Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Heavenly Place: My Visit to La Paz Waterfall Garden in Costa Rica.

In January of 2010 I was fortunate enough to visit The La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Peace Lodge in Central Costa Rica.  I cannot begin to describe the incredible beauty of this place other that to say I had to pinch myself to see if I were awake or dreaming.  I think when God created this place he did it just to show those fortunate enough to visit what a little corner of heaven looks like.  Since the blazing summer heat is preventing me from doing any gardening projects, I thought I would share a little of my knowledge of this gorgeous place and maybe even entice a few people into visiting.
 
The trail to the falls is shrouded by clouds.






The La Paz Waterfall Garden is perched on the side of Poas Volcano between two of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Poas Volcano National Park and Braulio Carrillo National Park in Heredia Province. It is about a 30-40 minute drive heading north from Juan Santamaria International Airport.  The park’s close proximity to San Jose makes it a convenient way to sample the beauty of the Costa Rican cloud forest during the day and still be able to enjoy the city nightlife.
 





To get there, take The Pan Am Highway (1) East from the airport for about 1 mile and turn left onto highway 3 which is easy to find because it leads into the area where all of the airport hotels are located. Continue on through the city of Alajuela for about a mile until reaching the Boomba Le Tropicana Hotel and restaurant. Turn right here and go 3 blocks and turn left onto Calle 9 Anastasio Alfaro which is still highway 3 by the way.  Stay on the street for 9 blocks and then turn right onto Avenida 7 which will become highway 125 and is the most direct and scenic way to go to the park. At this point you have passed through the most difficult and confusing point of the trip (Costa Rica’s roads are not very well marked and there is rarely a direct route anywhere). From here the road climbs and winds its way into the highlands and passes through many quaint and sleepy little villages.  Just take your time and enjoy the culture and the scenery.  There are often roadside markets and stands selling fresh fruit, vegetables, and other locally produced goods.  I especially recommend the local cheeses which resemble cream cheese and are great with toast and jelly for breakfast. As the road continues on the villages yield to open fields and eventually the cloud forested highlands on the flank of Poas. After about 30 kilometers, there will be a T in the road, and at the time I was there, there was a produce store selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Turn right at the T, the park is about 5 kilometers further on. I will warn you at this point, the scenery will take your breath away.  Imagine every thing you have every heard about a tropical Garden of Eden and multiply it by 100 and you will have La Paz Waterfall Gardens. It’s green, it’s foggy, it’s misty, it’s cool, it’s heavenly; it’s well worth the price of admission.

Me checking out the local transportation.



Speaking of admission, as with most attractions in Costa Rica there are two sets of prices, one for foreigners and one for Nationals; guess who pays more  haha.  Don’t worry though; the price is well worth it.  Anyhow, here are the prices for foreigners: 
Adults are $36.00, children 3-12 are $21.00, children under 3 are free. I recommend getting there when the park opens around 10am and taking advantage of their fantastic buffet which is only $13.00 for adults and $7.00 for children. The buffet features many Costa Rican dishes as well as a few American items such as pizza and French fries.  There are plenty of tropical fruits and even soft serve ice cream when I was there.  After a morning of hiking around the falls you will be sure to work up an appetite which the buffet will be sure to satisfy.
 
The river La Paz, below the falls.



There, with all that out of the way lets talk about the falls themselves.  The La Paz Waterfall Garden is built around a series of five waterfalls.  From top to bottom they are, Templo, Magia Blanca, Encantada, Escondida, and La Paz.  To allow visitors to get up close and personal with the falls, the proprietors have built a series of stairs and catwalks.  Visitors can get so close to the falls that they will get wet. In fact you can actually get under Magia Blanca making for a great photo opportunity, just be sure your photographer is not under the falls or you may not have a camera anymore.   I recommend putting cameras and other electronic devices in Ziploc bags because there is about a 99% chance you will get wet. When I was there, I was only able to visit Templo and Magia Blanca because the catwalks to the other falls were not yet repaired from the 6.1 earthquake that happened here in 2006.  I am told it is once again possible to visit all the falls and that the damage has been repaired however if anyone has information to the contrary please comment. I have to say that the falls are absolutely magnificent and truly worth seeing.
 
Me getting soaked by Templo Falls.

 


Magia Blanca Falls



Catwalks make for easy access to the falls.

