Popcorn, black beans, and grow bags

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Yesterday I was so excited to discover a couple of tiny grass-like spikes shooting up from the large bed where I sowed Strawberry popcorn. I had been watching the black beans germinate for a few days, and was happy to see the pickling cucumbers come up as well. But no popcorn. It is coming up after a week of fairly warm weather and a few days of rain, though. I have no expectations for this crop. If I get a few tiny ears of corn I will be happy. I honestly need the black beans and cucumbers much more. The popcorn will just be a treat if it works. I know virtually noting about growing corn having attempted it once about 9 years ago — I think we got 3 tiny ears of sweet corn. Then this past winter I saw Strawberry popcorn in a catalog and thought it looked so cute.

Black beans growing on the sides, pickling cucumbers on the ends and Strawberry popcorn growing in the center -- all just coming up

Black beans growing on the sides, pickling cucumbers on the ends and Strawberry popcorn growing in the center — all just coming up

Who sows kale this late in the spring? I do. I have a shady spot in my garlic bed that was great for a long lettuce season last year. Why not kale, a cool weather crop? Dwarf Siberian kale was sown a few days ago and is already up. I took a picture but it was so boring I will spare you until the plants have some true leaves.

Now on to the exciting part: tomato grow bags. I found a company advertising and selling tomato grow bags with a wire cage inside providing support and structure for the bag. I attempted to reproduce that using grow bags that I sewed from landscape fabric. I created wire structure from welded wire. I discovered that with the wire cage inside the grow bag it was nearly impossible to add soil and in the future would be difficult to work with the plant. So I had some ideas, one of which was to leave the front partially open. But I really didn’t love this idea.

Leaving the front open allows easy access to plant but structure is weaker

Leaving the front open allows easy access to plant but structure is weaker

I thought about putting the structure inside the grow bag and removing some of the wire at intervals so I could reach my hand in easily, but I would need to file the wire left behind or I risked cutting and scratching myself every time I tried to work with the tomato plants.

I slept on the problem a few nights, planting was delayed anyway with the weather and fatigue. I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of nights ago with a solution that seemed like it would be perfect. Just fill the grow bag with soil, plant tomato, and then put wire structure on afterwards. It worked! It was so easy I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner.

Wire structure outside the grow bag

Wire structure outside the grow bag

Although it doesn’t give the grow bag quite as much support, it is sufficient. To work with the plant inside, I just open the support. The dimensions of my grow bags are 12″x12″x12″. A little on the small side but I think they will work just fine. Now to get the rest of my tomatoes planted.

Now for a little thinking outside the box. I have more plants than garden space right now. But do I? I decided to tuck plants into my flower beds, containers, anyplace I can find a little soil and sunlight. The greatest danger will be deer. I can’t fence in every little nook and cranny of planting space. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I say.

Below is my driveway container garden with the very large oregano plants that need cutting back and dehydrating. There is a cute little trellis beside that container. Last year I grew purple green beans (which were disgusting to eat).

Wild and crazy oregano needs to be cut back and dehydrated

Wild and crazy oregano needs to be cut back and dehydrated

I planted a few black bean seeds behind the oregano so it can grow up that trellis.

Black beans growing behind the oregano

Black beans growing behind the oregano

So I have grow bags and containers for expanding my growing space. Happy gardening!

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