Vegetable Container Gardening

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Vegetable Container Gardening

Welcome to the Cooperative Extension Webinar series. Today’s topic is all about container gardening and this really ties in with our new food system focus area that have for the Master Gardener program which is all about encouraging folks to grow some of their own food and how can we be more self-sufficient really and container gardening is a great way to do that because it allows you to grow food wherever you are and kind of change the conditions based on wherever you put your container rather than being stuck with what you have in the ground. So today we have Richards Suls teaching us Thank you very much Richard. He is a Master Gardener from the class of 2015 I’ve had the pleasure of working with him over the years. He actually has taken on some great leadership roles behind the scenes but more recently he’s become a speaker and an educator for us and he is excited. He actually has been container gardening for over 15 years. He does this both indoors outdoors in greenhouse structures and he’s also a world traveler. Sso he’s going to be sharing good research-based gardening information with you all so that we can help you be more successful gardeners. By the end – we are going to record this session we’ll post it on our YouTube page our Cooperative Extension YouTube page you know within the week and we will also be kind of putting a little evaluation survey into the chat box so we appreciate everybody taking that evaluation so we can know what kind of an impact all of these good workshops are having. Again if you have questions today please enter them right into the chat box. You can enter them throughout the presentation. We’ll really make this interactive and wow, we’re up to seventy four participants. Thank you all for being here this is so exciting and I will now – I am happy to introduce my friend the wonderful Master Gardener Richard Suls. Thank You Vanessa and thank you everybody for joining us and welcome. I’d like to direct you to the screen that I’m sharing now which is the start of my presentation. As Vanessa said, if you have any questions please feel free to put them in the chat box. As I’ve given these talks over the years I found that is better to discuss things as they come up so don’t be shy please So starting, just as an overview of the URI Master Gardeners. We are a Cooperative Extension of URI and we’re here to bring science-based information to you all. The University of Rhode Island is Rhode Island’s land-grant institution which means it has this three pronged mission with the Master Gardeners, teaching research and extension. The Cooperative Extension is the arm that we’re involved in and there’s a Cooperative Extension University in every state in the United States. So these are our guiding principles. As you can see, we’re dedicated to Rhode Island’s people and their communities, to the food and social justice of Rhode Island. And to be perfectly honest this is a new slide for me, it’s very cute, but this is part of our new way of reacting to the most recent crisis and how people are getting more interested in taking control of their food in growing some of their food and in being more grassroots about the food personal process and food system This slide basically is just kind of an overview of some of the things that the Master Gardeners do. It’s really on the top right you see that’s the gardening hotline which, when people were allowed to gather there were a group of volunteers who would answer phone calls, emails and provide information to people in the state for free. It had a great response, great turnout I think it was very useful for many many Rhode Islanders and other local New Englanders. Soo this page here… I would like to mention we still have the gardening hotline available via email service if folks can still send in questions to us remotely at [email protected] I will put that right in the chat. Sorry to interrupt. So this slide here is one of the – one of two pages that we have, we have many other resources on our website. You can see the link at the bottom this is available by going directly to the URI Master Gardener page and the gardening resources site and what this here essentially is a calendar to give you an idea of when to plant the average edible foods that people would be growing in this area so you’ve got it organized basically by plant, by month and then you can see if you take a quick look you can see planting for crowns, for cloves, starting seeds indoors, directly

seeding them into the garden, and transplanting seedlings so this is very helpful in terms of getting an idea of when to start. Maybe some of you were like me where you’re chomping at the bit It’s been really nice weather, you want to get stuff into the ground now but you know from experience that it can get kind of cold in that third month of May and so we could potentially have a frost sometime this week though I think probably passed it So container gardening: and this is – this slide right here is basically the table of contents of what I will be speaking to. The advantages the drawbacks. We’re going to talk about containers the type of containers and why you might select certain containers. I will discuss growing media, my favorite type of growing media, and other options and how to fertilize water and care for your plants once they’re in your container So as you can see types of container vegetables gardening or containers. You can see people used old soda bottles or water bottles on the top left, basic wooden based boxes on the bottom left, something more of a self- watering or Earthcare style pot in the top right, which are very helpful or helpful for plants like tomatoes, and then in the bottom right you can see your standard terracotta or plastic terracotta style pots and we’ll go over all of the advantages