Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dirty Little Secrets

Recently, I've shared some pictures of some nice clean beds. Today, you get the dirty little secrets. Behold, the berm bed. I've done nothing to improve it this spring, mostly because there is so much to do, I'm overwhelmed. What you are viewing in this picture are multiple landscape roses drowning under ornamental oregano. You might also identify Jack Frost going to seed and getting lost under all the seedheads, and weeds, lots and lots weeds, Those white specks on the dull and not fresh looking mulch? Gazillion , gabillion maple propellars. That pot stuck around the clematis? A failed idea for a plant support.

On closer examination, the far end of the berm shows just how bad it is. After a bit of weed removal to find a place to plant some cukes, there are still weeds everywhere. They are so big and bad that I had to plant big poofy marigolds next to the cucumber seedlings so that I would be able to find the cukes again.

Sadly, the berm bed isn't the only dirty little secret that I haven't dealt with yet. There are the ant mounds. These are not small. Of course the fact that they are surrounded by grass infested with creeping charlie and various tree seedlings makes it that much worse.
I avoid spraying in my yard. That means this blob of creeping charlie (aka devil weed) gets hand removed. Ant's hate it when you pluck their landscaping. Angry ants hurt. I haven't yet decided how to deal with this mound organically. Meanwhile the creeping charilie keeps expanding.

Pretty lupines no? Look closer. Can you see the dandelion that is two feet high and easily 18 inches across. I wish I could say it was a freakish anonomoly in this bed. It's not. It has friends. How exactly does one kill dandelions with roots like Flakey carrots, organically anyway? Hey is that Endless Summer hydragnea gasping for light next to the lupines? I thought it was dead!

Ah the shade bed. At least I got the pavers down right? Alas, I can't take credit for them. My son put them down. He's eight. I paid him. My husband says I robbed him. I have no shame.
That's the backyard. The sins continue into the side yards and the front yard but I won't overload you type A's with too much ugly in one day.
I wish I could tell you I spent the weekend in the yard fixing some of this, but I didn't. The last DLS I'm sharing is the fact that I spent the weekend, stalking nurseries for cool plants, playing baseball in the yard with the kiddoes, digging up and amending a patch of soil to make it more toad friendly and hanging on the patio with mint mojito tea and a fine Gardening magazine. I did no real work in the garden whatsoever. I'm not mortified to share this. I'm relaxed. Sometimes it's good to be bad. :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rain Magic

It's not just H2O. It's better than water from the well, better than water from the faucet and better than water from the rain barrel. Rain. It has a magical effect on the garden. You can have perfect weather and the appropriate amount of hose watering and you still won't see the growth that you do after a couple of days of thunderstorms. It has been a rainy week, and the garden is loving it. Here we've an explosion of purple near the teepee, but at the base of the teepee, still not much excitement in beanland.
Plenty of excitement in greenland. Despite a big bowel of cuttings being taken just about every night, the greens are very happy. The peonies in the back are happy too, they haven't opened just yet. I've tied them up this year to try and prevent flop but they are so big, I'm not sure how much that will do.
Oops, i just realized I forgot to recover greenland. It's 9pm and the bambis will be around soon. I need to hurry up, get this posted and get them protected!
In containerland, there has been an explosion of growth. These three tomatoes all have buds that I am letting them keep now. I've even been shaking them a bit to promote fertilization. They clearly like something in this location. We've seen 6 bricks of growth since these tomatoes were planted on May 10.
Cherokee Purple is in the same kind of container on the patio, and this plant has started throwing double blossoms. They are cool but supposedly make really ugly tomatoes so I hope that particular novelty stops soon. I've been checking this plant every few days and it is like a different plant every time I see it. I think the only thing that seems to be growing faster right now is the bellflowers. They are going to need some thinning. What used to be about a foot wide exploded in the last week into a four foot wide, two foot high thing that threatens to eat an eggplant!