The falls, however, are not the only worthwhile attraction in the park. There are also fantastic displays of wildlife, insects, and plant life on exhibit at the gardens.  There is a butterfly garden with over 25 species of butterflies, a jungle cat exhibit, a reptile garden, an aviary, a monkey sanctuary, and even a trout lake. I was really entertained by one of the monkeys who seemed to really enjoy playing with his food. I spent most of the day at the park and still didn’t get enough.
 

A Whiteface Monkey Enjoys Playing With His Food!

 
 
A Rare Tree Frog in The Reptile Garden.

Here Kitty Kitty


  
If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, I highly recommend the La Paz Waterfall Garden.  Even better, spend the night there at the peace lodge.  I will never forget the mystical time spent there and hope someday to return.  The La Paz Waterfall Garden was truly money well spent and a memory that will last a lifetime.  For more information on La Paz Waterfall Garden, visit their very informative website.



Until the next time ~Happy Gardening

For More Information on Visiting Costa Rica, I recommend:
 Frommer's Costa Rica 2013 (Frommer's Color Complete)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Our Aroma Rice Cooker, Makes Cooking Rice A Breeze


One of the best investments we have ever made in our kitchen is buying a rice cooker.  Since I am not a real big rice eater, I never really saw the need for one, but when my wife’s visa got approved last fall, I knew a rice cooker would be a welcome addition to our kitchen.  Since rice is a very important part of her diet, and I knew she had a rice cooker in The Philippines, I thought it would be fitting that she had one here.  That left me with a dilemma: with so many different models and sizes to choose from, I didn’t have a clue as to which one to choose.

After a few days of research and with much help from my wife, I decided on an Aroma 12 cup digital rice cooker.  Let me tell you, this little machine rocks! It cooks a perfect batch of rice every time and with a price tag at under $50.00, it has many of the bells and whistles of cookers priced over $100.00. We have had this rice cooker for almost a year now and it works perfectly, and we have also had many opportunities to use some of its great features.
 
Our 12 cup Aroma Rice Cooker with handy dandy steamer tray!


One of our favorite features, of course, is the steamer basket that fits over the rice basin. Since we both love garden fresh vegetables, and steaming them is the perfect way to preserve their nutrients, this works great.  Not to mention the energy saved by cooking everything at once instead of using 2 burners on a conventional stove.  Our Aroma rice cooker also has a brown rice function which makes cooking this and other grains such as barley a breeze!  Add to that a keep warm function which really helps with timing when we are when we are cooking other dishes. There is also a steamer function for the times when we only want to steam veggies or seafood. Many of the Aroma cookers can also be programmed to cook the rice at a preselected time.  Just put in a little rice in the basin and some veggies in the steamer rack and dinner or lunch can be ready when we arrive home.

   
 
















The Aroma rice cooker is not just for cooking rice and steaming vegetables but can be used to make soup, stew, chili, beans, and even desserts.  It is well built, easy to clean, and very attractive. We have a 12 cup machine which is perfect for a couple but Aroma also has smaller versions for singles, we recommend at least an 8 cup in any case and a 20 cup if you have a family. We love our Aroma rice cooker, and we know you will too.  I only wish I would have bought one years ago as it really makes cooking convenient.  Until the next time, ~ Happy Gardening~ 

 

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Container Garden Wrap Up and Updates for Upcoming Posts


With my container garden season nearly finished, I wanted to dedicate one more post to wrap up the season.  I also want to take some time to share on what to expect next season as well as what I will be doing in the off season.

 
One of the most exciting changes is that my wife, Ren, will be now handling most of the photography; it seems she has a natural talent for composing pictures and capturing details.  She is currently learning to use her new Canon SX500 PowerShot and is capturing some amazing images which I will share in an upcoming post. All but one of the images I am sharing in this post were shot by her.

 
Ren also indicated to me that she would like our patio to be more functional, in other words, not cluttered with plants and containers. She would like instead for us to have some outdoor furniture so we can have our morning coffee on the patio. I love this challenge and have come up with an idea to make the garden fit in with the patio furniture and add to the functionality of our outdoor space. This means the container garden will only be occupying the east end of the patio which is perfect for sunlight control and airflow.  I will be building a 2ft x 2ft x 6ft cedar planter with a reservoir underneath that will allow for self watering. I am also toying with the idea of putting a pump in the reservoir for misting and watering.  This will help with the low humidity and watering problems associated with container gardens in Arizona. I will also replant the fichus tree and move it to the west side of the patio to help filter some of the sunlight which really helps container garden vegetables. I’m really looking forward to this project and have already begun designing it.