and disadvantages of these in a moment What to grow. You can see a beautiful picture that I have here, some very easy succulents these plants will more or less tolerate not being watered for long periods of time, not being given attention for long periods of time. They are very simple easy and beautiful ornamental plants so if you feel uncomfortable starting with some things that you feel you might overwater, under water, forget for a week, any of these, succulents are really a good start because they will allow you to ignore them quite frankly for months at a time in some cases Bbut if you’re looking for food or if you’re looking to grow things in a container that will yield more results than some pretty fractally kind of succulents then you might want to start with things like tomatoes or beans. Beans are very easy to grow. Lettuce, you can direct seed. I have a small flat that was a milk carton or a milk, plastic milk container. I filled it with soil, sewed seeds for lettuce on top of it and I put it out on my deck and then I can just cut lettuce as I want to eat it and it continues to regrow out of that pallet Peppers, radishes, spinach, peas. Peas are another very easy and quick one, something you can get in the ground right now if you wanted to or into a container. Right now and when I say into the ground I am generally referring to raised beds. An almond milk quart container? Kay Marian asked like an almond milk quart container? You can use any kind of container. Really I would recommend that go back you can see there’s a lot of green build up on those water bottles that’s because when you have some kind of container that has some light allowed into it the algae is going to grow. You may want something that’s you know a solid or opaque container otherwise, yeah milk jugs would be fine or an almond milk quart container There’s a question, Is a 12 inch diameter pot ideal? And the answer to that is it really depends on what you’re trying to grow. In some cases a 12-inch diameter pot is fine. In many cases, especially if you’re trying to produce food that’s going to be far too small to get much out of it And to Maureen – the algae in a clear jar is not necessarily bad but it is unsightly and for some plants it can cause stunted growth. Somebody else wrote

in the chat – yes five gallon buckets are excellent for tomatoes and cucumbers I personally use five gallon and ten gallon buckets I do see a difference in the 10 gallon buckets but you have to kind of be on top of that plant if you’re going to do that because it can grow a lot bigger and as this person mentions in chat if you’re going to use buckets yes, you do want to drill holes in the bottom. You’re going to want to be able to provide some sort of ability for drainage and we can discuss that further if you like but basically you can also do a two-stage bucket and there are plenty of diagrams on-line about how to do two-stage buckets so that you can create a self watering planter. And Kay Marion asks, should they be food grade? I would only use food grade buckets. Maybe Vanessa can weigh in on that but it’s my understanding that you should be using food grade. You don’t want anything like plastic leaching into your soil especially when you’re going to be potentially eating things coming out of that Less easy – That I’m just gonna jump back to the slide for a moment. Less easy things to grow maybe things to avoid as a beginner would be melons, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, though certainly potatoes are very easy if you have an old one that’s starting to grow eyes just cut it into a few pieces throw it into a five gallon pot and see what you get I’ve had great results in that way and I’ve also had not-so-great results so it’s a good experiment and it doesn’t really have a whole lot of barrier to entry or cost entry in terms of doing that. Same with sweet potatoes. A good thing to know is that both potatoes and sweet potatoes, if you were to plant them directly in your soil can spread like wildfire and so container gardening is really good for that to keep them from taking over other parts of your garden And if you take a look, Vanessa has shared a link for self-watering containers in the chat box that would be worth clicking on and taking a look at It’s a very good bit of information Choosing a container – As the slide says containers can be whimsy, practical artistic… You can reuse a container, you can you use five gallon buckets, truck tires as I mentioned a moment ago. You do want to use food grade containers when you’re growing food; however, there’s plenty of non-food plants that we can grow that we can make container gardening really attractive for you had several truck tires and you didn’t know what to do with them, you don’t live in Johnston like I do where they’ll take anything off your curb you could fill those truck tires with some soil, plant flowers in them and you would turn something otherwise not beautiful into a potentially attractive planter. As the slide says at the bottom, please note you have to avoid treated lumber products when you’re growing food. And plastics that aren’t made for outdoors could become brittle. Treated lumber products can leach some of their chemicals into our soil and obviously we don’t want to be eating that kind of stuff, especially when you are taking a lot of time and effort to grow what will be or could be very delicious fresh garden produce So again, choosing a container. And the reason I have these terracotta pots here is because I find that it’s very important to mention to people that terracotta pots will suck the water out of your plants, out of the soil very quickly so if you are planting a plant that needs to be very wet and then very dry and it needs to go through that whole cycle of being very moist and then being dried again these are great for that. If you’re looking to plant a plant that just wants to be watered and then it can slowly dry out and then be watered again which most plants are more prone to that I would suggest not using terracotta pots because what you’ll find is that you need to give them more attention over time. And dark colors create higher soil temperatures so remember when you’re planting in a container your plant is much more vulnerable than if you plant it in the ground. The ground now, two months from now, is going to be a pretty constant temperature from beginning of the day