I have most of the maple propellers cleaned out of the circle bed and we enjoyed a bunch of chive blossoms in our salads today. The peas have finally started to grow and the peppers are very dark and healthy looking. In the wall-o water, Chocolate Stripe has tripled in size and has started to blossom. I'm very excited about this. It was a tiny plant when it went out and not a high scorer on my health scale. It's definitely turned around. Rain magic!

Long work day today. I only puttered for about thirty minutes when I got home. I planted out six corn seedlings and eight sunflower seedlings from an experiment. The roots on the corn grew crazy fast. Something to keep in mind if I try corn again. Then there was a bit of weeding and inspection before more rain started. They say this is the wettest spring we've had on record. As long as the rain stays away for at least part of the weekend, I welcome it. It's magical.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hosta Fabulous Hosta

Over the years, I've learned not to share my latest exciting hosta news with my mom. Mostly because she thinks I'm nuts. She does not understand why I drool over hosta websites and fret over quirky new hybrids when there is a whole slew of perfectly fine, you can't kill'em hosta's under her trees.

She's seen my plants and can't tell the difference. I don't mind one bit. Her lack of hosta appreciation means there is no guilt in not offering to split a special plant that took me years to grow up! One of these plants is Whirlwind. Slugs ignore it, it's always glossy and the curve of the leaves is unique and pretty.

White Christmas is another such variety. This plant has so much white that it's picky about where it lives. It's a slow grower but worth it. It lights up deep shade and looks fantastic paired with red begonia's or impatiens.

I learned my lesson about splitting special hosta's years ago with Great Expectations. This plant used to get me compliments from people walking their dogs on the street. Then I split it. It has taken years to recover and it's still not there. I think it is one of the prettiest hosta's out there but it's picky. Very.

I've read that Hosta Thunderbolt is another variety that people have trouble with as it gets older. So far, for me it's been carefree, and starting to get really big. I love big hosta's in my shady areas because they keep the weeds way down and are great looking, even from a distance.
Slugs and deer both leave Thunderbolt alone.

Liberty is a plant that the bambi's chew on every spring without fail. It doesn't hurt an established plant like this, it just looks bad. In a couple of weeks I will cut off the damaged leaves and it will look like new.

Tokudama Aureonebulosa is a full lush lovely plant that the bambi's love to snack on in the early spring. These shades of blue/green look great with every color that is placed next to it.

Paul's Glory is a massive hosta. A specimen that is super easy to grow and one that grows fast. I've never fed, trimmed weeded or otherwise pampered this big boy. It is easily 3.5 feet tall and even wider that that. You have to plan for a big plant when you plant PG. It killed one of the bushes next to it with ease. Hosta shade is dense, lol.

I hope you've enjoyed the tour of part of my hosta collection. I wish I had a camera and skills that did these plants justice. If you haven't tried hosta, give them a shot, but treat yourself to one of the fantastic hybrids that are out there. They easily beat the ten foot rule and are virtually carefree once established!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Camera Cleaning Day!

Time to get rid of miscellaneous pictures with no topic!

Bok Choi, Broccoflowerm Chard and tiny broccoli.

Allium (Gladiator). Their flower heads are smaller than is typical because these are about a decade old.

Red Coumbine. It's thriving in deep shade.

Sack o Purple Potatoes, doing well!

Foreground: hosta, to the right onions and carrots, lettuce, bok choi and geraniums. Near the back, double rows of tomatoes, allium and peonies, to the left kale, phlox and asiatic lilies.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Garden Beds: From a Distance

I love garden close-ups but today I'm doing something different. I'm posting pictures of the garden beds I blog about, from a distance. When I read other people's blogs I like to see how their gardens relate to the rest of their landscape. Today's gardening activities were mundane so instead I'm sharing pictures that show just how much grass I have to cross to get to my gardens! LOL. This is the corner bed, aka the cherry tree bed. The bean teepee is on the right and the greens are dead center. There are lots of peppers and tomatoes growing in this bed too, even with the big trees there.

