Wise gardening ones, I have many container gardening questions – or “Is there any cure for a ‘black thumb'”?

Wise gardening ones, I have many container gardening questions – or “Is there any cure for a ‘black thumb'”?

Question by Miss Dementia: Wise gardening ones, I have many container gardening questions – or “Is there any cure for a ‘black thumb'”?
I have the dreaded “black thumb” and all of my attempts at gardening usually fail miserably. It has been suggested that I would do better at container gardening. It would minimize the chances of me pulling a young veggie sprout while fertilizing a weed due to misidentification. (Yes, I’ve done that) So, a few Qs about container gardening –

1. Must one plant subterranean producing plants (garlic, etc) in separate containers from things such as herbs or is there a way to do this to minimize the risk of damaging the roots of the other plants? Last year someone told me about their hanging “salsa garden” and I’m going to try it this year, but want garlic in there in addition to my jalepenos, hanging tomato, cilantro, mexican oregano and chives in the top portion of a large pottery (I forget the English language word for the type, but they’re unglazed and commonly used for plants)

2. An entire head of garlic I purchased somehow got shoved to the back of the garlic/onion/shallot basket and a few cloves have started to sprout. Do I just plant them “as is” or do I have to peel them and trim the hard, lower portion of the individual clove?

3. What sort of common household containers could be used for an indoor herb garden if drainage holes were added to the bottom? We drink a lot of coffee of various sorts including Folgers and I was considering using the empty containers for that very purpose. Would the plastic Folger’s containers cause problems for the plant such as mold, root rot (if there is such a thing), etc?

4. Do you know of any very active gardening forums where beginners and inadvertent seedling slaughterers would be welcomed and patiently advised?

5. Do you have any tips, tricks or suggestions for me to help me actually get more than two tomatoes and a few containers full of weeds this year? What are some of the easiest to raise, but hardest to annihilate veggies and herbs?

In case it is important, I am currently in California in the greater Sacramento metro area. I am in the city, but I do have a very large property and house and plenty of room to move my containers about and can easily move them into the sun room if need be.

This project is something I want to do MYSELF, without help from any other household member or our groundskeeper, all of whom would consider it easier to just do it themselves than try to guide me. That is not acceptable to me because then it wouldn’t be *my* success. I have failed every year I have tried gardening, but I am a stubborn wench and will keep trying until I get it right. Any advice you can give me to help me actually get it right this year would be very much appreciated. Thanks for your wise guidance in advance!
Sciencegravy – thank you for your helpful advice! I do have some old buckets out in a storage shed the previous owners never cleaned out, so now I have a use for them. I also am going to purchase a nifty pottery with various cubbies on the sides made specifically for strawberry plants, so I am trying both plants and seeds. If my sproutlings fail I will indeed go to young plants rather than get discouraged and simply give up. Thank you for reminding me that is an option for pretty much everything I’m planting.

ILF – I get 10 boxes of Gevalia per week and I am looking about for another coffee club/delivery service as well, but we keep the Folgers about for those who prefer it. We also buy Cascade Pride, Seattle’s Best and the occasional bag of Starschmucks. Eight of the 10 people in this house are coffee drinkers, half of us drink it constantly and we seem to have at *least* one drop-in visitor per day, so we do indeed have an entire large cart (like a kitchen island with wheels, real

Best answer:

Answer by sciencegravy
1. Yes, you can plant different things in one pot. It will depend on the size of the pot, and what the plants are. You can tuck cilantro and oregano around the edges of almost any pot, but a tomatoe or pepper plant are going to take up lots of room, and generally, you have one of those per pot. Putting more than one of the “big” plants in the same pot will crowd them and cause them to under-produce.

2. Plant garlic by separating the bulb into individual cloves. Don’t remove the paper, don’t cut anything off. Plant, tip up, about 2 inches down. Lots of sun. You can plant them about5-6 inches apart, and with any luck, each clove will grow into a full head of garlic.

3. Coffee containers are pretty small. The bigger, the better. Old buckets would be a better size.

4. Yes. Lots of them out there. And as far as “seed-slaughtering” – know that growing things from seed is a learning curve, and if you’re a beginner, it’s recommended that you purchase plants starts to get your feet wet. There are too many ways to fail with seeds, and it’s a fast track to frustration and giving up. Start with plants, and after a few years, when you feel more confident, move on to trying seeds again.

5. Tomatoes want full sun. 6 hours of *direct* sun, or more. If that’s not the issue, share more details about how you grow them, how you care for them, and their conditions, and what you see happening, and when, and we can help you sort out what’s happening.

What do you think? Answer below!

5 Responses to “Wise gardening ones, I have many container gardening questions – or “Is there any cure for a ‘black thumb'”?”