through the end of the day. Your terracotta pots, your plastic, your black plastic containers, they heat up very quickly, Terracotta, obviously less than black plastic but that is something to keep in mind when you’re choosing a container for your garden because, you want to in some cases, you may want to stress a plant in order to get it to grow and produce more and in some cases you may want to give it a much more simple non-stressed environment in order to just give it that slow constant growth. And researching the type of plant that you’re planting is very important when choosing these pots and choosing the type of method that you will be using to grow your plants so there’s a question. Can you plant your pots earlier than you would be sowing directly in the soil? And the answer is yes. And the reason for that is because you can plant plants directly into your pot, say a five gallon pot with a tomato plant and if it’s gonna get cold you can bring it in you can bring them to the porch, you could cover it with plastic, you can cover it theoretically with burlap I suppose, though I’ve never done that So because you’re planting a plant or multiple plants in a container you have this opportunity to protect them more but again it goes back to being aware that they are in an environment that is less forgiving and that you need to be more aware of these changes for the plant’s well-being. Some examples: the barrels on the left are great although from personal experience I would say don’t put a raspberry in them because it will eventually force the slats of wood out and the root system or tubers of the raspberry will essentially destroy that barrel. Good learning experience. On the right you see a container. This is similar to the – I believe they’re called Earthpots that I mentioned earlier and this is essentially a very deep container for growing what looks to be a tomato plant. There it’s got a healthy amount of space for the roots and even though we can’t see inside it my guess is that there is some small reservoir for water down there too or for self- watering. The self-watering container this is a really pretty diagram, in my opinion, because it gives you an indication of what’s going on here You’ve got your container, your outer pot You’ve got your self-watering or your water reservoir there for the plant to draw up and an overflow spout there so that if it rains, for instance, your plants not just sitting and sitting in water So what you’ve got here essentially on this slide is a plant that, or a series of plants really that can be ignored for a little bit longer because the water in there will take care of them at least for several days at the peak of summer and if not longer on the extremities Sunlight – Another good reason to have or use container gardening is that you can control the amount of sunlight that you get or that your plants get. So I personally have best sun in the front yard which is adjacent to a main street I don’t really want to grow my crops there so what I end up doing for crops that are very sun dependent, and you can see here six to eight hours a day of sunlight a day for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, essentially things that are producing fruits are going to need or vegetables are going to need more sun And so what you can do is move your pots around throughout the day if it’s not too much hassle or if there’s a plant that you really want to see do its best And that could consist of moving it, you know, from one side of the yard to the other or from the front to the back. The beauty of having these pots, that of having these containers, is that they really (and I’m sorry is anybody else experiencing sound issues or is it just Karen, Emmy) Okay Karen and Emmy, it looks like everyone else is having pretty good sound so you may want to just make sure there’s no one else using your internet connection or a potential bandwidth because that’s usually what would cause

something like that. Or yeah jump out and jump back in. So yeah, again sunlight and container gardening – basically the most obvious reason to be able to in terms of sunlight and containers is to be able to get more sun on plants that would otherwise not have the space for them So this is a slide that touches on something that could be quite frankly an entire another talk and that’s three season planting but container gardening lends very well to three season planting because for instance I have a ten gallon pot outside right now that I’ve sown with radishes and soon those radishes will be ready. Once I’ve eaten or extracted those radishes I can replant the container with pepper plants or you know as you see on there beans, cucumber you could put tomato starts in there and then once your plant is done or you’ve harvested it in the early fall you can plant something else that would be hardy into the Autumn: kale, lettuce, broccoli, potentially cauliflower. If you have the start going already and just as a note give your plants support, what I like to do personally is go to Job Lot get a handful of the fiberglass stakes that one uses to mark their driveway for snowplow they never rot there’s nothing that bugs can do to them. Just wash them with a hose and so I use those over and over again year after year to stake up my plants. You can also use tomato cages and trellises but I find those to be very easy Temperature. This is speaking to a question someone