This is the circle bed. For perspective, it is nine feet wide. in the foreground is a plum tree and on the other side of it is Stanley the ornamental pear tree. The new shade bed will extend along all the trees in the very back of the picture.
This is the far right end of the berm bed. Cukes will be going right behind the massive clump of hostas on the right. There is about ten feet of soil right behind them that gets near full sun, believe it or not. To the right of the swing set is an apple tree that still does great even though it's under a maple.

This is another look at the berm bed from another angle. This far away it looks tiny but it is more than ten feet wide at it's skinniest end (far left). If you check out the grass, you can see that there is not very many bright sunny places in the yard. Those places that have lots of sun have been claimed for plant beds!
These are the balcony tomatoes. They aren't hanging even. They are heavy and getting them even was hard! In fact they are so heavy the handles on the bags are starting to tear. An intervention is indicated in the next couple of days or the maters will go tumbling. To the right of the balcony is the climbing hydragnea that the baby birds have a nest in. Below the balcony is hubby's workshop window which currently has about a gazillion white t-shirts line drying in it. I was going to crop them out but decided to keep it real. Heh.
I hope you've enjoyed the backyard tour. I forgot to take pictures of the hot bed, the herb bed and the dog's igloo. You're not missing much there. I'll take a picture of it if I am successful growing melon vines over it this summer!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Where are the Bees?

I'm getting a wee bit concerned about the lack of honey bees in my garden. They should be here by now. The allium have opened and usually they are swarming with bees. Where the heck are they? I've seen bumble bees, wasps, and hummingbirds but so far no honeybees. I'm worried, particularly since on one of the gardening forums I hang out on, people are saying they have noticed the same thing, no or few honeybees. : (

I took a stab at hand pollinating some of the tomatoes today, but if this continues yields are not going to be great this year.

Bees aside, it was a fabulous day to garden today. I focused on getting the coldframe off the patio and the plants that remained in it planted. It's nice to have most of the patio back. I still have about twenty plants that need to go in the ground, but I made some nice progress today.

Planted in the garden today were lemon and dragon's egg cucumbers. They went in the hot bed, along with the watermelons katanya and blacktail mountain, and honey melon (first time growing these). My watermelon were dismal failures last year. This year I spent a lot more time prepping their bed/mound. They went in a very heavily amended, rich soil and katanya also got a wall o water put around it to try and keep the heat on it, until it gets big. My trouble with the melons last year were that they did not grow. At all. I even resorted to some of the blue crap, and that also did nothing. Fingers crossed for this year! The cukes got a little square of row cover anchored over them to try and keep the beetles off them until they get big. I'm also experimenting with a honeydew melon in a planter to see what happens.

A bunch more tomatoes went into the back garden today. My planting spaces are limited by my sun which means I don't have a lot of options for crop rotation. I tried to fight the virus issue a bit by planting the tomatoes thru row cover to keep the soil off their leaves. This should also help keep down the watering. Tomorrow, I'll mulch over it. I have my first baby tomato, it's on sungold. Lots of plants have blooms on them now and good grief the plants in the self watering containers are growing fast! I still have another dozen or so tomatoes to find a space for. They are going to go in the berm bed. Luckily, most of them are still pretty small since that soil needs a lot of work before it gets tomatoes.

Other stuff planted today included the cilantro, ANOTHER toad relocation. This little guy was hanging out under a corner of a plastic garbage bag in what was left of the coldframe. From the looks of things, he slept in the amarynth last night.

The french marigolds all went in as did the rest of the salvia, zinnia, and borage and a bunch more peppers. I won't be growing marigolds from seed again. They grew really slow for me and are still tiny. I need french marigolds to help protect the cukes, melon and peppers from beetles and nemotodes but for them to do their thing, they need to be bigger. I'll probably end up supplementing with store purchased plants. The day rounded out with some edging, replanting the chinese yellow cuke seeds, a bit of weeding, a water fight with the munchkins, helping the hub work on the fireplace and hanging in a cushy chair relaxing. A perfect day!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baby Robins

I'm the aunt to some baby robins. I get to claim kinship because I have been feeding their mother grubs for the last week. The scenario goes like this. I dig up a grub and place it on the fence post near the climbing hydragnea that the nest is in. The mother bird gives me a bunch of mad tweets and then hops down and eats the grubs. We repeat this a few times an evening. The baby bird are very quiet so far, which is good since their nest is six feet from the master bedroom sliders.