 
I also wanted to share some of the pictures Ren took recently of our garden and to give an update on our gardens new resident, Mother Dove.  Yes, last week I was out watering when I discovered two miniature white eggs in the herb box.  I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of bird they belonged to until later that evening when I snuck out to see if a mother bird was sitting and sure enough, there on the eggs sat a female mourning dove! We are expecting new babies any day now so I will sure to post the pictures when we get them.

 
I’m also happy to report that the tomatoes and chili pepper look fantastic and are about ready for harvest.  I do believe that the peppers will go through the summer, but I am not sure about the tomatoes.  The Rosemary is doing well and will also be repotted and the chives are blooming and about done for the season; I will replant the bulbs in the herb box in the fall.  Also, the poinsettia is thriving in the warm weather and partial shade, and it looks like it should be spectacular this Christmas.
 
These two dove eggs were a pleasant surprise!
 
 



Our Newest Resident, Mother Dove, on the Nest
 
 
 
 
 
Another Shot of Mother Dove
 
 
 
Three Beautiful Tomatoes; I can't wait to taste them!
 
 
 
These Chili Pepper Plants did Fantastic; I will Plant them again
Next Year!
 
 

 
Well, that’s it for the container garden this season but I will have many more exciting posts to share this summer including my visit to La Paz Waterfall Garden in Costa Rica and the progress of the new garden planter.  Until the next time, ~Happy Gardening~

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My Attempts to Grow Tomatoes in Arizona's Low Humidity

For the past several years I have been attempting to grow tomatoes in Arizona's desert climate, and I have been very successful in establishing healthy plants and setting fruit.  However, I have not been able to  grow sizable tomatoes which, I have to admit, puzzled me. Then I started to learn a little about hydroponic gardening and learned about the relationship between plants and humidity. Suddenly it dawned on me, to grow sizable tomatoes  in Arizona's dry climate, I have to find the right plant to humidity relationship.  In other words, I have either find a way to elevate the humidity in my garden or find tomato plants that will thrive in lower humidity.

Tomato plants grow well when the humidity is above 45 percent.  The humidity in Phoenix has been around 10-20 percent since about the first week in April which is right about the time the fruits began to set.  Once the humidity goes below 45 percent the plants automatically pump more water through the leaves to cool themselves; this process is called transpiration. If the humidity becomes too low, the plants begin to get stressed and if they can't transpire enough water,  their leaves begin to die.  Container tomatoes are especially susceptible to this because they cannot form a large enough root system to overcome this phenomenon.  In other words, while a large, bushy tomatoes plant with a a large amount of foliage may look great in February or March, when the warmer, drier air of April and May arrive, this same plant will struggle in a container.  The tomato fruits themselves do not receive enough moisture to gain any size before they ripen, and often the plant itself will die before this happens. This means that, in theory a plant with sparse foliage should do better in hot dry conditions and should also produce larger fruit. This idea has proven itself true in my container garden this year almost by accident!

In my February 21, 2013 post, "Container Garden Planting Spring 2013," I mentioned that I had a volunteer tomato plant which sprouted in my poinsettia plant.  I get quite a few of these every year because I compost my kitchen waste and use it to fertilize the potting soil.  Anyhow, to make a long story short, I ended up with a tall, spindly tomato plant with about half the leaves of a normal plant.  I really didn't think this plant was going to produce anything at all, but I was dead wrong.  Now, even with temperatures over 100 F, this plant is still thriving with 3 large tomatoes on it while the other plant has all but withered and died. I think this is because the plant had to transpire as much water and as a result, was able to produce larger tomatoes.  The tomatoes on this pant, although few, are about 3 times the size of the ones on the store-bought plant.  I am waiting to see what color they are once they ripen, if they are red I will call them poinsettia heirlooms and will save the seeds.  Either way though I will definitely grow them again next year.

Three Lovely Tomatoes from an Ugly Plant
 
 
 
 
Heavy Foliage equals small tomatoes in container gardening.
 
This spindly plant produced three good sized tomatoes
showing that less vegetation equals larger fruit.


 
My store bought tomato cannot take the heat and
low humidity.
 
 
 
On a side note, the chili peppers are doing quite well!
 
 


Speaking of next year, I will be doing away with the dozens of containers over the summer and building a single planter out of cedar.  My wife wants a functional and presentable patio so my goal is to build patio container garden that is pleasing to the eye and functional.  I also will be adding a few features to help with the humidity problem and will be adding a bird feeder to keep the insect population at bay.  In the meantime, here are a few tips to help with growing tomatoes in a hot/dry climate.  