asked earlier in chat. Plants in containers while plants in general prefer 55 to 77 degrees temperature Fahrenheit Container plants are more susceptible to extreme temperatures so if they’re baking in the sun and it’s 90 degrees out uh Susan you asked in the chat what I get at Job Lot. I had mentioned I get stakes at Job Lot in the form of fiberglass driveway markers. So container plants are more susceptible to extreme temperatures and we have to be careful of that. Basically you can be sure that the same size tomato plant in the ground versus the same sized tomato plant in a pot that the one on the ground is going to be able to weather extreme temperatures more. So either, and we’ll get to this in a few moments, either you might want to set up a soaker hose or self-watering or some kind of method to provide your container plants with a little bit of a buffer when the temperatures rise. Extra water extra cool, you could put them in shade on sunny days after or in a shadier spot where it’s cooler Obviously the plants that need sun are going to not like being in the shade if you do that over and over again. But it’s something to keep in mind because you can wilt a perfectly happy plant in a container easily without paying attention to it and it can happen very quickly. Growing media. This growing media, Pro-Mix is my gold standard. I do amend it I do buy the cheaper version of it which is called Sunshine mix Currently I’m using about half Sunshine mix half Pr-Mix and then… So about half a bale of this Pro-Mix, half a bale of Sunshine mix and a bag of Eathcare Farm from Rhode Island potting mix ,which is a great great compost mix. It’s got a lot of nutrients in it. The reason I like this Pro-Mix growing media is that it allows you to treat the plants in a very scientific way. The media Pro-Mix growing media is primarily peat moss and peat moss is primarily inert so when you use an inert substance like peat moss you’re going to need to feed the plant regularly and part of that and that is part of the reason that I’ve

mixed that compost in. In the percentage that I have, so that there’s always some amount of nutrient for the plant the and Heather, the Rhode Island potting mix mentioned is Earthcare Farms. You can buy it directly from them. Also Farm Fresh Rhode Island sells that on their website through the market mobile but I think if you go directly to Earthcare Farm they’ll be able to provide it for you Again so I mix that Pro-Mix with the smaller amount of Earthcare Farm media in order to ensure that there is some nutrient in there but ultimately what I do is I create this mostly it’s a mix ultimately that it would act like a sponge so when you water, if you’re watering with just water that’s mostly what the plant is getting if you’re watering. With water and nutrients you know that you’re giving the plant nutrients and so if you keep an eye on your plants as you’re watering them, especially plants like tomatoes which will show signs on the tips of having too little or too much nutrients..the tips of the leaves you can very easily supplement what you need and there’s a lot of good information online about looking at a tomato plant and seeing there’s a burnt brown tip – I’m going to need to add nitrogen to that So there’s a question from Cathy I get a lot of squash bugs and have tried moving the location of the plants to avoid them have you grown zucchini or butternut squash in a container and would that help with the bugs and Cathy I got to be honest with you I don’t really like zucchini so I don’t grow it in a container. I have read that there are companion plants that will help to keep squash bugs from getting on to those. That would be a topic for different talk but I can probably at the end of this send you a text, a link with a book title that you can review to see you know what other plant, what other plants you can plant near those that will help to keep the squash bugs at bay. And Vanessa says squash bugs – use floating row covers so she’s going to come back to us with some good information for you on that Cathy In the meantime I’m just gonna cover the rest of this growing media. Here you have to be aware of whether or not your plants are gonna need good drainage. If they do you can simply put sand, rocks, woodchips, at the bottom a plant. It’s going to, most plants are going to want your soil your media to be able to hold water to some degree and hold nutrients to some degree and that’s what the Pro- Mix will do for you. Just to wrap that little bit up there though that that solution of Pro-Mix and Sunshine Mix once that’s dried up the nutrients that you’ve given it are not there and again that’s why I add just a little bit of that Earthcare Farm compost mixed because I want the plants to have nutrients available to them at all times We don’t want to overburden them with nutrients either because if you provide too many nutrients in the wrong form in container plants they will what’s called lock up and be unable to take up those nutrients but and you see that especially with things like tomato plants if you ever have that happen believe it or not epsom salts at the right ratio added to water will help to unlock everything and get your plants back to a place where they can accept nutrients again. But you don’t want to get to that point if you can avoid it Oh after growing media, watering, and fertilizing how do you know that if they are locked up? Evelyn asks/ Well it’s different for each plant but usually you can tell from the leaves and so your leaves in general and I’m gonna stick with tomatoes in this because it’s a because they’re very easy You can go online and see people have set out pictures you know even grids of various leaves tomato leaves and if you just take one of your tomato leaves or a few of your tomato leaves and you look at that grid you could very easily, most of the time, figure out what’s bothering your plants. If you know that and you’ll be able to diagnose a lot of them that way There’s a question: What ratio do I use for Pro-Mix ratio that I’m using. At this time is about half Pro-Mix half Sunshine Mix so those are bales. I

