The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Summer book sale

Summer books aleNow's your chance to snap up four of my ebooks at a dramatically reduced price! You'll need to mark your calendar, though, to catch each sale on the proper day.

I start off today, June 24, with Homegrown Humus marked down to 99 cents.

Tomorrow, June 25, I'll bring you Thrifty Chicken Breeds at 99 cents.

We'll take the weekend off so you have time to digest this week's cheap books. Then next Monday, June 29, we'll jump back on the sale bandwagon with Pasture Basics marked down to 99 cents.

And we'll finish our sale next Thursday, July 2, when Growing into a Farm is also 99 cents.

As a side note, if you want to be reminded on each of these sale dates, you'll see my books in Buck Books' daily newsletter during this time period. Click here to subscribe and find lots of other 99-cent books too!

Finally, in case you're interested, I'm currently hard at work on The Ultimate Guide to Soil, which will reach you in ebook form this winter and in print form next summer. One of the holes in my rough draft is container gardening --- I haven't done much of it but know that many people only have space for a few pots on their patio. If you've got some great photos and tips about container gardening that you'd like to share, I hope you'll take a minute to email me back and I may include your information in the final book.

Thanks for letting me take a day out of my usual round of gardening geekery and goat gallivanting for a bit of shameless self-promotion. I hope you enjoy the books!

Anna Hess's books
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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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My successes in container gardening have been accidental, and also in using up containers I might have thrown out. A 5-gallon plastic pail I had last year that already had holes in the bottom, was an experimental container for a couple of pole-bean plants. I had used up the best locations for tomatoes, too few of my pole beans had germinated, so I was trying more, as a last chance, in that old cast-off bucket, set in a small unused spot in the strawberry bed. Instead of actually moving it, to a sunnier location, I let it go, until it was too late: the roots had gone thru the holes in the pail! So I actually staked it right in that pail, and did have a viable pole-bean plant or two.

This year we have very bushy basil, growing in an old washtub, 2 ft. in diameter, by almost 1 ft. deep, that also had had cracks and holes in the bottom. This time, the volume seems more suited to the plants. That is, I think the bigger volume the better. In each case I only filled the container half-way, and in each case I threw rubble and stones in the bottom first.

Container-grown plants really need to be watered more. Not sure how Joey's container tomatoes are doing, in this heat wave...

Comment by adriane Wed Jun 24 07:35:14 2015

This year I added a bunch to my garden plans... mostly because I ordered more varieties of tomato than I really had room for, and then there was that order of seeds back in December that I totally forgot about until it arrived on my porch. (That happens to other people too, right?) Anyway, this year front porch pots that normally are decorative -- they've got butternut squashes in them. Random other pots have managed to find sunny spots in my rather shady (but less visible to neighbors) back yard have 7 different varieties of extra tomatoes (I told you I ordered too many), basil (I also planted extra basil in my asparagus bed -- they're supposed to be companionable and you can never have too much basil), 3 varieties of sweet potato, rhonde de nice zucchini, lentils, Dragon tongue beans, and a red kuri pumpkin. THe Butternuts and beans are in plastic planter pots, and the Sweet potatoes are in plastic trugs, everything else is in an assortment of glazed ceramic pots from Ollies. I got an extra discount coupon for Ollies Bargain Outlet so I loaded up on lovely big planters and a few smaller ones too. It was a pretty big investment for me but I paid $30 for the same size and style pots I've seen marked $125 at garden centers, so... I may get more next year if I get another coupon. Anyway... In the pots I put in a mix of organic compost, peatmoss, greensand, and kelp instead of actual "soil" since the dirt here is pretty much just clay subsoil with no topsoil left (except where I've been building it back up in my raised beds). My worry is that they will dry out faster and the nutrients will leech out from the extra watering and then the plants will not produce, so I wanted to go with a rich mix to start with. So far my soil meter is measuring the fertility still at the high end of "adequate" and the PH still at "neutral." I have watered once with a liquid fertilizer and the rest of the time I have used captured rain water (or actual rain) and filtered water (since I am on city water here and do not want the build up of chemicals from the water). I am finding that the rhonde de nice zucchini may be getting too much water with a recent deluge we had, they are loosing zukes that were already set. So I will hold off their water now that it is blue skies again and hope that they will dry out and recover. They are still blooming so I think they will be ok. The tomatoes went into pots a couple weeks after their siblings which, unfortunately, means they got a little stunted waiting for more growing room. I should have gone ahead and potted up while waiting for soil temps to be warm enough. The containers had colder soil temps in the early spring -- overnight cold was keeping them lower than the rest of the garden -- and tomatoes like to stay warm. But they are making up for lost time now. I will still be harvesting from their siblings in the main garden before I get tomatoes from the containers but they are already blooming and setting some fruits. I am using a mississippi pruning method on all my tomatoes for better air circulation in the main garden and so that I can get a more accurate comparison with how the containers produce. So far the determinate varieties seem to be about the same and the indeterminate varieties are definitely bigger in the main garden but okay in the containers, and that could be attributed to the little bit of stunting they got with waiting longer to go out. Which reminds me -- soil temps now are only a degree or two higher in the pots (bigger pots help with that) and I'm letting "weeds" like some volunteer crown vetch grow up around some of the pots in full sun areas to help keep them cooler with some "shade" over the pot/soil as we move into the hotter months. Someone who's been doing containers longer than me might have better info on yields, and soil blends, etc. so I hope more people are answering, but let me know if you want some pics.... I probably should put new batteries in the camera and document this stuff anyway. :)

Comment by Kiina Wed Jun 24 22:00:33 2015

Mom --- Thanks for sharing! Watering does seem to be the Achilles heel of containers, which is partly why people sometimes use soilless mixtures that really hold onto water. I didn't realize Joey was doing his tomatoes in containers this year.

Kiina --- I'd love to see some shots of your containers in action! Feel free to email any you've got to (but only send one or two per email or it will bounce). Thanks in advance for sharing!

Comment by anna Thu Jun 25 06:53:52 2015

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