Some summers are meant for gardens that only a long Alaskan winter can inspire. They are well planned beauties that encompass every bit of space your yard (and sometimes the neighbor’s) can sustain. If you are like me and have just moved and are spending every waking moment working like a mad woman to get the inside of your home in order before the fish come in and the berries are on, smaller scale gardening is a must. The home we are in does not have any raised boxes, or soil that is quality enough to use, so building boxes can wait. In the wee hours of the morning, I do find myself longing to dig in the rich dark soil that seems to be life itself. What is a person to do if you need to garden “Outside the Box”?
As one who moves every two to four years, this type of summer is quite normal and my first go to for a gardening fix are hanging baskets. You can purchase many varieties; plastic, wire with cocoa mat, wood. The materials, shapes, and sizes are only limited by your imagination and arm strength – remember, you have to lift what you plant and hang it!
My first choice has always been wire baskets and cocoa mats. I have found that by using not only the visible dirt on top for planting, but also cutting into the sides and base of the cocoa, I can achieve a full, lush looking basket with little more effort than just planting on top. Keep in mind, that if your basket is loaded with items that require you to drop the basket for maintenance, bottom planting will make this task difficult. Successful years have produced lush floral displays as well as roma tomatoes growing out of the bottom and lettuce adorning the crown – hanging salad one might say! With moose, this is my choice this summer, as our porch is the only place fenced.
Who doesn’t love to go out their door in the morning with a steaming “cuppa” and survey their domain; dreaming of the goodness that is waiting to emerge from their well planned and tended soil? Despite not having a large box area to plant in I am not discouraged. Containers are my constant companion with each move we make. Just a month ago, I was giving away my latest rooted lovelies to neighbors with the caviat, “Just take it home and plant it and put the container back in front of my garage.” Yes, keeping containers is a great plan. Not only does it save your budget, but often I find that I have become accustomed to a specific size and style, so knowing it is on hand makes container gardening a breeze.
A real plus of containers it the ability to move them once planted if the original area is not suitable to the needs of plants (sun, wind, moisture, space) forward thinking container gardeners will place their larger pots on wheels for ease in moving throughout the season. Remember that with containers, drainage holes are a must so the roots don’t drown. I tend to drill holes, then place a single layer of weed block fabric over the holes and cover with small diameter gravel before adding soil.
There are times, where a person just has to embrace the situation they are presented with as a gardener. One of my favorites, was a move to Ketchikan. Our property was at the end of what seemed to be civilization. Trees were everywhere, and when you live in the woods, there is deadfall. Did you know that with a chainsaw and a bit of time they hollow out to make the cheeriest of planters?
This picture is of a tulip trough we planted in Ketchikan. Upended trees with plantings in the root ball are also spectacular beauties as displayed in Juneau at the upside down gardens, https://www.glaciergardens.com
Why not embrace the unusual and re-use and recycle nature at it’s best?
If your yard is more of the car and truck variety with all the tires that go with the array of rigs, try rolling those tires over, place a bit of weed block in the bottom, fill them with nutrient rich soil and grow anything from rhubarb, potatoes, zucchini, carrots….again, what you can plant is limited by your height of soil (stack those tires, by all means) and creativity. I have a friend who paints her tires and then stacks them. What a beautiful bit of functional yard art she creates!
As the summer progresses, with all of these “outside the box” styles of gardening, one must remember the same basics as with raised boxes and ground gardening. Begin with supurb soil, maintain proper temperature and nutrient health, but most importantly, be sure to adequately water. Baskets, containers, and unconventional planters will loose amazing amounts of moisture if not tended properly.
Hopefully, your yards are in proper order, plants are happily growing in raised boxes, and the moose have found their way to a yard other than yours. If that is not the case and you are needing a bit of a gardening fix, give one of these simple gardening methods a try. Success and “outside the box” gardening happiness await you.