use half of the bale of Pro-Mix half the bale of Sunshine Mix and then one bag of the Earthcare Farm compost. And quite frankly the Earthcare Farn compost is a little bit expensive and if you can get two bags and feel comfortable adding that you’re not going to be overdoing it That stuff is really good and it’s very gentle in the plants. Watering needs Obviously will vary from plant to plant and from container to container. If you get a lot of wind, a lot of sun, a lot of humidity you know that’s going to change your watering needs Karen if you could ask your question again I’m not entirely sure what you’re are you referring to. A particular plant and as I mentioned in this slide growing media should always be moist but not soggy and just so this is something that maybe people are not aware of but peat moss will absorb water really well which makes Pro-Mix, Sunshine Mix a really good media if you let it get too dry; however, it will repel water. So you have to be aware there’s just this tipping point where you may have a bale of Pro-Mix that’s really moist and inviting You can smell the peat coming off of it If you leave it open for a few days or a week you come back to it it’s very cardboard like, it’s very dry and not exactly fun to inhale if it gets into the air. Even so just be careful of things like that if you have half a bag of Pro-Mix or Sunshine Mix keep it closed pretty tightly or maybe get a plastic container. Let’s put it in those mixes are generally sterilized before they leave the factory so it’s not like you have to worry about bugs growing on it unless it’s been accidentally ripped open in shipment. You don’t have to worry about mold growing on it. It is a sterile media. Regardless of the media you use unless you’re using more or less, regardless of the media you use, you’re going to need to fertilize your plants regularly. You could buy one of these soil mixes that’s in the store and honestly I forget the name of them but the most popular ones that have the nutrients built into them already and you can use that you’re gonna get, in my opinion, a much lesser crop and a much less happy plant for it These NPK nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous mixes that go into inexpensive soils that you buy in the store are generally chemically based They’re generally fine for house plants but not really great for trying to get the most out of your tomato plant. And someone asked, Christina asked if the mix gets dry can you rehydrate it? The answer is yes but it takes a bit of effort and what you end up with is pretty soggy Pro- Mix that then needs to dry out a little bit. I’ve had some success using a sprayer to rewater it but it really becomes a pain. It’s something you want to avoid if you can. Ultimately it you can remoisten it you can rehydrate it. It’s never quite the same again. It’s nothing, not quite, that fluffy light peatty stuff that you start with when you open the bag. So I mentioned and Amanda asked how do you keep the Pro-Mix moist in storage? I take, before Benny’s closed, I used to buy containers, tote containers plastic containers and I would take the Pro-Mix, Sunshine Mix and the compost and I would mix that all into that container Whatever was left I would cap and it would be fine and I mean it never really sticks around long enough here from year to year. I end up repotting houseplants with it whatever’s left at the end of the season so I think it would be fine to use any kind of plastic tote or storage bin for short-term storage And Martha McBurney says potting soil rehydrate it’s easier with warm hot water rather than cold. I haven’t tried that that’s a great tip Martha thank you! I think that the next time I have to rehydrate it I’m gonna go through that

Celia asks, can I recommend a fertilizer for outdoor fig plants and I’m gonna send that one to Vanessa hopefully she can get back to us on that before the end of the talk. I have not had a lot of success growing fig plants outdoors and so I can’t recommend a fertilizer I’m sorry about that And if let’s see – so micro irrigation or soaker hoses, something that I would recommend. If you’re going to do a series of containers or if you’re going to have enough containers that it makes it worth your while I would recommend setting up a soaker hose. They’re inexpensive and very convenient. You can get a timer to hook up to your water supply. If you’re not moving your buckets around or even if you are, quite frankly, if you move them in the morning and then they sit somewhere in the afternoon for instance you could just leave that soaker hose in the same place every day and water them when they’re in that particular spot. The cost of a soaker hose and the timer is so insignificant compared to losing an entire tomato plant or entire crop of plants if you think about the cost of your time and your cost of your time and your efforts in getting plants set up and taking care of them regularly the significant cost of a soaker hose is well well worth putting in. And this is a soaker hose or one type of one Essentially when the timer goes on small beads of water come up off the hose. They water your plant very gently and then when the timer goes off waits till the next day So we were talking briefly before about tomatoes and seeing the effects of nutrient loss and you can see right here here are two pictures of an unhealthy tomato leaf and a healthy or branch and a healthy tomato branch and this is quite obviously nitrogen which is causing this problem. So if you were to be growing in a soil and in a container with something like Pro-Mixx and you saw the leaf on the left you would know that you could add a dose of nutrient to it Probably from the looks of it