I like looking back at old blog pictures at least
once a week. If I think progress is slow, all I have to do is to look back at the last picture to prove myself wrong. The circle bed is 95% planted now. I filled the remaining spots with peppers and tomatoes tonight and then finished mulching. I have one tomato in the wall o water. It is Chocolate Stripes and it finally seems to be growing in it's little sauna so I'll leave it in there for awhile longer.

The hot box (formerly cold frame) hit 119 degrees today. Everything did OK but it inspired me to get a move on it, an move things out. Also planted in the garden tonight were celery, more zinnia, borage, and melon. It looks like I need to do a germination test on the squash, there is no sign of life on those seeds. The sunflowers, are however already coming up. Still waiting on the corn but it's only been a few days.

PS: The gazillion white spots in the grass are thousands of maple helicopters. Next year I really really need to try and wait for these things to come down before I mulch!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Naked Coldframe and Monday Updates

Two days ago I was blogging about impending frost. Tonight, it's heat. Tonight is the first night the coldframe gets to stay uncovered and without lightbulbs. The temperature was 75 today but the coldframe (ha) hit 106 degrees and it was completely uncovered. Since the forecast is for similar if not higher temps for the next five days, the next task is to get stuff out of there and get it planted a.s.a.p.


The frost was extremely light and everything came out unscathed. I've permanently removed the row cover on the circle bed, but the green bed still gets covered every night for two reasons. 1) The bambi's haven't touched a single thing in this bed since I put it down and 2) It seems to be keeping pests down. My greens have no holes in them at all! *knocks wood*

Harvesting: I'm harvesting greens and herbs from the garden and window boxes regularly now. The kids have me shocked at the way they are snarfing down these salads. The chard, bok choi and even the really weird spotted lettuce are a getting eaten, with compliments even. They say it tastes different. In kid speak, this is good.

Visitors: Toad number three has been removed from the coldframe. In this terrible picture you can sorta see the little guy peeping out of a hole that used to hold a baby celery. I named him BP (Bad Peeper) and relocated him in the back bed.

Fruits: In more thrilling news, I think I may have at least quadrupled my cherry harvest this year, or at least the potential for it. I counted at least four green cherries today. Yahoo, that's a sundae for every member of the family!

Planted: In the garden today went 1 borage, six more tomatoes, eight peppers, three eggplant, three dahlias, five salvia, four basil, and four zinnia, Seeds were started for two kinds of sunflowers and about nine stalks of sweetcorn.

Sprouting: 2 kinds of watermelon and two kinds of cucumbers are up. I also have two pathetic cilantro that went straight to stretched even though it was in sunlight it's whole life. Cilantro hates me.

Suffering: Three tomatoes that are still in containers look like they have blight and have been moved away from the other plants. Something chewed up two pepper plants. They all got aluminum collars this afternoon. All the peas look healthy but they are growing pathetically slow. The bean's around the teepee seem to be pouting too. I think I'll give them some worm tea tomorrow and see if it helps.

Doing well: All the perennials seem to have survived the winter and are starting to take off. The potatoes seem to really love their bag. I added three more inches of dirt to them again today. The leaks are still tiny but you can tell they have "took". They just sat there for two weeks but are now definitely growing. The onions are big. I need to find out if I should trim their tops. The planter carrots could be harvested if I wanted baby carrots. I'll let them go a bit more.

