a portion make it to maturity, we will still have a massive pepper crop this season. We also have several tomato seedlings, cabbage, collards, pumpkins, squash, and a bunch of herbs that over wintered indoors. I think that because we do have the ability to move the tower indoors for the winter I will try starting a new batch of seedlings to grow in the autumn. We are very pleased with this find!

Bell Pepper Seedlings

Bell Pepper SeedlingsI planted a bunch of bell pepper seedlings we had saved from a few peppers last year.  I wasn’t expecting to see quite this level of germination!  Next time I do this I will need to spread them out better.

It appears that we will be eating a ton of peppers this summer!  I just hope that the garden tower I ordered gets here soon so we can start moving all of our seedlings to a more spacious home.  Great to see that these germinate so well though.  As a beginner gardener I still have much to learn, but being able to grow your own food is very empowering.

Now I just need to figure out how to separate these little guys without harming them.  Hmmmm.

How To Grow A Pineapple From a Pineapple Top

Grow A Pineapple From a Pineapple TopI intended to do this as an update post to show how the pineapple I first planted 2 years ago has progressed, but it seems I never wrote a post about it then.  My little pineapple friend had outgrown it’s original pot, so I transferred it over to a larger home and added a new friend for it in its original place.

To plant a pineapple from the scraps, leave 1/2″ inch or so of the fruit when you remove the top.  Check underneath to see if there are any brown dots around the edges (these are the root buds).  If you don’t, keep removing thin slices of the fruit until you do.  Now carefully remove the lower 1 inch of the leaves so you have a small stem exposed.

This next part I have seen conflicting information about.  Some say to allow the pineapple top to dry for a few days before planting and others say to place it in water.  The little pineapple top below was done with the water method, and it doesn’t look quite as good as planting the pineapple top dry (how I did the larger plant above).  Both plants looked slightly unhappy at first before perking up though, so the smaller plant still might have a chance.  Even though it is a bit dry around the edges, there is some promising new growth in the center.  Either way you do this, water around the outside of the plant and not at the center as it can cause rot.  When planting, do not allow any soil to fall into the center of the plant or cover the stem with soil, only cover up to the top of the fruit.

Pineapples like well drained soil, so you can add vermiculite to the soil to help with this and keep them in a pot that drains.  Water daily to keep the soil wet, but not water logged, for the first week.  Water once a week after they are established and keep them in a place where they can get plenty of sun.

For those in a cooler climate, pineapples can be kept in pots and moved inside over the winter.  They will die if the temperature falls to 32 degrees or lower.  We move ours indoors well before that point to keep them happy.

Growing Sweet Potato Vines From Scraps

Growing Sweet Potatoes From ScrapsSince I want to try growing sweet potatoes in our hanging baskets this summer, I needed to start a few vines. I had a few potatoes that needed some bad spots removed before cooking, so I saved the ends from those for this experiment. They are in a dish with a small amount of water on a table in our sunroom. I can see tiny purple sprouts starting already on two of the ends! I will update again once they have more growth to show.

Natural Swimming Ponds


Swimming ponds are something that I am very interested in. When we finally have a chance to move to a place with more land, I am definitely going to build one of these – by myself of course! This particular video explains the natural filtration methods quite well. This could be done using solar energy as well for an even greater degree of sustainability. I am not a fan of ponds that look overly manmade though, so mine will be more of a natural design.

Growing Sweet Potatoes In Hanging Planters

Growing Sweet Potatoes In Hanging Planters
Image credit: Grow Food Not Lawns

This is a great idea for those with limited gardening space! You won’t exactly be growing sweet potatoes in bulk, but you could make a great salad from the leaves and I like the idea of hanging plants being edible as well as beautiful. This is additional food garden square footage I had not yet considered. I need to do an experiment propagating some sweet potato vines soon so they have a chance to sprout before the weather gets warm!

Caution: while sweet potato leaves are not poisonous, common potato leaves are so don’t eat the leaves from those!