it’s probably still in the growth stage and most nutrients are divided into a grow, a fruiting ,and then some of them also have like an end-of-life kind of cycle. Or like a develop of fruits a little bit more kind of strengthening and so me when I see this leaf on left, this branch on the left it says to me this needs a dose of fertilizer pretty badly quite frankly And I’m just gonna go back one on this slide. This – these pictures came from the University of Maryland and they noted that their researchers noted that they were able to double their pepper production when using five gallon buckets containing a hundred percent compost and they fertilize them at planting with a slow-release fertilizer now that’s just not something that I’ve done it’s not something that I can speak to but it is something that the University of Maryland researchers recommended so if you were able to get good at that and you had a fertilizer and compost that you felt comfortable with and I would suggest giving that a try And again I personally love using containers because you can use scientific methods on these so you could take two pepper plants or two tomato plants put them in the same size containers fill it with a hundred percent compost fill the other one with a Pro-Mix, compost mix make sure you water them and see what you get. Let us know. Soluble fertilizers in liquid or powder form are convenient They ship easily. They’re very inexpensive. They are not what one might consider organic but there are plenty of amazing farmers in the Rhode Island area who are using them and producing great results that you know we buy or many of us buy at the farmers market every week Other examples of fertilizers to use bone meal, blood meal, composted chicken

manure, nitrate of soda, cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal though I would caution if you’re going to get alfalfa meal. Much of the alfalfa in this country is genetically modified at this point so make that decision on your own knowing that that’s the case Worm castings are and others are all dry organic fertilizers that you can mix in two growing mediums Well I’m planting or reapplying sprinkling on top of the soil and watering in is another option you can also get non-organic fertilizers if you prefer. Again,they’re less expensive, easier to package and ship. Susan asks, can I recommend resources for Sea Kelp and fish fertilizer? Susan I like Neptune’s Harvest for those things. It is a liquid They may sell a powder but I’ve always purchased the liquid. You can buy them at almost any greenhouse supply store. They stink but they’ produce great great results so don’t use them indoors but they are excellent. Neptune’s Harvest and that’s actually what I think of when when I created this slide under liquid Sea Kelp and fish fertilizer and compost tea. The Neptunes harvest is a great compost tea, with fish fertilizer and sea kelp compost tea and I’ve had great results with it so it’s inexpensive the only reason that I would go with something other than that if sea kelp and fish is your preference, the only reason I would go with something other than that would be to have a greater awareness of the amount of nutrient that you’re introducing to a plant but most people don’t want to get to that granular level and most people don’t need to get to that granular level, And that concludes I have a few, Susan I would not use seaweed from the beach First of all the seaweed tend – needs to be sterilized some degree and you also are gonna want generally to use certain types of seaweed and I honestly don’t know what the legal ramifications of harvesting seaweed in Rhode Island are so I cannot recommend that. Can growing media be reused from year to year is there a way to refresh it? ask Christy And the answer is yes, some plants are more sensitive than others to being planted in reused media. So much of my media has been reused from year to year to year Pro-Mix again has no nutrients in it. It can develop some salts over time if you’re using certain nutrients. I don’t think that that’s really a problem for most people but if you notice that your media is not treating your plants well then try looking up an Epsom salt flush and flushing the media ideally before you plant anything in it. And Joni asks I have a couple of Earth Grow containers which call for covers rather than open air any thoughts on that method? Joni i’ve always seen those Earth Grow containers used with covers Iit seems to promote better root growth for the plants. Those things produce amazing tomatoes typically and so I would definitely use the covers rather than open air on those. So just a couple of housekeepings and if you want to stick around after that that I have some great pictures of container gardening in Japan which I took on a recent trip there. I think it’s very interesting to see how they use their containers and they’re exceptionally limited space to produce really beautiful results. So again [email protected] is the email address If you have any questions the gardener hotline there are very very skilled people manning that and they are happy to hear from you. Website here which I also had at the beginning, the gardening resources is very valuable. There are a lot of good pieces of information that can be very quickly reviewed that gives you a lot of in-depth info. And on this slide we invite you to become a Master Gardener or to take the course. It’s a great course. I got so much out of it, It really is a soup to nuts kind of introduction or review class on how to on everything plants and how to teach to other people