  1. Select a variety suitable for a hot dry climate.  Look for a plant that has sparse vegetation.  These can be found at many local garden centers but you may have to ask.
  2. Tomatoes are sun lovers but in Arizona and other desert states, the sun and low humidity are just too much for them.  Use filtered sunlight by either incorporating a shades screen or planting under trees. 
  3. Set up a misting system if possible to help cool the plant and reduce the rate of transpiration.  Put it on a timer to run from sunrise to sunset.
  4. Prune away about 1/3 of the branches.  This may mean less tomatoes but it also means a lower rate of transpiration meaning larger tomatoes and a healthier plant.
  5. Start the plants indoors late in the year so they are blooming and setting fruit in early February when it is safe to set them out. This will help you to avoid the hot dry weather in late spring.
For more information on plants and humidity, you can visit Crop-King's article on relative humidity.  They go into great detail on the effects of humidity on tomatoes and other plants.   You can also visit ALL ABOUT TOMATOES for a bounty on info on growing, preserving, and cooking with tomatoes. I hope this information has been helpful and that you have much success in growing tomatoes and other plants. Until the next time, ~Happy Gardening~






Sunday, April 28, 2013

Meet Mr and Mrs Red, Our Garden Pest Control Birds.

For years I only saw birds as a garden nuisance but lately I realized that birds are excellent for garden pest control.  If you're an organic gardener like me, attracting birds to your garden is a great way to minimize damage to plants from insects.  I made this discovery unintentionally this year, and I wish I had thought of it earlier as there has been far less evidence of plant destruction caused by those awful creepy-crawly creatures!  With that being said I want to introduce you to our natural pest control team, Mr. and Mrs. Red!



Our Hummingbird feeder attracted a pair of House Finches.
Here Mrs. Red prepares to take a sip of sweetened water.




Back in January, when I first put out our container garden, I decided to fill our hummingbird feeder for two reasons, A) Hummingbirds are great pollinators and B) Ren and I love watching hummingbirds. Well, this year we did not attract hummingbirds, at least not any that stuck around, but we did attract a pair of mating House Finches. I must admit that I was disappointed and even a little annoyed by them at first because I thought they were sparrows. However, when I saw the Male's bright red breast I knew that these were just like the birds that congregate around a feeder near a window at my dentist's office and I remembered how much I enjoy watching their cheerful antics as my teeth were being cleaned. After a little research I was able to identify them as House Finches.  As is typical with most bird species, Mr. Red is much brighter than Mrs. Red.


Mr. Red stands guard at the feeder!


As the days passed by both Ren and I got used to Mr. and Mrs. Red's frequent visits to our feeder.  They so enjoyed our feeder that they built a nest in the rafters of the building directly across from us and began to spend much of their time on the rail of our balcony. We could often find them perched on our feeder sipping at sugar water.  When Mr. Red would show up alone we would soon hear Mrs. Red from the  across the way.  Ren and I joked that Mr. Red was sneaking away for a drink at the neighborhood bar. After a few weeks, Mr. and Mrs. Red had established the feeder as their territory and vigorously kept at bay any other birds who tried to partake; it became their own private watering hole.


One of our resident garden pest control experts keeps the bugs at
bay in this hanging planter.


One day, while they both were on the balcony, I saw Mr. Red do something that caused me to have a revelation.  While Mrs. Red was sipping from the feeder, I watched Mr. Red, who was perched on a nearby hanging planter, reach around and grab a nice juicy bug out of the planter.  It was then I realized that birds are an excellent way to keep bugs out of the garden and that any garden I have in the future must be set up to attract the right kind of birds to our garden.


Mrs. Red Hanging out on one of our planters.