Multiple tomatoes already have buds. It looks like a couple of peppers are starting to throw some too, but those will get picked off. The plants are too small to be allowed to bud yet.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tomatoes Grow Up- On to Plan B

I like the concept of the Topsey Turvey. Growing tomatoes in a vertical container is an interesting idea, but I really hate the way the Topsey Turvey planter looks. To my eye the plant looks uncomfortable hanging out of the container by its stem and my eye is drawn to that ugly container, not the plant. Nevertheless, I need to find more spaces to plant all these seedlings so I decided that I would give vertical spaces a shot and the idea of the tomato fort was born.

The tomato fort was supposed to use a series of less ugly planters hanging off the balcony. In theory the tomatoes would grow down and the kids could hide out under the balcony and eat tomatoes. Sigh, the plan is flawed. Tomatoes, it seems like to grow up! When I planted this Sungold initially it was pointing nearly straight down. It didn't like that one bit and has fairly quickly rearranged itself. On to plan B.

Plan B is a foggy idea of sticking fragrant, vining sweetpea's in the same container so that they 1. help cover the ugly container and, 2. Grow down and make a sweet pea wall. Plan B is also flawed since the peas are unlikely to grow long enough to make a fort wall to the ground before freaking out from the heat. I considered using something like pole beans but sweet pea's smell way better and since this balcony is off the master bedroom I thought that might be nice. I do have some leftover corn and sunflowers. I suppose I could plant a row of those right under the balcony edge and have them grow up and the peas grow down....hmmm.

Now, changing subjects completely before I go off on some weird creative tangent of crazy garden ideas, I wanted to share some horsechestnut pictures. The blooms are so huge and tropical looking that I just love them. These whites ones are on two big mature trees at the back of the lot and they are fragrant. Just as the lilac perfume has faded, the horsechestnut scent is here!

The red blooms are on a much younger tree in the front. I'm very excited to see these blooms. I ordered this tree from a catalog years ago and it arrived as a skinny, pathetic, half dead stick. It has required a lot of babying to get established. It suffered some pretty amazing mildew attacks, and lost all it's leaves in the middle of summer twice but it pulled through and it is looking beautiful. So the tomato fort idea was a fail but Brioti was such a great win, I don't even mind. Half the fun of whacky plans is trying them out anyway. : )

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Last Frost Day-Not.

In this area, our last frost day is May 15th which was yesterday. Last frost day is a misnomer though. It does not represent the last possible day to expect frost in your area, not even close. It represents the day where your odds for not seeing anymore frost for the spring start improving.

On last frost day the odds become 50/50 that you are done with frost for the year.

Not great odds.

We've had a wet but not all that cold spring. We haven't had frost for more than a month. I started putting tenders out a couple of weeks ago, but not too many. I put out only as many as I could cover and could afford to lose. I haven't babied these plants for months to let them go to 50/50 odds. My caution was warranted. Today, the sky was cloudless and a high pressure front rolled in. Frost is forecast for tonight and tomorrow night, then hopefully we will be done. Tonight should be the worst. The low is expected to be 32, but frost can happen at even higher temperatures so I'm not counting on anything.

Today, I had hoped to put a bunch more of the big tomato plants into the ground, but the recent weather and impending frost killed that plan. The ground was way too wet from Friday's deluge and since anything I put out today would need covering tonight, there was no point in rushing things out. Instead I trimmed 200 feet of hedge. Not a fun job, particularly since it hadn't been done for a year and half, due to home renovations. I lost count of the eight foot tall trees I cut out of that the thing. Hedge trimming did give me the opportunity to yank out the biggest weeds on the neighbor's side of the hedge before they went to seed, so besides the tidy hedge, there were other gains.

Hedge trimming took me to 5 o'clock and then it was time to tuck in the plants for the night. The circle bed and greens got covered with row cover.

The potatoes were easy. I just unrolled the sides of the sack and covered them up.

I didn't do much with the tomatoes in the big container. I stuck a gallon of water in front of them and a garbage bag that is half full of composting straw behind them. Hopefully, those little things plus being against the brick will keep them safe.

On the patio, two tomatoes got a tubberware bin (a future planter) placed over them. The coldframe got a blanket put over it and it's light bulbs turned on early. In the far back of this picture you can see a contraption of chairs and cushions covering the bay leaf and tomato container.