about plants, about insects, about the plant world. It was a very worthwhile class, obviously because here I am. A wide asking you to complete our online survey which I believe and that’s that we’ll be making the link available to that in the chat window. And a bonus. So these were all taken in Japan I’m sorry Joanie asked will the Master Gardener program be all online this time? You know I don’t think we have an answer for that yet Joanie. I know that this year’s class was moved entirely online after the virus pandemic started and I can chime in – yeah sure so we haven’t made that determination yet we’re gonna go with what the university does in terms of… they haven’t even made a decision for you know, Fall semester so we’re not sure because this, the core training runs in Spring semester. We’re really hoping to hold it in person it might be in a different format. We will just keep our website updated so we encourage you to kind of apply for it and you can make your decision once we’ve announced how it is going to be run but the online format ended up being really fun and interactive so hopefully you’ll stick with us either way Thanks Vanessa, I would definitely encourage you to check it out even if you’re even if it’s just online. When I took the class the lectures were all available online so we had a horrible snow year that year and several of the lectures had to be done online. I didn’t feel like we lost anything from that but if you do take the class I highly encourage you to do all of the optional classes that you can do because they are wonderful. I don’t know if they’re still doing the grafting but that was a great class. So anyway, what you might notice in these pictures is that there are very small containers, very large plants in them and lots of self-watering sticks. So all these little green sticks with the white caps and those in them are self- watering, in some cases self-watering gels that they seem to be using but in most cases just water that they had filled in the plants with and one thing that’s, this is in Tokyo in Asakusa. This particular picture Danika asked where in Japan this is? So this is just a street corner that’s somebody’s house behind those pictures, or behind those plants, excuse me, and you can see that they have pretty limited space. One thing to note about Japan is that everything there a soil wise is incredibly rich there basically they are volcanic islands so you can go and dig soil out of your backyard and have this rich earthy humus soil that is something that we here in Rhode Island could be very jealous of because our topsoil is terrible comparatively. So basically you might want to think about these containers as being very rich potentially 100% compost. If we were to do it ourselves or a mix of Pro-Mix and compost with a heavier bent on the nutrients and you see they get great results because of it. And this is walking a further down that alley you can still see in the bottom-left corner some of those self watering spikes that they have and each of those plants is maybe in a gallon planter for the smaller ones The blue cone, the blue cone is just a road cone trying to keep people out of that space, Steve. I don’t think it was used for anything other than to keep people from trampling the plants. I’m walking on that sidewalk you can see people you know this is in a little more of a destitute style. They, you know this is the end of the winter here and these plants are just starting to come back a little bit but they overwinter through pretty harsh winters easily enough. Some of these appear as if they could be self- watering containers especially the one on the bottom left. Oh it’s hard to say for obvious reasons I did not want to pick up people’s plants without talking to them and asking them. This is a city street and quite frankly I believe this is in Kyoto at this point but you see this all the time. People are attempting to beautify their cities by putting down little plants. Iif you look from the left on those bars there’s a jade plant there that looks pretty old. To be perfectly honest it looks like maybe someone’s

taken it in over the winter, cared for these plants and then they put them out Spring, Summer and Fall And you add fertilizer to the self-watering tubes? asks Jean. Jean you can if you were to do that I would recommend it be a dilute solution of fertilizer you can always add more but it’s hard to take away too much And again you can see you know this is obviously somebody has put down some plants and cared for them left it to go a little wild. I’m part of it and me looks like they’ve cared for the middle cluster and left the outer to do what it’s going to do And Kay Marion says Jade plants can withstand pretty low temperatures it grows outside on the Central Coast of California which gets down to about 30 So I didn’t know that and that’s pretty interesting. Maybe people are leaving those out during the winter in Japan in the city areas where it wouldn’t get as cold And you can see this is a pretty basic planting. See some plants that we might recognize like on the left there’s some spider plant there Aand I included this one because I thought this was pretty special these plants are in one gallon pots and they’re taller than we are. They’ve grown to be a basically be a canopy over the street over the sidewalk and I found that to be really neat you can see yeah the root system in that pot is just bulging out of there so it’s got to have something in terms of nutrients that its appreciating. It’s obviously not just pulling it from the air. And you can see that that plant, one on the right at the very least has been carefully connected or attached to the metal framework behind it. And there’s a side view of what we were just seeing. Notice how everything other than that tree that’s flowering it’s all container. I’m sorry I don’t know what those pink flowers are yeah. I’m not going to be identify, I’m sorry and so I’m just so so everybody knows this was around early March It’s when the – it could be yes, Martha that could be a Camellia. They are extremely popular and prevalent in Japan as one might expect and there’s many variations on them and they’re very inexpensive to purchase in their flower markets. They’re