What makes Mr. and Mrs. Red the right kind of birds for our garden is that their diet consists mainly of insects, seeds, berries, and of course, sweet hummingbird nectar.  That means, I don't have to use any expensive organic sprays or even worse, toxic chemical pesticides. Since I don't have any berries in the garden, but I do have plenty of bugs, House Finches are a great fit.  The wrong kind of bird to attract to my garden would be mockingbirds and blackbirds who love tomatoes as much as I do.  But, in their defense, they also love bugs, so in my opinion, it is better to cover the fruits than to chase away the birds.  Of course, that's only my opinion.  All the same, we love watching Mr. and Mrs Red and we know that our garden is in good care when they are on the job. Until the next time, ~Happy Gardening~

For more tips on attracting birds to your garden, visit HGTV's blog at http://www.hgtv.com/gardening-by-the-yard/the-benefits-of-birds-in-the-garden/index.html.  They have some great tips and links to places that can help you.  we would also love to hear comments from anyone who can share ideas on attracting birds to their garden.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Container Garden Update 3

.
I am happy to report that my scaled back container garden has done very well this spring. Soon the hot weather will set in and then I'll have to just be content with watching all the garden bloggers from the northern states showcase their gardens. Maybe I can convince my HOA to convert my balcony into a greenhouse.......Nah, that probably won't get the nod. Oh well, I guess I'll just get back in the moment and enjoy what I have right here-and-now.

If you remember, I had only two tomato plants this year, one I bought at Lowe's and the other that volunteered itself in our poinsettia plant. The store-bought plant boasts an ample amount of green leaves thanks’ in part to hybridization and lot's of water and mulch which I created right from our own kitchen. The volunteer tomato is a little spindly and lacks the bounty of leaves that it's store-bought partner has. Thanks to the little pollination trick I mentioned in my last post, both have set fruits. It will be interesting to see if the plant with less vegetation produces bigger tomatoes. My theory is that in Arizona's dry climate, the leaves transpire more water with less going to the fruit. I think because the sparsely leaved volunteer has fewer leaves to do this, that more water will find its way to the fruit which will result in larger tomatoes. Just a side note, I have been trying unsuccessfully to germinate okra and I had one leftover seed which I tossed in one of the tomato containers and wouldn't you know it, it sprouted!



Thanks to a great tip, my tomatoes have set many fruit.

 
Our little volunteer is all grown up!





The store-bought tomato plant has plenty of leaves and has set an abundance of tomatoes.
 

 
 The pepper plant is also doing very well and has many blossoms and even has a few small chilies on. It looks like in two to three weeks we will be eating garden fresh salsa. I just transplanted the plant into a one gallon self-watering container which will provide ample root space for a mature plant. Having a larger pot also cuts back on watering frequency which is very beneficial for forgetful middle-aged men like me and forgetting to water in a container garden can have devastating consequences.




The pepper plant is blooming like crazy and even
has a few chilies on.  Its Salsa Time Soon!

 



Speaking of forgetting to water, we almost lost the pansies last week during a hot spell. I have them planted in coconut husk planters which dry out quickly. While pansies typically die out in Arizona around the first of May, mine almost didn't make it until the end of March! I came home from work one evening and they were nearly gone. Fortunately I was able to give them a life-saving soak just before they expired so it looks like they will be with us for a few more weeks.



Saving the Pansies.  The best way to water plants in Coconut Husk
planters is to place them in a 5-gallon bucket and soak them.


Ren and I have also introduced natural pest control to our little garden. No, we did not go out and buy a bunch of ladybugs; we simply hung a hummingbird feeder which didn't draw any hummingbirds but did attract a mating pair of House Finches who we named Red and Mrs. Red. Our lovely couple took over the feeder in February and have been our garden guest ever since. Although they can be a bit noisy at times there chatter is a small sacrifice as not only do they frequent the feeder, but they also do a great job of keeping our garden free of bugs. Ren did have me move the feeder out over the edge of the balcony however as she did not like how the Red's were decorating the tiles..hehe. We are also happy to report that the Red's became proud parents to a nest full of little Reds. 
 
 
Mr. Red taking a sip at the Hummingbird Feeder.


 
Introducing our pest control team, "Mr. and Mrs. Red!"

 
Well, the next time I update of the container garden the tomatoes should be ready to eat and the little birdies ready to fly. Summer will soon be here and the containers will have to be put away and only my poor fichus will remain to face the fierce summer heat of the desert southwest. During the summer downtime I will work on a new planter to give my little garden a very nice upgrade. Until the next time ~Happy Gardening~
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 














 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Container Garden 2013 Update

I went to Lowe's today and purchased a couple of new additions for my container garden. I planted six Dwarf French Marigolds and a Hot Chili Pepper Plant.I like to have a nice mixture of flowers and vegetables in the garden because it makes it more vibrant and therefore attractive and the flowers also attract pollinators. I also moved the Poinsetta plant outside just to see how it will do. 

Our little volunteer tomato is doing well.


Since the weather is warmer and watering was making the carpet wet, I decided to move the poinsetta outdoors.