  1. india lima foxtrot says:

    Folgers? That surprises me!

    I love Rodale’s Guide to Organic Gardening. Rodale’s also publishes books on more specific topics and regional gardening. I bet there’s a container gardening book too.

    Anything that will hold soil will sprout your seedlings. I would guess a big Folger’s can would be a great place to grow herbs and that sort of thing. If they get to big for the coffee can, you can always replant. I would say try the garlic in your big piece of pottery (strawberry planter?) and see what happens. After so many years of watching my mom’s garden flourish while I killed plant after plant, I noticed that she killed just as many plants as I do, she just covers up the dead foliage with large, well established plants.

    Another good gardener told me that most gardeners have to reference the little cards/seed packets often (keep those around) and they still have trouble with different things every year.

    This year I’m planting some herbs in containers, vegetables in the ground and I’ll spruce up the bulb beds that came with the house. I also need to re-seed the grass. I did it in the Fall, but my poor Missouri lawn is still very sparse. I also have a lot of tornado debris laying around still, so I’ll be working around pieces of fiberglass insulation and Odin only knows what else. ; )

    Good luck and keep us posted!

  2. Mama Mia says:

    No “Wise Gardening One” has became one without making bushels of mistakes themselves. Everyone learns from their “own” mistakes, trail and error, and by hands on experience.
    The best suggestions to all of your questions is to:
    1. Get in touch with a Garden Cooperative Extension in your area. They give classes on everything to do with plants, gardening, soil conditions pH levels, and insect control, etc. Most of them are Master Gardeners and love to share their knowledge. They also have a monthly booklet they send out with articles about everything to do with gardening.
    2. You can go to the local library and get books on gardening that will enrich your knowledge, or do some web site searches.

    All of the suggestion are ones I do presently or have done in my humble beginnings as a gardener.
    Good Luck and Happy Planting.

  3. OURScott says:

    Your in the right place girl.
    Those of us in the know have killed a lotta sh!t to get where we are.
    I employ two styles of gardening,
    “Intensive”, which includes, HID lighting, container growing or raised beds and any technology available to trick or cheat mother nature.
    The other method I employ is called “benign neglect” where I toss some seeds in the dirt and don’t worry about the weeds (cover crop) until they’re big enough to use a chainsaw on.
    Being the stubborn and clever wench I know you to be I’d say you have the makings of a great gardener.
    Feel free to quiz us on more specifics as you proceed.


  4. cardimom says:

    Good to see you are not giving up easily. eventually you will find a method of gardening that works for you. Good luck again this year. How is the Prairie Dog ? People prefer Folgers? Really?
    Save some coffee grounds for any stuff you have that might need acid like roses or hydrangea. The groundskeeper or who ever will know what to do with them.
    Use cigarette ashes mixed in water (if you, or someone in the residence smokes) as a bug deterrent . essentially get an old bucket put water in it, dump an ashtray or two in it, slosh it up and get it mixed then you can put some in your watering can or a water sprayer and it will get on the soil and plants when you water. It won’t make your salsa garden chipotle at all but it keeps away bugs.
    Herbs keep bugs away because they are pungent, but veggies can benefit from this.

    The big plastic cat litter containers work great, not so attractive, but you could always cover them with something. The lids of the containers make good drip trays to catch water and the handles are convenient Remember to put holes in the bottom for drainage.

    I have seen people plant in hunks of wood and old work boots. start with a good soil and you might want to make friends with the garden center folks at Home Depot, or Lowes, or better yet a local business, they often like to help and advise, you can get seedlings there and ask lots of questions. they know your area and conditions.
    Good Luck and Enjoy yourself.

  5. reynwater says:

    Gotta love a dirt wench…agree with Science and OurScott.

    1 – Hope you have a Big pot for your salsa garden “companion planting”…and a full sun location.

    2 – Plant individual cloves…garlic is supposed to repel bad bugs especially when (companion) planted with roses.

    3 – Coffee cans are fun – any container gallon size or larger will do…don’t forget the drain holes.

    4 – All of us here are willing to help – many can be contacted by Email via our avatar.

    5 – Choose INdeterminant tomatoes, they bear all season until frost…determinants only bear once, then they’re done.

    My best “hint” is to employ the G.O.D. Principle — Grow Or Die…when in doubt, Don’t water – can’t tell you how many plantlings I’ve murdered by drowning.

    I’ll have Bailey’s in my cuppa, thank you.

    edit: you can see images of seedlings to prevent misspulling the kids you want…once you learn what they sprout like…here’s an easy one, “cosmos seedling image”: http://imagecache6.allposters.com/LRG/29/2905/LKMPD00Z.jpg carrots are quite similar: http://lisahaschickens.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/cherry-grief-041.jpg

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