so beautiful and perhaps the next time I can include a picture of some of the flower markets I did not put those in the slideshow but you could see this is early March we already have things flowering and blooming in the container on the far left. And the container on the far right you know the far right looks like Christmas cactus. Actually the one that it’s adjacent to the pole there with the pink flowers and you can see that there’s basically been a lot of attention to these plants in terms of beautifying the area but putting in plants that are going to work with the space I would say and contribute to the space. And this picture just a good example of you know someone’s home, essentially the door right there could be a home or an entrance to a shop. They’ve got a couple of plants to beautify that front and that’s all the space that they really have to work with. This was a public planting project you can see that they’ve used the raised bed method along with paths to kind of accent the two. And this is right in front of an apartment building, a tall apartment building in Tokyo This person obviously has a little bit more to work with and you can see that some of these containers are empty so I imagine by this point they’ve filled them with something a little more exciting. You can see the aloe coming up out of that blue container and I don’t know about y’all but I infrequently see aloe planted in the same container with other plants so I found that to be interesting. Other things that you might notice here are the green dolphin self- watering bubble it’s coming out of several of these. The Frog self-watering

so you know the Japanese as many people are probably aware I’d like to pay attention to the little details and I find that the way that they stack multiple self-watering devices in one planter or the way that they plant companion plants together is very interesting and telling and really adds to the plants in a way that they by themselves would not necessarily or a beauty that they by themselves might not necessarily give off Richard we have a question about the one has a black top it needs to use something to elevate the pot so would you suggest the concrete blocks to keep the plants from overheating and drying out or what would you suggest? I think that honestly whatever you have. I’m a very pragmatic person in that sense Whatever you have if you had some two-by-four scraps leftover, if you had some terracotta leftover, concrete blocks are fine but are not terribly beautiful to look at, so really in this instance I think that what you’d be looking for is something that that balances you know an impermeableness so that you’re lifting it up and it’s not you know you’re not worrying about it. Table sure Yeah, a small table would be fine If you had old, I mean personally I have a lot of old tree stumps in my yard and I use those to elevate buckets. They will over time decay and as Martha says yes the more the pot is elevated the more susceptible to the wind it will be. See you want to get it off that blacktop but you obviously don’t want to get it too high where it can get, where it will be susceptible things like that. Sara says I have 10 cubic feet of Pro-Mix. 1/2 Pro-Mix, half Sunshine, how much compost do I need? I would use 2 bags of the Earthcare farm compost mix maybe three. I think that that would probably be an appropriate amount for that you could mix more in there without any kind of detrimental effects. I think that if the question really is how much of that composting you get your hands on and how much do you want to use what type of plants are you going to put in it and how much nutrient will they need. So if you’re putting in tomatoes into that 10 cubic feet of mix then go with a stronger ratio of compost. I might chime in here too and say the Rhode Island Resource Recovery if you’re here from Rhode Island we actually have people from Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island and California, so welcome to you All, if you’re in Rhode Island our Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation actually generates compost and it is suitable for organic gardening. So just the way that they create the compost that heat that it gets up to, actually when they do the testing on it this was kind of surprising to me but it was wonderful to hear. It’s very affordable so I think you know any compost source we happen to love Earthcare Farm as well but there’s a lot of great compost sources out there. So I didn’t want to just recommend one. How do you get that compost? It’s right on their website RIR I will put it in the chat. Ijust want to also encourage everybody to please take our survey if you didn’t do it now we can send it to you via email I’m so glad to have you all here. Richard that was wonderful let’s all give him like the Jasmine clap Thank you, thank you Somebody’s saying that they understand that that compost is low in nutrients. Do you know if they’ve tested the nutrients Yeah, so I can I’ll just point them to the website. They’ll be able to explain what’s in there a little bit easier Stephanie says any advice on wildlife getting into your container gardens? Well, Stephanie I would recommend feeding the birds but elsewhere. I put out birdseed for them and they tend to not bother my gardens And then as far as a groundhog goes there.. Do you have a cat maybe or some kind of dog, a cat that you can have around your gardens where that smell of your pet will keep the groundhog from wanting to be in that area

Thank you, thank you everybody for joining us and thank you for all of the kind chats and we look forward to you joining us again next time Thank you Vanessa for setting this all up and Taylor for setting it all up and you know what I’ve got to give a shout out to my parents who joined us on this chat They are great. I wouldn’t be here if not for them. They’re wonderful, thank you Thank you everybody