I learned a couple of new things about tomatoes today, well, at least new to me.  I learned from at great YouTube video that tomato blossoms contain both the male and female reproductive parts of the plant and that you can pollinate them simply by shaking the stem near the blossom with your finger.  This will shake the pollen from the male part of the flower down into the female part of the blossom resulting in more tomatoes.  Bees pollinate the tomatoes this way by fluttering their wings near the blossoms and so what we are doing by shaking the blossom is replicating this action.  I'd like to thank Insightful Nana for this tip! Since I have a couple of blossoms that are ready to pollinate, I will give this a try today and report the results in an upcoming post. 


Giving a tomato blossom a little shake to help with pollination.


I chose the peppers because 1), they are easy to grow in Arizona and 2) because I love making my own salsa.  The variety I chose are called hot salsa peppers, let's see if they live up to their name.  Since I have a few containers remaining, I plan on planting a few more tomatoes and peppers.  I will then begin working on a wooden planter so my gardening space looks neater and I won't get any complaints from the HOA. 

One of my new transplants, A Hot Salsa Pepper from Lowe's


I chose the French Marigolds because; 1) I love their color, and 2) they are supposedly a great companion plant for vegetable gardens, especially for tomatoes. Secretions from the Marigold roots kill nemotodes, or tiny worms that live in the soil and are harmful to vegetable plant roots, especially tomatoes.  Since I reuse my soil, I will be sure to plant tomatoes next year in this year's marigold soil.  It is even better though to plant the Marigolds right next to the tomatoes for immediate protection. The scent from the Marigold's flowers also are known to repel flying insects that re a big problem in Arizona. 

Marigolds have many beneficial properties that make them a great companion plant for vegetable gardens.


So that's my update for this week, I will keep you posted in upcoming weeks as my garden matures and I make new additions.  I will also be sharing with you a teriffic recipe for salsa and a trip I made to La Paz Waterfall Garden in Costa Rica.  Until the next time, ~Happy Gardening!~




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Container Garden Planting Spring 2013

I'm excited to begin another season of container gardening.  Although Arizona weather allows for year-around-gardening, my observation has been that plants such as tomatoes and peppers do better when planted in late January or early February.

The beginning of my 2013 container garden.


This year I have a few new ideas I would like to try out.  Instead of buying new soil, I decided to recycle what I used last year.  I added composted kitchen waste to restore depleted nutrients to the soil.  I have found this to be a very effective fertilizer and from the looks of my tomato plants, I am right. In an upcoming post I will explain how to make a very inexpensive and easy-to-make kitchen composter.


My simple yet effective kitchen composter.


Speaking of tomato plants, my kitchen compost produced a few volunteers in our transplanted poinsettia.  I was able to successfully transplant one of these and it is growing very well. it's too early to tell what variety it is so it will be a surprise.
Transplanted Volunteer Tomato.

Volunteer tomato in our poinsetta.

 


I planted the tomatoes in self-watering containers I made myself with buckets purchased at a local Lowe's Home Improvement Store. The containers are made by drilling a large hole and several smaller drain holes in one bucket and then placing it in another bucket which serves as a reservoir for the water. The top bucket is then able to draw water up from the reservoir bucket and effectively supply water for the plant, I was also able to wire-tie a tomato cage to the top of the buckets to support the plant when they are mature.  I learned how to do this in a copy of Mother Earth News.  These containers work quite well and are a very inexpensive alternative to store-bought self-watering containers. I will do another blog or possibly a YouTube video to teach you how to make your own self-watering containers.

A very healthy tomato plant.


Since my Ren and I both love okra, I decided to try to plant some this year.  I have yet to see any okra plants at the local nurseries or garden centers so I will attempt to start some from seed.  Please wish me luck; it would be so nice to have some fresh okra to add to Ren's delicious Sinagang Gabi she makes. 

My first attempt at okra.


I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I will be making a container garden planter out of cedar or redwood and then incorporate the self-watering concept using plastic storage bins.  This will allow me to plant root crops such as carrots, beets, and radishes in a container garden.  I have tried this with beets but they don't seem to do well in a small container.  I think this is because the small container is too restrictive.  The storage bin idea may be more conducive to root crops or it may not, but I figure nothing ventured-nothing gained,

I like to add color to any gardening project.  It attracts pollenators and
makes a garden more lively.


I'm looking forward to this season and to incorporating all of the new ideas into the garden and will keep posting as the season progresses.  Until the next time, ~Happy Gardening~