In the cherry bed I used a gallon of water and also a wall-o-water on two more tomato plants. Unprotected tonight are all the beans. I'm hoping they are small enough that it doesn't hurt them. There are also three other tomatoes in the garden and two tomatoes hanging off the balcony that are uncovered. *fingers crossed for them all!*

One thing I can say about gardening in Chicago. It's never ever dull!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Scaredy Toad

When I get home from work each night, I have a routine. Let out the dog, change my shoes and inspect the plants. When I was checking on the plants in the coldframe today, I was surprised to see multiple weeds growing at the base of one of my tomato seedlings.

I went to yank the offending weeds and gack, they moved! A closer look revealed that it wasn't the weeds that moved at all!

There was a toad in my pot! The little bugger must have moved in last night. We had some pretty atrocious storms and I guess the pot looked inviting. I have no idea how he hurdled a stack of five bricks to get in the coldframe. Maybe he's Super Toad and not Scaredy Toad. He sure wasn't scared when I weeded all around him. He just sat there staring at me. I named him Cherokee in honor of the plant I found him under and relocated him to the squishy dirt under the hosta near the lettuce bed. Hopefully he'll hang around and knock out any slugs that dare attack my lettuce.

Once he was relocated I was able to transplant four more peppers and six basil into the circle garden tonight. I also plant another hanging tomato (Sungold) off the balcony and began to rig up some very low supports for my pathetic peas to cling too. If the darn things won't grow, I'll stretch them! Heh.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tasty Containers

I plant edibles in containers for a number of reasons. "Mojito" Mint goes in a container because I don't want my yard overtaken with something that smells like a fabulous rum drink. It sounds pretty good, but it would be too much of a good thing. Mojito is sharing this container with a couple of pansies and a baby borage. Borage is in the container to attract bee's to the tomato plant hanging above it.

Above it, and off the balcony I have the first of several tomato plants (Sungold) growing in a strawberry bag with some nasturium. The tomato is in the bag to hopefully hang down and contribute to a tomato fort under the balcony. It's also in a bag because I planted more tomato seeds than I have sunny places for tomato plants. The nasturium is in the bag to hopefully hide the ugliness that is this bag! I think I need more nasturiums. My copper stained glass hanger is pretty but man this bag is ugly. I need more vines fast. I wonder if kudzu grows in Illinois.

This container has oregano that wintered over. Matina tomato got added when it out grew the coldframe. It's sort of tilty right now because I propped a cushion over it last night to protect it from the cold, and the cushion shifted. Result, squished Matina. Behind the Matina is a Bay Leaf. It's a trial to see if I can winter it over and have fresh bay leaves for soup all winter. There is also some purple basil in there for contrast and a zinnia for show.
Purple and Carnival carrots are in a container because they grow so great there. Carrots love container soil and if your variety is thin you can cram a whole lot of carrot in an average size container. Carrots don't get any friends in their container because I don't want their roots disturbed but that's OK. Their foliage definitely has a worthy stand alone type look.

Still to come, this year I want to try cucumbers in a container as well as some peppers to see if they will get me an earlier harvest. My main container tip? Place them near a water supply or you will not water them as much as they require.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Self Watering Tomato Container

Earthboxes are a patented container with a large reservoir. They are available for purchase at most large nurseries. They are nice systems that allegedly increase tomato production by 15%. They are also said to make your harvest nearly one month earlier. Unfortunately, they are pricey. They start at $69 for the box. The tomato cage is x-tra.

Instructions for making your own version of these have been available at Tomato Fest for a couple of years. These instructions are fabulous; with both pdf and video explanations they are easy to follow. My only problem with the design is that it requires the wasting of almost 1/2 of a huge plastic container. That is just too much plastic waste for me to be comfortable with. Today my mission was to make a version for under $25 that had no waste.
The container I selected was a 37 gallon gray rubbermaid for $16. I wanted something a little smaller but they were out of them. I went with it and decided I would plant three plants in it, instead of two. Gray was chosen because black might have cooked the roots.

