- May 12, 2009
It has been a long time now since I first decided to, but at least I didn't wait until mid-summer when it would be too late to plant.
I built the planter entirely out of scrap wood I had saved from past hauling jobs.
The half barrel in the pictures is also from a hauling job, but is not in use yet.
I lined the bottom with carpet (from a dump run)
to protect the plastic which goes above it (the plastic left over from a furniture move done in the rain). Then an old blanket on top, both to protect the plastic and to aid in water wicking.
I placed some pieces of broken concrete (which used to be a fountain base) as supports for the porous sheet of wood which elevates the soil above the water reservoir, so that while the water below is accessible (via soil wicking) it does not saturate the soil or plants.
The mesh keeps the soil from getting into the reservoir.
The plastic trim lining the top of the planter is hauling leftover too.
I found slightly used (one season) potting soil on Craigslist in Oakland for free. Potting soil wicks water better, and so is recommended in self-watering systems. In theory the system uses less water, requires less maintenance and regulation, and produces healthier plants.
Being my first attempt ever to grow food, I consider this season practice, and I will be very happy if I end up eating anything at all from my little home-made box of dirt.
The first thing I planted was a potato. It was originally meant for eating, but it went bad, so I threw it in the compost. Later I noticed stems pushing their way around the plastic cover, and lo and behold the "bad" potato was sprouting. So maybe now I will get a good potato out of it.
My neighbor who gardens had told me even before I built the planter that she had a tomato plant for me. She also gave me a tomato stake; which, incidentally, I had given her about a year ago, having gotten it in a dump run and having no use for it at the time. Apparently she took a couple more than she really needed back then.
She also shared some lettuce seeds and a bean plant. I got some free basil seeds in exchange for signing up for some email list at the farmers market last week. My friend said she may give me a plant too.
So far I have spent almost no money on my new garden at all (just fuel to get the soil, and some screws - though a few of the screws were actually dump run as well).
Which is good, since I spent all my discretionary income on my truck project!
I think it is time for a subscription to Mother Earth News.
I have been waiting a long time to have an excuse for that.
To think. Food. Actual food. Noodles and burritos and curry dishes and popsicles, the stuff without which we can not live, the stuff our very bodies, ourselves, are made out of. It all starts out as a seed in some dirt. It just grows there, on dirt and air, and with energy from the sun, these plants turn dirt into nutrition. Sweet delicious dirt. Although, wrist deep into that potting soil, I almost sympathize with the plants on that point. It is some nice soil. It smells and feels and even looks delicious.