Earthtainer instructions tell you to cut a separate container in half to make your platform for this container. I deviated from those directions. And decided to use the inner part of the cover for the platform. I used a skillsaw to cut out the whole center following the depressed line around the edge. You have to be careful with this step, go slow and control vibration or chunks will crack off.

Once it's cut out, it fits easily into the container. There will be gaps around the side, but that's OK. We take care of that later.

The next step is to cut a hole for the wicking basket. Your hole should only be about 4"x4". The pond basket I bought for $2.34 at Lowes, was about twice that size, but you still want the hole to be 4x4 or your soil will be too wet. Draw a square in the center of the platform. It need not be exact. Drill a pilot hole and then cut out the hole with a skillsaw.
Next, cut a curve out of the side of the platform to fit the PVC filling tube you will use to keep your reservoir full. The diameter of the tube isn't important. Select a size you are comfortable using with your hose. Rest your PVC on the bottom of the box (box not platform) and measure about 2" above the edge of the box. Cut it to that height.

Almost done with set-up! It took me two hours to get to this point believe it or not. This was because I didn't realize the drill had two speeds. I had to wait for the hubby to get home to reach the PVC scraps for me and then I had to wait for the dumb drill battery to recharge for an hour!

There will be a lot of weight on this platform. I deviated from the Tomatofest instructions again here by giving the platform legs. I used scrap 2x2 because that's what was laying around. They will likely only last a season because they will be in water all summer. That's OK, they are free. I cut the legs to the height of the top of the basket and then screwed them to the platform with a drywall screw. One in each corner and then two in the middle of the sides. The basket rests on the bottom and holds up the center of the platform. Before attaching the legs I cut drainage holes with a pretty big drill bit all over the bottom. The drill bit was about the diameter of my pinkie. Don't worry, soil won't fall thru these holes. We take care of that in a moment.

The hard part is done! Next is the overflow hole in the side of the tub. This hole assures you don't overfill the container or waterlog it after rainstorms. There should be an air space between the bottom of the platform and the top of the water. Put the platform in the container, measure about one inch below the platform height, and drill a drainage hole about the diameter of your pinkie. Use the same drill bit to drill a bunch of holes in the bottom of the PVC pipe. Make sure all the holes are lower than the level of the platform. These holes allow water to flow into your reservoir. Finally, take somewire or plastic ties and secure the basket under the 2x2 hole by wiring it to a couple of the drainage holes..

The next step takes care of the gaps at the edge of the platform. Cut a piece of landscaping fabric long enough to cover the bottom and both ends of the container, and overlap it about four inches over each end of the container. Cut a square hole in the fabric where the hole for the basket is.
Now move the container to where it's final place will be. It will be more than 150 pounds when full and you won't want to move it again. Now fill the reservoir with water until water comes out of the overflow hole.

Next pack potting mix (NOT POTTING SOIL! and not moisture retention potting soil) into the basket. Pack it well, it's important for proper wicking. Once soil mounds on top of the fabric covering the platform, spread about two inches of potting mix and soak it completely. Then put down another two inches and soak it. Repeat until the the soil comes right to the edge. Sprinkle a balanced organic fertilizer around the top edges of your soil and if indicated, add dolomite lime.

Now it's your choice, you can either place a plastic garbage bag over the top and cuts slits in it to plant your plants or you can plant your plants and lay a couple of garbage bags down on either side of them. Once the bags are down, lower the the lid to secure the garbage bags at the edges. The Tomatofest site has awesome directions for making a tomato cage (which you need to make before your fill the container.) I didn't got that route. I put my container against the house and will be building a cage around the container.

Sorry about the blurry last picture. I was in a rush to finish because the family wanted to take me to see Earth. Tomorrow I will go out and trim up the plastic, straighten out Carbon and remove the green poles which I won't be using.

This was a super easy, project and knowing that I saved roughly $40 made it that much sweeter.